Plant Festivals

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One of the first things that I did when I came here was go to Kiyose to see the end of the summer sunflowers… but there are still plenty of festivals to celebrate nature in the autumn and even winter season! And with the fall semester coming to close, I thought it would be nice to see how Japan changes with the seasons. It really is very unique in its geography — once you take Intro to East Asia: Japan with John Mock here, you will learn a lot about the climate and how much Japan has changed over the course of a hundred years. Apparently Tokyo was almost like Venice in the past, with a bunch of canals running through the streets! Most of that is covered up now with all the concrete, but there are still spots in the city that you can see the rivers peeking out (I think Naka-meguro is a good example for this).

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Rikugien Garden illumination

One of the biggest autumn illuminations/plant-viewing festivals is the one at Rikugien Garden, which is an old garden that belonged to a feudal lord from the Edo Period. This garden was designed to reflect famous scenes from waka poems (although I wouldn’t be able to tell you which ones…) and was built in the Heian style. Even tending the gardens has a large place in history! It wasn’t really a fancy LED-bulb illumination like some of the other places in Tokyo, but they used bright spotlights to just emphasize the beauty of the existing foliage (but probably most notably, the bright reds of the autumn leaves).

Some of the other plant-viewing festivals I’ve been to this year:

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Hagi Matsuri – a festival specifically for viewing bush clovers

They grow the hagi in a tunnel, so you get to walk through it!

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Crooked trees in the Mukojima-Hyakkaen Gardens

In the same garden as the hagi, the workers tend to all the plants and make sure they are being supported properly — literally, as this crooked tree is doing its best to keep itself up. Reminds me of something from Tim Burton.

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Sunflower merchant from the Kiyose Sunflower Festival

And, coming all the way from the very beginning, the Kiyose Sunflower Festival. This still tops my list as the awesomest plant festival you can see while you’re here.

As much as Tokyo is a concrete jungle, they really do appreciate their nature a lot. To be honest, I’m still used to people just not really caring about nature. Coming from California, which is still suffering from a terrible drought, there’s definitely a less amount of green to be seen. Of course, there are some people in America who still appreciate nature and try to preserve what is left, but I think this is a difference you can distinctly feel when you’re in Japan.

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