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This is another wildflower called setsubunso, a flower that appears around the Setsubun Festival which is a festival where beans are thrown for luck and demons are ordered out of the house. Its other name is Shibaranteranthis. Below, Linda Inoki’s article says more about this flower.

It’s not that I am out of touch With the world — But I am better off Playing by myself.

By Ryokan (1757-1831), from “Selected Tanka,” translated by Sanford Goldstein, Shigeo Mizuguchi and Fujisato Kitajima (Kokodo)

In the traditional Japanese hana kotoba (language of flowers), the icy-white blooms of the setsubun-so mean “I want to be alone,” and, in their austere simplicity, we can see a reflection of the life of the renowned Zen hermit Ryokan. These plants bloom amid the retreating snow, around the time of the festival of setsubun (changing-of-the-season day), and so they were named setsubun-so, literally “setsubun flowers.” According to the ancient lunar calendar in use in Japan until Jan. 1, 1873 (when the Gregorian calendar replaced it), the third day of the second month marks the departure of winter. So spring is in the air! Despite its delicate appearance, Shibateranthis pinnatifida is a tough alpine plant adapted to growing in woodlands and chalky ravines. It is a member of the buttercup family, which includes anemones and monkshood, and it has the attractive, deeply cut leaves typical of the group. Its papery “petals” are really sepals: The actual flowers are tiny yellow dots clustered around the dark pink stamens in the center. Unfortunately, this lovely plant is now an endangered species in Japan, but numbers of the flowers are still found in Hiroshima Prefecture. In Tokyo, you can see them flowering from mid-February at the Jindai Botanical Garden in Chofu City, and at the Mukojima Hyakka-en in Sumida Ward.


The Japan Times: Feb. 3, 2005
(C) All rights reserved

Japan Times


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