Japan does not have a national flower as such. I think some might want to call the cherry flowers of spring as one of the most well known ones but there is another flower very popular with the Japanese and that is the Kiku flower in the season of autumn. To know how popular the Kiku flower is, take a look at any Japanese passport. On the top is the Kiku or the chrysanthemum flower. Even the seal of the Japanese imperial family is the kiku flower! 16 petals symbol seal was also used by samurai’s in Edo period, many historical movies do include it as a symbol of power used by men then.
Considered as the Imperial Flower of Japan Kiku, or chrysanthemum blooms in November, and many places around the city where Kiku festival is celebrated with displays of highly cultivated Kiku flowers. One such place in central Tokyo, Yushima Tenjin Shrine.Yushima Tenjin, nearby Ueno has a festival ongoing from first of November to the 25th of November this year (2015). The Bunkyo Chrysanthemum Festival here has approximately 2,000 chrysanthemum plants which bloom in the spacious shrine precincts, creating a vividly colorful experience. Kiku flowers on both sides of the shrine’s main hall.They have a rare exhibit here at the festival, dolls made from chrysanthemum flowers which are on display as below. Kiku Ningyou or Dolls dressed up in Kiku flowers is supposedly a dying art in Japan and you should not miss this in Tokyo, Yushima Tenjin where, this year, 2015 there are five dolls dressed up for general viewing.The Yushima Shrine is located walking distance from Ueno Station or also from Yushima Station. Google map is below
Another view of the dolls decorated with Kiku flowers at the Yushima Tenjin Shrine. Unique indeed.
The flower arrangement is of multiple types and there were a few daruma shaped structures decked with the small Kiku flowers this year at the shrine.The daruma style arrangement of the Kiku flowers.A very common form, cascading style has a “overhanging cliff” form, seen at Yushima Tenjin Kiku Matsuri. In this case a single plant was trained onto a flat, slightly arching bamboo lattice structure. It is interesting to see how an entire plant is positioned so that it dips on the pointed end, creating the cascading effect. Pleasing to the human eye, but painful for the tree? Who knows….Kiku is actually native to China and was originally imported to Japan as a medicine. The Japan royals came to love the flower due to its medicinal effects and Kiku cultivation reached its height in the Edo period and varieties of chrysanthemums were introduced and became popular as potted plants.Multitude of colors of the Kiku plants. Kiku flowers arranged on a Japanese fan like arrangement was one of the best sights I saw at the shrine. What a beautiful start to a flowery Saturday morning.Visiting the shrine is of-course free and going there early morning, you can beat the crowds and enjoy the flowers to your maximum pleasure. Beautiful flowers well arranged on the decks leading to the shrine.
Just in case you also go around this area, you may want to access this other beautiful garden just five minute walk from this shrine is Kyu-Iwasaki-tei Garden. Stopped by on the way back, the autumn yellow colors of the ginkgo biloba yet to come through. maybe I will visit again in a weeks time.Yushima Tenjin in the Edo period used to look so different. See the poster here at Amazon (Japan) which you can buy…HIROSHIGE – Hill Top View Yushima Tenjin Shrine Matted Mini Poster – 29.5×19.5cm