The Chrysanthemum – Of The Highest Order in Japan

Oct 30th, 2008 | By | Category: History & Culture

image The Chrysanthemum, kiku in Japanese, is a flower of the highest order in Japan – the Emperor’s mon, or seal, is a graphic representation of the bloom and The Supreme Order of the Chrysanthemum (pictured in the right) is the most prestigious award that can be bestowed by the Japanese Government.  First introduced to Japan in the seventh century, the Chrysanthemum quickly gained a following with Japanese royalty because of it’s beauty, medicinal properties and it’s association with endurance and integrity.  While not the official flower of Japan, and not as well known as the spring blooming sakura, or Cherry Blossom, this bloom has a special place in Japanese culture with festivals and exhibits throughout the country that celebrate this bulbous and beautiful bloom each fall.

Many literary and poetic references to Japan include references to the Chrysanthemum and the bloom has been featured in the title of many book on the country and it’s culture,  the most famous being “The Chrysanthemum and the Sword” by Ruth Benedict, a World War II–era study of the contracts between the culture of Japan and that of the United States.    Others include “The Chrysanthemum and the Bat: Baseball Samurai Style” by Robert Whiting and “Princess Masako: Prisoner of the Chrysanthemum Throne: The Tragic True Story of Japan’s Crown Princess” by Ben Hills.

imageThe flower has been prominently featured in works by famous artists including Itō Jakachū who painted “Chrysanthemums by a stream with rocks” around 1760 and in waka style poetry, as in this example:

In Japanese (Source: Everything2) :

Oto ni nomi
kiku no shiratsuyu
yoru wa okite
hiru wa omohi ni aezu kenubeshi

Literal Translation:

Chrysanthemum’s white dew, settling in at night
and in the day, from the sun
will disappear

Alternate translation:

Of you, from other people only, I hear
I stay up all night, and in the day, my longing becomes
unbearable, and I must surely die

The Chrysanthemum has a prominent place in Japanese culture and it’s residents celebrate the bloom each fall with Kiku festivals and exhibitions throughout Japan from late October through November.  To find and event near you check the listing of Chrysanthemum Festivals and Exhibits – Fall 2008.

Image Credit:  Wikimedia, Japanese Order01, Chrysanthemums by a stream with rocks

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  1. […] Chrysanthemum, kiku in Japanese, has a prominent place in Japanese culture and its blooms are celebrated with festivals and exhibits throughout Japan each […]

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