Hydrangeas at Yokoku-ji
Yokoku-ji (aka "Yanagidani Kannon") is a small, but authentic Buddhist temple located in the Nishiyama Mountain Range in Nagaokakyo city in Kyoto Prefecture. It sits about 3km south of the more famous Yoshimine-dera, but it has a completely different access point.
Why do I call it authentic, because out of all of the temples I've visited in Kyoto Prefecture, this has to be one of the least touristy. The time I visited this place was during a Matsuri (festival), but even then it still had a very local feel about the place. In the warm weather, it's a great place to get a little bit of relief from the heat due to it's high elevation. It is a beautiful little temple complex to stroll around, and it even has a nice spot where you can sit down and observe carp swimming in a very tastefully designed pond and garden.
Youkoku-ji is also a great place to see hydrangeas in bloom. During the hydrangea season (late June) there are shuttle buses from JR Nagaokakyo and Hankyu Nagaoka Tenjin stations. There are also shuttle buses going there during the autumn colour change season (mid to late November). At other times of the year the only way to get there is by taxi (cheaper from the Hankyu station) or private transport. Some of my friends say they've pushed their bicycles up the mountain road and then coasted back down after visiting the temple. I guess if you're adventurous and know enough Japanese, you might even try hitch hiking there, which is pretty safe in Japan. The road that goes to the temple is called Yanagidani Michi, it starts from the western end of Azalea Dori, which is just north of the Hankyu station.
This photo was taken with a Nikon D700 camera and an AF Nikkor 35f/2D lens with a circular polarising filter. No post processing has been done on this image.