A Red Sea of flowers in Goma, Tokyo’s countryside | japan information
Summer is fading away and the colours of nature are changing. It is exactly at this time that the flower higanbana, red spider lily, blooms in Japan.
Last weekend, a Japanese friend and I went to Tokyo’s countryside to admire the higanbana at the pick of their beauty. But what is the meaning of this red sea of flowers ? And why so many people travel few hours to see it ?
The hanami, contemplation of the flowers, is an old Japanese tradition. We find peace of mind in the fact that the peak of their beauty has been reach despite its transience, it’s like admiring life itself. Also the higanbana represents the changing of summer to autumn and is liked to separation and death. We can maybe say that it’s like the opposite of the sakura.
Many are in fact the legends that surround the red spider lily in Japan and they are all connected to loss. This flower usually blooms near the cemeteries and it’s often used during the ancestral rituals since its poison and its red colour are believed to protect the spirits against evil demons and since it’s believed to grow in hell and guide the dead to the next reincarnation.
The most famous story surrounding the higanbana talks about two lovers, the elves Manju and Saka. Manju guarded the flowers and Saka guarded the leaves, but they could never meet because this plant doesn’t bear flowers and leaves at the same time. However, the two elves fell in love and they decide to arrange a meeting, defying the laws of the gods. The gods promptly punished them and separated them for all eternity. That is also why it is believed that if you meet a person you’ll never see again, these flowers will grow along your path.
The deep meaning of the higanbana is nevertheless a happy moment in Japan, where families and friends watch together the flowers and eat and drink together. This is precisely what surprised me and fascinated me the most.
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