Japanese Flowers – Introduction
Japanese flowers have played a very important role in the cultural history of Japan over the years. Used for decoration, inspiration and enjoyment on all levels, it is no surprise that much of Japan’s historical art depicts flowers in some form.
A common trend was to decorate kimonos (traditional Japanese dress) with floral patterns, and indeed this might be one of the first origins of floral pattern fabrics outside of China. Another was to create unique and structured meditation gardens filled with Japanese flowers to be used by monks and enjoyed by the common people.
One of the most popular Japanese flowers, the sakura (cherry) blossom, was and remains found in abundance throughout the nation. Towns and villages would use sakura trees to enhance the natural beauty and to create a common communal gathering place.
Sakura are extremely importing in Japan. Much art and literature is based around these little delicate blossoms, and they played a part in everyone’s life. Simply by strolling down a path lined with the fallen blossoms, a person could find inner peace with greater ease. Even the fierce and honorable Samurai enjoyed the sakura, and would often spend hours merely contemplating a single flower.
This sense of dedication to detail and beauty helped to mould Japanese culture into the disciplined and civilized shape that it took on over the years.
Japanese Flowers – Common Varieties
We’ve collected some information to share with you about some of the more common Japanese flowers. Many of these have North American and European variants as well, and you might even have some in your garden at home.
· Ajisai (ah-jee-sigh) – These Japanese flowers are better known as hydrangea. The greatest species diversity is in eastern Asia, notably China and Japan, which helps lead to the popularity of this flower. In most species the flowers are white, but in some species can be blue, red, pink, or purple. The ph (level of acidity) of the soil is what determines the color.
Acidic soils produce blue flowers, neutral produce near-white petals, and alkaline soils create pink or purple. As such, it may be difficult to plan the outcome of a garden featuring ajisai unless you are able to determine the acidity or your yard’s soil.
· Hasu (ha-sue) – The hasu, better known as the lotus, is an aquatic flower with great spiritual significance in both Hinduism and Buddhism. It is said that the concept of a beautiful flower rising up out of the murky and muddy river represents the possibility of spiritual cleansing. Many idols and icons depict various deities perched upon a lotus blossom, almost as though it were a throne.
Unfortunately, it is nearly impossible to grow these Japanese flowers in your garden unless you live in constantly-warm environments. Nevertheless, they have great visual appeal and tend to be crowd-pleasers at botanical gardens that contain facilities allowing them to nurture a plant of this variety.
· Jinchoge (jean-ko-geh) – These are the flowers of a small tree better known as the magnolia, these are very common and well-liked in Japan. An interesting fact about this species is that it dates back many thousands of years to before bees had first appeared. As a result, it was required to find an alternative source of pollen – namely beetles. The petals are remarkably tough to resist damage from feeding beetles, and shaped to accommodate them.
· Sakura (saw-koo-rah) – The most popular of the Japanese flowers, sakura (cherry blossoms) can be found everywhere. Nothing quite tops the sight of a path lined with flowering sakura, especially when a gust of wind sends the petals spiraling through the air about you like something out of a dream. It is common to find these trees in parks, on temple grounds, and planted around important government and municipal buildings.
When planning a trip to Japan, see if you can arrange to arrive during one of the various sakura festivals around the nation. It’s a sight worth going out of your way to see, and witnessing these trademark Japanese flowers just might be the highlight of your entire trip!
Japanese Flowers – Conclusion
This introduction into Japanese flowers barely scratches the surface of botany and horticulture in Japan. The best way to learn more is to plan a trip to the islands and view the temples and gardens for yourself. You’ll be sure to love every moment of it if you have an interest in Japanese flowers.
If you’re looking to build a bouquet or arrangement of fresh Japanese flowers to send someone as a gift, your local florist should be equipped with the ability to create some very intricate and excellent designs. By visiting their store or online shop, you can end up with something worthy of haiku.
If you’d like a suggestion about where to view Japanese flowers on a trip, we recommend Koishikawa botanical garden, which belongs to Tokyo University. Their collection of Japanese flowers is one of the greatest in the nation, and sure to please all visitors.
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