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Newsletter: Delivery Of Japan's Seasonal Tradition

Delivered on January 06, 2015
Delivery Of Japan's Seasonal Tradition [Issue 43] January 6, 2015

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Delivery Of Japan's Seasonal Tradition [Issue 43]
January 6, 2015
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Japanese Traditional Culture Promotion & Development Organization
(JTCO)
http://www.jtco.or.jp/en/

CONTENTS:

1.Seasonal Flower:
A blooming hermit at waterside:
Suisen (Daffodil)


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:: 1. Seasonal Flower
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A blooming hermit at waterside: Suisen (Daffodil)

Here is a "Tanka"(a Japanese poem) in "Chijinoyashu", composed by
Chigusa Arikoto.

"Huri kakusu Yuki uchiharai Yamabito no Namo kaguwashiki Hanawo
mirukana"

Interpretation: When I clear the piled snow, I found an elegant flower
with a fragrance, which I named it as "Sennin" (hermit).

There is a famous story in Greek mythology.When a handsome young man
called Narcissus (a derivation from the word "narcissist"), was
fascinated by his own reflection in the water, he was changed into a
daffodil. Daffodil originated in the Mediterranean coast and was
exported to China in the period of the Tang Dynasty. Chinese used a
metaphor like this : A hermit who is in the sky is Tensen(天仙), who
is on the land is Chisen(地仙) and who is in water is Suisen(水仙, the
Japanese name of daffodil).

Daffodil suits the Japanese climate and grow fast without special care.
Therefore, wild daffodils can be seen on comparatively warm shores in
the South of Honshu. Izu in Shizuoka prefecture and Cape Echizen-
Misaki in Hukui prefecture are known as the habitat of myriads of
daffodil.

Although the daffodil was brought to Japan at the end of the Heian
period (12c), it is shocking that it hadn't been sung in tanka until
modern times. From the fact that it doesn't have a Japanese name and
also the Chinese name was used as it is, it seems that Japanese
singers weren't interested in daffodils much at that time.

As the poem we mentioned at the beginning, the blooming season of
daffodil is coming because it usually blooms with fragrance in winter
season. Daffodils were admired as an incarnation of beauty in Greece
and China. Why don't we appreciate it for one day in winter?

Translation: Hitomi Kochi, reviewed by Chan Yitin


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