TsukuBlog

A Local Perspective on Life in Tsukuba, Ibaraki, Japan.

Admire the Handiwork of Japan`s Edo Period Horticulturalists and choose your favorite variety of Primrose – Sakuraso (桜草), at the Tsukuba Botanical garden ( April 14 thru 22)

 

Primrose at the Tsukuba Botanical Garden

Since the Edo Period (1603-1868) Japanese flower breeders have been able to create hundreds of variations on a single type of primrose – SAKURASO-

By Avi Landau

 

The Edo Period (1603-1868) presents us with a great paradox. While severe restrictions were placed on almost every aspect of life (travel, religion, choice of occupation, etc, etc,), there was at the same time a marvelous flourishing of culture. Among the more famous representatives of the unique arts that arose in that time (and are still with us) are:  haiku poetry, woodblock prints (UKIYO-E),and the Kabuki and Bunraku (puppet) theater. Less well known, but no less impressive, was the flowering of the horticultural arts (uniquely popular among warriors and commoners alike!) - and it was a real craze – with the publication (over the years) of excellent manuals, the creation of hundred of varieties of certain favoured plants: camellia, peony, chrysanthemum, iris , adonis, morning glory etc, the creation of regular and very popular  flower markets (which are held to this day) - and most importantly, an appreciation and enthusiasm among the general populace of the beauty of flowers.

Primrose

Primrose

One of the favorite flowers of the Edo Period (and beyond) was the SAKURASO- (桜草) – the primrose, which is found in Japan, Korea, and northeastern China. About 300 varieties were developed by enthusiasts of this plant – all from a single variety originally found growing along the banks of the Arakawa River in Edo (now Tokyo).

One of the interesting ways in which sakuraso- were enjoyed was by having them suspended in a translucent gelatine called kanten!

Sakuraso- (桜草) - in many colors shapes and sizes - creations over the centuries of Japan`s floriculture enthusiasts.

Sakuraso- (桜草) – in many colors shapes and sizes – creations over the centuries of Japan`s floriculture enthusiasts.

You can see many of these variation on that single flower – on display at the Tsukuba Botanical Garden. Even more than discovering all the colors and shapes that have been somehow tweaked out over the generations – it is the excitement of the visitors that is of real interest (to me, at least) – a clear connection with the Edo Period and its horticultural mania!

And this being mid spring – the precincts of the botanical garden offers much more beyond the primrose, which are located just past the entrance hall.

 



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