Japan’s Wisteria Tunnels Are Some of the Most Magical Places on Earth

The Kawachi Wisteria Garden in Fukuoka, Japan
The Kawachi Wisteria Garden in Fukuoka, Japan
iStock.com/Biscut

Japan’s cherry blossoms tend to steal the spotlight, but its wisteria vines are no less enchanting. As Travel + Leisure points out, there are a number of magical places around the country to see these flowering plants in all their glory.

Contrary to popular belief, not all wisteria plants are purple. Different varieties display different colors, which may include pale blue, pink, white, and yellow petals. Some of these hues are on display at Japan’s Ashikaga Flower Park, which has a wisteria ceiling that visitors can walk beneath. It’s home to more than 350 wisteria trees, as well as the oldest known wisteria plant in Japan (it's more than 140 years old).

Located north of Tokyo in Tochigi Prefecture, the park is open year-round, but the wisteria begin to bloom from mid-April to mid-May, depending on the variety. In some cases, the fuji season (as it’s known in Japanese) may coincide with the blooming of the sakura (cherry blossoms). A wisteria festival runs from April 13 to May 19, but if you can’t make it to Japan, you can check out the website to see what the garden looks like.

Traveling south, the Kawachi Wisteria Garden in Kitakyushu—the northermost city of Kyushu Island—is another must-see wisteria destination. The garden’s two 330-foot wisteria tunnels boast 22 different varieties of the plant.

Other popular wisteria destinations throughout Japan include Tennogawa Park in Tsushima, Shirai Omachi Fuji Park in Asago, Tokyo’s Kameido Tenjin Shrine, Byodoin Temple in Kyoto Prefecture, and Koenji Temple in Ichikawa. The Kamitoba Sewage Treatment Plant in Kyoto is also an unexpectedly pleasant place to view the flowering trees.

Check out some of the stunning wisteria photos below for some travel inspiration.

A wisteria garden
The Ashikaga Flower Park in Tochigi Prefecture
Raymond Ling, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

A wisteria garden
Koenji temple in Ichikawa, Chiba Prefecture
t.kunikuni, Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0

A wisteria tunnel
The Kawachi Wisteria Garden in Fukuoka, Japan
inazakira, Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0

A park with wisteria in bloom
Senkoji Park in Hiroshima
iStock.com/Navapon_Plodprong

[h/t Travel + Leisure]

10,000 People Gathered at Stonehenge to Welcome the Summer Solstice

Finnbarr Webster, Getty Images
Finnbarr Webster, Getty Images

There are plenty of reasons to welcome the start of summer. Today, people visiting Stonehenge took that celebration to a whole new level.

The BBC reported that an estimated 10,000 people made the pilgrimage to the 5000-year-old site to partake in summer solstice festivities. "Stonehenge was built to align with the Sun, and to Neolithic people, the skies were arguably as important as the surrounding landscape," Susan Greaney, a senior historian at English Heritage, said in a statement. "At solstice we remember the changing daylight hours, but the changing seasons, the cycles of the Moon, and movements of the Sun are likely to have underpinned many practical spiritual aspects of Neolithic life."

These spiritual aspects are just one of the many fascinating facts about the summer solstice; the day is an extremely old calendar event recognized by ancient cultures across the globe. They include the Druids and other pagans, whose tradition of observing the solstice at Stonehenge has long been upheld by modern revelers.

Scientifically speaking, Stonehenge is an optimal viewing place for the solstice due to its structure. According to TIME, the site’s architects appeared to have kept both the summer and winter solstices in mind during its construction, as the positions of the stones are specifically tuned to complement the sky on both occasions.

The solstices were sacred to the pagans, whose modern-day followers continue to honor their rituals. Pagans in particular refer to the day as Litha, and mark it with activities such as meditation, fire rites, and outdoor yoga.

“What you’re celebrating on a mystical level is that you’re looking at light at its strongest," Frank Somers, a member of the Amesbury and Stonehenge Druids, said in 2014. "It represents things like the triumph of the king, the power of light over darkness, and just life—life at its fullest."

Those who were unable to make the journey can head over to the Stonehenge Skyscape project's website, where English Heritage’s interactive live feed fully captured the experience.

Hotels.com Wants to Pay You $10,000 to Test Out Some of America’s Fanciest Hotel Pools

iStock/FTiare
iStock/FTiare

Getting paid to hang out by the pool all summer may sound like a job that's too good to be true. But popular hotel booking site Hotels.com is looking to hire one lucky "Poolhop" to do just that—and pay them $10,000 for their efforts.

According to the official job application, "The Poolhop’s responsibilities are simple; travel to some of the most incredible hotel pools across the country, sip on fruity drinks, snap some photos, sport a hotel robe, and report back to reward-loving Hotels.com fans."

Along with the $10,000 stipend, the Poolhop's perks will include paid airfare and accommodations at six hotels across the country, one year of Hotels.com Gold Rewards member status, and “eternal bragging rights.” The only serious requirements are that applicants be at least 21 years of age and a U.S. resident. They must also, of course, know how to swim.

Thrillist reports that the chosen hotels aren’t your average accommodations, either. The Poolhop will get to dive into luxury at Hawaii's Four Seasons Resort Hualalai, the Mondrian Los Angeles, the SLS Las Vegas, Colorado's Garden of the Gods Club and Resort, The William Vale Hotel in New York City, and Miami Beach's National Hotel.

“No one wants to be sitting at a desk all summer,” Katie Junod, general manager of the Hotels.com brand in North America, said. "There are so many incredible hotel pools to explore across the country, and we want to give travelers a first-hand look at the crème de la crème. And who better to live the hotel life than our very own Hotels.com Poolhop?”

The trip will take place during two weeks in August. All applications must be filled out and submitted by Tuesday, June 25th. And don't forget your sunscreen!

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