The first event I'd discovered online that I wanted to check out was the Konan City Wisteria Festival. I'm not sure exactly what it is about wisteria, but something about those hanging blooms has always struck me as beautifully sumptuous. Needless to say, when I read that Konan's Mandara Temple Garden boasted hundreds of yards of walkways underneath trellises full of wisteria blooms, I wanted to go.
Jess and I set out around lunchtime on the first Monday in May to see what we could see. Upon arriving at the train station with no problem and immediately finding a sign in Japanese indicating a shuttle bus just beyond the station exit, I felt pretty confident. A bus pulled up near the sign, and we hopped on. About 20 minutes later it became evident that my confidence may have been a little premature--the bus pulled up in front of a hospital with a large glass lobby, and the driver shut off the engine. The only thing even vaguely resembling a garden was the planter of neatly trimmed ivy by the hospital entrance. Oops.
After consulting with the bus driver in Japanese, who consulted a nearby taxi driver for extra information, I figured out that we should just wait until the same bus started back toward the station and alight at the line's halfway point on a main drag. From there we could evidently reach Mandara Temple. Once we stepped off and the bus pulled away, there was a minute or two of confusion as we wondered if there was some secret bus stop for a shuttle that we couldn't see, but pretty soon I saw a Japanese sign indicating the direction of the festival, and I figured the safest bet was simply to hoof it to our destination. It took a little while, but maybe 15 or 20 minutes later, we arrived! Yay. By this point a lot of the festival game and food booths around the temple were closing, but the garden remained open, and there was plenty of daylight left, so we started exploring the grounds.
A considerate bystander offered to take this picture for us without us even asking, and look what a nice job he did, too! The banner next to us says "Wisteria Festival" in Japanese.