Yoshizen's Blog

Higan-bana — 彼岸花

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In Japan, a week around the Equinox were called O-Higan (both spring and the autumn Higan)  They are the Buddhism originated (some says, Pureland-sect originated but others says that they were originated even older Primitive belief to respect the past dead) 1500 years old tradition.  Because it is such old tradition, people’s customs are deviated a bit, region to region or each persuasion still, somewhat common practice among the traditionalist were = make small decoration of offerings to the returning soul and offer a chanting of the mantra by a priest. (Both Equinox were made national holiday, so, they made a good excuse for some (like me) to escape to the mountain.) 

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Something strange is, on the time of the Autumn Equinox, a particular flower called Higan-bana open their flowers.  This flower suddenly shoot up its flowering  stem and within a week, they will make a full bloom of their very distinctive red flowers. —– In the west, they seemed to be called Red Spider Lilly ( Ricoris radiata / Amarylliaceae) though I’ve never seen her in this country.   Because of her peculiar character, there are many funny belief, which make up the spooky, sinister stories.  Further more, this plant is poisonous hence repel the rat, mole = together with sinister belief, she is most commonly found in a grave yard and the edge of the rice field. (to protect the field = rat or mole won’t dig a hole where the root of this plant spread.)   When you encounter her in a field, well may be you will feel a shock, —– and convince that the myth “under her, there is a dead body” must be true !

When this flower is blooming, there is no leaves = they come out after the flower finished — hence, she carry the message “Never see you again”. And it created the Chinese name and a myth = Chinese name Manju Shage came from the name of the boy, Manju 曼珠who was the leaf, and the Shage沙华, she was the flower.  They never able to see each other in this world but get together in the Heaven. —– (I guess, they are immune to each other’s poison. )

PS :  Photos above were taken by my friend at the famous Higan-bana Flower spot of meandering Koma-rever bank in Saitama prf; where 5 million flowers are blooming every year.  Last week, even our Emperor walked down there to appreciate the flowers.

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