Thursday, September 11, 2014

43. 草露白: "Grasses White With Dew"

(BGM: "Colors Of The Wind" by Vanessa Williams)

Morning dew christens blades of ripening rice (Hiroshima Prefecture).
Shichijuni-kou (72 Seasons) Calendar Listing
仲秋, Chuju: "Mid-Autumn"
Season No. 15: 白露, Hakuro
"White Dew"

Morning windshield art.
Climate No. 43: 草露白
Kusa No Tsuyu Shirushi
"Grasses White With Dew"
(September 7 -September 11)

Morning walks are so sensuous this time of year! The contrast of hot and cold is stark and defined. Protected from the chill breeze with a freshly-laundered pullover, I head up into the mountains with bamboo walking stick in hand. Sometimes I stray from the trail, dragging sandaled feet through dew-moistened grass, enjoying the sensation of foot pores drinking in tiny beads of pure water. The air circles lazy and sweet with an intoxicating blend of kudzu blossoms and cypress needles. Before the hot sun emerges from behind the still-sleeping mountains, burning off all of this delicious mist, I steal fleeting moments to savor this spontaneous garden of gossamer all around me. Autumn is truly here and instead of feeding my melancholy, she heals it. 

 "Bush clover flowers
    They sway but do not drop
       Their beads of dew ."   -Matsuo Basho

Flowers Of The Season: 秋の七草, Aki No Nanagusa,
"The Seven Flowers of Autumn"

The following seven flowers have been employed as motifs in Japanese art, kimono design, gardens, poetry and music for centuries, expressing varying moods and emotions associated with autumn. Aside from ominaeshi, which is sadly becoming increasingly rare, most of these former wildflowers can still be enjoyed today as cultivars in many Japanese front yards, parks and gardens.

I've been fortunate enough over the years to catch sight of nearly all of the Seven Flowers of Autumn. A few of these lovelies (like the bellflower and morning glory) begin blooming in early summer but somehow continue to push out their flowers long into the colder months. Since they hang around for so long, they begin to feel like companions after awhile. From this perspective, it's easy to understand the cultural staying power of these simple, yet elegant plants.

1. オミナエシ, Ominaeshi, Scabious patrinia

"Patrinia Scabiosifolia2" by Kempei (a Creative Commons photo via

2. 葛, Kuzu, Arrowroot (Pueraria lobata)

A sweet-smelling kudzu blossom adds charm to this parasitic plant (Maibara, Shiga).

3. ススキ, Susuki, Pampas Grass (Miscanthus sinensis)

Shimmering susuki rustling in September winds (Fujishiro, Ibaraki).

4. 桔梗, Kikyou, Bellflower (Platycodon grandiflorus)

A proud kikyou shows off her origami balloon children (Sankeien Gardens, Hiroshima).

5. ナデシコ, Nadeshiko, Pink (Dianthus)

A fragrant patch of nadeshiko clings to a stone wall (Maibara, Shiga).

6. 萩の花, Hagi No Hana, Bush Clover (Lespedeza)

A wall of hanging hagi bobs along the path to Sankeien Gardens near Hiroshima Int'l Airport.

7. フジバカマ, Fujibakama, Thoroughwort (Eupatorium purpureum)

A thirsty Chestnut Tiger butterfly laps up fujibakama nectar (Iwakuni, Yamaguchi Prefecture).
8. 朝顔, Asagao, Morning Glory (Ipomoea)
(The asagao is occasionally included in place of kikyou as one of the Seven Flowers of Autumn).

Morning dew dots a morning glory (Takehara, Hiroshima).

Copyright 2014 Genkilee, Gen. All rights reserved. No part of this blog (written or photo content) may be reproduced or reprinted without the expressed permission of the author.

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