Fragrant paperbush (mitsumata) in Omotesando back street

表参道 で、ミツマタという木をはじめて見ました。裸の枝に、香り高い花がたくさん咲いていました。木の持ち主が説明してくれました。五百年前に中国から輸入されて、ミツマタは、和紙を作るために使用されます。

I was admiring this fragrant tree with poofy balls of yellow and white flowers on bare branches. It’s in a shallow residential garden near Omotesando Koffee. Luckily, the owner came by as I was photographing, and explained that it’s called mitsumata, because of its three branch structure.

Later, I learned it’s called paperbush in English, and it’s known for producing high quality paper, once used for Japanese bank notes. The Kew Botanic Garden website says that it originates in China and has been cultivated in Japan and Korea since the 16th century. It’s also used in Chinese medicine.

In the photo below, you can see how the newer residential styles, with sleek concrete facades, close the house from the street, and very often include no plants at all. A sad contrast for garden lovers.

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