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We are hung on yellow daffodils at the moment. Here are some lovely suisen or Daffodils also called Narcissus. These are great favorities with all Japanese. Naturalized from the Mediterranean 1,000 years ago.

Linda Inoki wrote in the Japan Times:

“The first snow
The leaves of the narcissus
Are just bending”

By Matsuo Basho (1644-94),
translated by R.H. Blyth in “Haiku” (Hokuseido Press)

Although dainty narcissus plants look very natural in a Japanese setting, they have traveled a long way from their original home in the Mediterranean. At least 1,000 years ago, merchants brought the bulbs of Narcissus tazetta to China, where they were called “New Year Lilies.” In Japan, they are sometimes called se-chu-ka (midst-the-snow flowers), since they bloom from November to March. Their lovely, heady scent was thought to make people drowsy, and the name “narcissus” comes from the Greek narcosis , meaning the “plant of numbness.” The plants need spring rain in order to bloom and are often associated with water, as in the legend of Narcissus, a beautiful youth who fell in love with his reflection in a pool and pined away. The flowers that bear his name then sprang up where he died.

The Japan Times: Jan. 10, 2002


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