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Chrysanthemum: Japan’s Symbol for Autumn

The temperature starts to drop down…cool wind begins to blow.. the leaves turn red and yellow. Signs that autumn is finally here! In Japan, another indication that it is autumn is the abundance of chrysanthemums. Different types of different colors can be found in the stores and even in the gardens. Chrysanthemum of kiku is Japan’s national flower and used as the official seal of the emperor.  Last Monday my friend and I went to Zenyoji Temple, which is located in Koiwa, Edogawa, to see the Kiku Festival. Every year, locals bring their chrysanthemums in this temple for competition. The temple has also a featured theme design which changes every year. For this year, the it is Nikko. They made a miniature landscape featuring the mountains of Nikko. There were also some ornaments which reflects Nikko Heritage site such as the Sacred Bridge and the deity sculpture. Unfortunately, we went there too early. Most of the flowers have not fully bloomed yet. They said that full bloom might be on the second week or third week of November depending on the climate and temperature. Nevertheless, the whole area was beautifully as it is.

Zenyoji Temple
The Facade of Zenyoji Temple in Koiwa, Edogawa


Chrysanthemum Topiary
A Chrysanthemum Topiary Welcomes the Visitors of Zenyoji Temple


chrsyanthemums in Zenyoji Temple
Giant Chrysanthemums on Display at Zenyoji Temple


Kiku Festival in Edogawa
Mums Trained to Spread Horizontally


Kiku Festival in Edogawa
This Year’s Themed Arrangement: The Mountains of Nikko


Kiku Festival in Tokyo
The Sacred Bridge of Nikko Surrounded by Soon-to-Bloom Chrysanthemums


Kiku Festival in Edogawa
A Giant Chrysanthemum Plant Waiting to Bloom


Kiku Festival in Edogawa
Bonsai Chrysanthemums

Aside from the beautiful and gigantic chrysanthemums, the temple is also known as the home of Yogo-no-matsu, a 600-year-old pine tree which is one of the most important trees in Japan. It is also selected as the Na0tural Monument of Japan. The three is only 8 meters tall but it is the widest pine in the country with its branches spreading up to 30 meters. It is believed that this tree was used as bridge between heaven and earth by Buddha and his deities.

Side of the Monumental Yogo-no-Matsu. A Single Pine Tree with Branches Spread Up to 30 Meters


Yogo-no-Matsu in Edogawa
Front View of Yogo-no-Matsu

And to celebrate autumn, I made several Ikebana arrangements highlighting chrysanthemums. For these past weeks, I used a variety of chrysanthemums and tried to highlight their vibrant colors.  

kiku 2
Magenta Chrysanthemums with Purple Gentian


Yellow Mums and Chrysanthemum with Blue Gentian and Pine Leaves to Welcome Autumn


Shades of Purple with a Pink Rose: Chrysanthemums, Lisianthus, Rose, and Asters


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