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Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Hagi Bush Clover One of the Seven Grasses of Autumn

On my fingers do I count the meadows flowers of the fall, and find their number is seven in all.

Bush clover, eulalia, arrowroot, pinks, patrinia, agueweed, and bellflower—these they call the seven flowers of the fall.

Manyoshu (7th century, Japan)

For a thousand years the Seven Grasses of Autumn have been admired for their subtle beauty, appearing again and again as design motifs on screens, ceramics, lacquerware, and kimono. Unlike the seven "grasses" of spring which can be eaten, these seven are for visual appreciation, especially on the night of the harvest moon when they are arranged on a lacquer tray with rice dumplings called dango.

Hagi Bush Clover seen on a byobu screen.
Hagi Bush Clover depicted on a byobu screen
Hagi, or bush clover, was especially loved by the ancient poets (even more than cherry blossoms!). This lush green bush can grow up to ten feet high. Its reddish-purple or white blossoms can be found in many gardens in fall. There is a Hagi Festival this month at Kyoto's Nashinoki Shrine, during which people compose haiku, write them on strips of paper, and then hang them on the hagi bushes.

Nashinoki Shrine is well known as an excellent place to view hagi (bush clover). About one thousand clover bushes are planted here. Over this holiday weekend (September 17-19), tanzaku (strips of fancy paper) bearing haiku written by poetry lovers are hung on the branches of the clover bushes, which are at their best at this time of year. Selected tanzaku are used to decorate red and white clover bushes arranged in a bamboo tube. Then, together with a suzumushi (cricket) in an insect basket, it is dedicated to the deity of the shrine. In the oratory of the shrine, kyogen, Japanese dance, and koto music are performed, while outdoors in the grounds of the shrine, a tea ceremony is held.

Hagi is also to be seen in abundance at Jorin-ji Temple on the east side of Kawabata, just north of Imadegawa.

Written by Ian Ropke, founder and owner of Your Japan Private Tours: personalized quality private travel services all over Japan since 1992. To learn more, visit our site (www.kyoto-tokyo-private-tours.com) or call us on +1-415-230-0579.

1 comment:

  1. Very interesting. Makes me want to do a bit of research!


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