Chrysanthemum (KIKU)

 

Today the world recognizes the chrysanthemum (Kiku) as the national flower of Japan. Visiting Buddist monks brought the chrysanthemum from China to Japan in AD 400. It was grown as an herb, with a simple yellow flower that had various medicinal uses that proved valuable to their culture.

 

So taken were the Japanese with this flower, the Imperial family adopted it as their official crest (Mon). This 16-floret variety is called Ichimonjigiku. In the Kamakura (1185-1333) and Muromachi (1333-1568) periods the people of Japan cultivated this flower based on a unique sense of beauty and each region cultivates their own variety.

 

The small yellow chrysanthemum was worn as a golden badge of courage by warriors from the south during the War of Dynasties, which began in 1357 lasting for 55 years. The Imperial Order of the Chrysanthemum is their highest order of chilvary.

 

This plant with aromatic leaves and flowers, is believed to have the power of life and virtue and so is widely used as a design element on Kimono, Haori, ceramics and in art. In the Japanese language of flowers, Kiku represents "purity" and expresses feminine affection.

 

The ninth day of the ninth month is devoted to the admiration of this floral symbol of Japan, as National Chrysanthemum Day celebrated with an appropriate Festival of Happiness.

 

"Animals and Flowers" in Japanese Art & Antiques

         June F. Clark