February 29, 2008

Tokyo -Day one

Cotton Candy Pink Primroses- at the train station.

My first day in Tokyo was filled with shopping, shopping and shopping for my day job as trend director at Hasbro. But, at least I was able to squeeze in some hoticulture on my train ride home. On this busy Friday night in chilly Tokyo, potted plants were available at every train station, including these stunning potted Fairy Primroses, Primula malacoides. So much better than mine in a previous post! I wish I has the seed of this cultivar. I think the way that they were displayed, in a wooded basket, and the fullness of the plant, combined with their cherry-blossom pink color, made them a perfect expression of Japans Japanesseness.

Ume Plum blossoms, and mustard flowers

My hotel has a massive urn in the lobby, filled with 10 foot tall branches of Ume (Japanese flowering Plum, or Apricot) the celebration plant of the current season.

I am probably missing my Convallaria blooming which I forced this year, since, when I left Boston, I noticed them starting to open in the greenhouse. THese are at a florist in an upscale Tokyo department store in Sunshine City, a popular shopping area north of Shinjuku station.

These terribly hybrid potted Begonias we're being sold at a large department store. THe colors we're beautiful, with coral and pink blending together.

Girls Day means SPRING, and spring means Sakura blossom (Cherry Blossom)

Takara's Hello KItty is popular enough, but this weekend marks Girls Day, a day when parents and grandparents but small dolls for thier little girls, often displayed in expensive glass cases, elaborate and often costing a thousand US dollars or more. The tiny Daruma-type dolls dressed in Kimono fabric are elaborate, but not nearly as cute as Hello Kitty, herself, as you can see here, decorated in her Girls Day, Sakura Blossom costume.
Even Starbucks joins in on that Sakura theme, with a full selection of Sakura pink decorated coffee mugs, glasses, takout containers, and a delicious Sakura chiffon cake, complete with a pickled Sakura Cherry Blosson on top of the white whipped cream frosting and pink cake, and a selection of pink sakura butter cookies, made with sakura blossoms.

Celebrations and festivals are popular in Japan, and they often revolve around plants, and the specific blooming times of certain flowers which are cherished by the Japanese. Be it Cherry, Chrysanthemum, Morning Glory (asagao) or many of the other Japanese plants which are so closely tied to culutral beliefs left over from the Edo period as well as from their specific relationship with Shinto beliefs, which is not so much a religion ( as, let's say, Buddism is) but perhaps better expressed as being "Japanese". Shinto, has more to do with the emergy and spirists of the forest, rocks, trees, and plants, than any diety or "god". Shinto shrines around the country celebrate many of the floer festivals, and tomorrow, I will be visiting the celebration of the moment, the blooming of the Plum blossoms, UME. Also, the current season here is all about Hepatica, Camellia and the other plants which bloom at the moment.


  1. Be sure to get Mashasi's address!!

    1. J0e - I could not track him down this time. I took the train to Yokohama, and he isn't there. Shige may know where he is, and I will be having drinks ( and most frighteningly -- karioke) tonight with him.


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