Flower power

Salary man taking keitai sakura photo at Imperial Palace

Spring in Tokyo reminds you of the power that flowers have to capture human imagination. Cherry blossom viewing, which has its own name in Japanese, hanami (花見), draws people to socialize outdoors, drinking and eating on blue tarps with family, friends, co-workers and neighbors.

The power of cherry blossoms (or sakura, 桜) even inspires acts of seeming recklessness. In the photo above, an older salary man is perched precariously above the Imperial Palace moat in his quest to take a close-up photo with his cellphone (or ketai).

As an anthropologist and foreigner in Japan, it is also striking to me how specific flower devotion in Japan is. On a hanami stroll, I noticed this beautiful yellow flowering bush called yamabuki, literally “mountain spray.” I have never seen it on either coast in the United States; an internet search gives its English name “kerria.” Despite the crowds in the Tokyo park, I felt that I alone was giving this flower some attention.

Yamabuki in Narita Higashi, Tokyo

At the end of this month, Good Day Books in Ebisu, will be hosting an author’s reading with Enbutsu Sumiko. Her Flower Lover’s Guide to Tokyo offers 40 walks in Tokyo focusing on seasonal flowers in various parks and gardens.

Enbutsu Sumiko, Flower Lover's Guide to Tokyo

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3 comments
  1. Sumiko, I stumbled upon your name on the Tokyo Green Spaces blog. Your book is lovely! I was so pleased to know you are still showing people the hidden beauty of Tokyo. Contact me at the Portland Japanese Garden. I will be in Tokyo this fall and would love to see you.

    • palmsundae said:

      Hi Diane, Thank you for reading this blog. I am a huge fan of the Portland Japanese Garden, the best in North America. And Enbutsu Sumiko’s Flower Power and Discovering Shitamachi have been invaluable resources for understanding Tokyo’s urban ecology. Enbutsu-sensei has created a verdant bridge between urban plant lovers in Tokyo and abroad. I wonder if Enbutsu-sensei reads this blog?

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