What Is the National Flower of Japan?

Yumi Murata

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National Flower of Japan

Do you know these flowers?

In summer I introduced the morning glory, however, when we think of Japanese flowers in fall, what comes to mind is 菊 (kiku), the chrysanthemum. Even though Japan doesn’t have an official “national flower”, many Japanese consider the cherry blossom and the chrysanthemum to be the flowers that represent Japan.

The symbol of the Japanese Imperial family is the “chrysanthemum crest”.

This is the Imperial chrysanthemum crest.

This symbol can also be found on the cover of Japanese passports. The chrysanthemum motif is often used as a design for Japanese sweets, such as monaka, or as a decoration for Buddhist altar fittings.

Every fall, events where we can enjoy seeing chrysanthemums are held all over Japan. One of them, the Tokyo Metropolitan Tourism Chrysanthemum Exhibition, was held at Hibiya Park from the 1st of November through the 23rd in 2014. This is a contest for enthusiasts who grow chrysanthemums as a hobby, and it began in 1913 (Taisho period).

The highlight of the contest is the display of large chrysanthemums.

Atsumono: This is a type of chrysanthemum which has hemispherical blooms that are as big as a child’s head.

Blooms which have a perfect shape are considered to be the most superior flowers.

Kudamono: This type of chrysanthemum has petals that are shaped like straws.

These chrysanthemum flowers are not only large but also tall, about 1m to 1.3 m in height. In this photo one pot has 3 blooms each, which is a traditional way of displaying the flowers called “daigikubonyou”.

In another corner there is a display of small bonsai chrysanthemum plants .

There are even mini bonsai chrysanthemums in pots with a diameter of about 10 cm.

This style of gardening has a history and tradition going back to the Edo period, however it is not as popular as “ohanami”, which means “cherry blossom viewing”. Young people in particular are not interested in going to see chrysanthemums.

This is probably because people nowadays tend to associate chrysanthemums with funerals and cemeteries as they are commonly given as offerings to the dead. However, the tradition still continues, and exhibitions are held all over Japan in places such as shrines, parks and botanical gardens. If you have a chance, please go to see an exhibition.

Finally, the pictures below are from the Chrysanthemum Festival at Yushima Tenjin shrine. “Kikuningyo”, which are dolls wearing kimonos made of chrysanthemums, are displayed there from the 1st of November through the 23rd.

Event Information

Tokyo Metropolitan Tourism Chrysanthemum Exhibition
Date: 1st to 23th November 2014
Place: Hibiya Park Kusachi Hiroba

Bunkyo Kiku Matsuri (Chrysanthemum Festival)
Date: 1st to 23th November 2014
Place: Yushima Tenmangu Shrine

Translated by Yumi Murata

The information covered in this article was correct at the time of writing. In the case of national holidays and seasonal holidays, opening hours may vary. If the information has changed, please notify us and we will alter it accordingly.