Pink Chrysanthemum at the Autumn Festival in Tokyo, Japan
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Autumn Festival in Japan

A number of festivals and shows take place throughout Japan in autumn, when the flowers bloom. Chrysanthemum Day is one of the five ancient sacred festivals. 

To the Japanese, the chrysanthemum symbolizes royalty, longevity and rejuvenation.

The Tokyo Metropolitan Tourism Chrysanthemum event has been held in November of every year since 1915. Unfortunately, in 2020 and probably in 2021 due to the pandemic, the event was postponed.

As I mentioned in my previous article, we were there in 2018 at the Autumn Festival in Hibiya Park in Chiyoda City, Tokyo. But most of the parks and gardens around Japan display a wide range of types and styles of Chrysanthemums:

  • The first category is the exhibition of cultivated flowers with large, beautiful flower heads or ‘dolls’.
  • The second category is for bonsai flowers, which are combined with dead pieces of wood to give the illusion of miniature trees. The effect is quite stunning, especially when the tiny plants are compared to their larger counterparts on the opposite side of the exhibit.
  • The third category is the creation of miniature landscapes

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Kiku - The Art of Chrysanthemum

Chrysanthemum cultivation began in Japan during the Nara and Heian periods, and gained popularity in the Edo period (early 17th to late 19th century). 

Many flower shapes, colours, and varieties were created, notably:

  • The Japanese Ogiku (great chrysanthemum) Style or ‘single-stem’ form, is a traditional method of training certain chrysanthemums. It requires careful pinching and disbudding throughout the growing season.
  • The amazing Ozukuri Style of training chrysanthemums is perhaps the most difficult. This “thousand bloom” form takes 11 months of train, using cuttings from a single plant. The petals look more like needles, but they are spectacular.
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Flowering Chrysanthemum Bonsai

In Japan, a form of bonsai chrysanthemum was developed over the centuries.

The cultivated flower has a lifespan of about 5 years and can be kept in miniature size.

These are often displayed using pieces of deadwood or stone, with the flower’s roots growing down the back of the stone or wood block to give the illusion (from the front) that this flower is a miniature tree.

The images shown here were taken at Hibiya Park in Tokyo

I don’t normally photograph flowers. That is, not professionally. However, I made an exception here because I can appreciate the art and dedication that is required to create these exhibitions.

Also, my husband loves bonsai! It is his life-long hobby and he likes to be inspired and get new ideas from time to time. Thus, I tried to put together a small collection of reference photos for him. I hope that you, too, will be inspired!

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Daniela Constantinescu

Daniela is an architecture and landscape photographer based in Sydney, Australia. In her blog, she likes to share her experience and her thoughts about the creative process in photography hoping to inspire and encourage others to improve their craft and grow as artists.