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法輪寺重陽の節会/Chrysanthemum Festival at Hourinji Temple


Sep 9 in Japan recently is known as the Day of Ambulance and this encourages people to use ambulance properly. One major social problem is that some people consider it as a free taxi which can be driven fastest on streets and call it without any kinds of emergency because using ambulance is for free in Japan. However traditionally, this day has been celebrated as Chrysanthemum Festival or 2Choyo-no-sekku".

数字の9は一桁の奇数として最大であることから、中国に倣って尊ばれてきました。陽が重なると書いて重陽。この日には菊酒、 菊の着綿(きせわた)など、菊を愛でる習慣があります。

They have appreciated number nine which is the highest single-digit odd number in the same way in China. Sep 9 counts nine twice, so it’s been the most important day. On this day, we have a custom to enjoy chrysanthemum, even we drink sake with the petals in it.


Here is another thing. We put cotton on the flower for one night so that it absorbs the fragrance and dew, and cleanse our body with it. This purification has been believed to bring us longevity.

着綿/ Kisewata


Why chrysanthemum? Some of you might know Japanese imperial family crest is also this flower and often people say it’s very auspicious. Here is a story related to its magical power.


Once in China, a boy was serving for the emperor. His attitude and good looking endear him to the emperor so much. But one day, he mistakenly stepped across an emperor’s pillow, which was very rude and deserved a death penalty.


The emperor didn’t want to execute him. However, he needed to punish him. Others advised him that driving him into exile was enough.


The day had come at last. He arrived at a valley where no human beings seemed to be able to live. The emperor gave him two Buddhist words in the last moment before he departed, with a very warm wish so that he could survive. He started to write them down on leaves of chrysanthemums so as not to forget them.


Then, pearls of dew from its leaves dropped into a stream. He realized himself thirsty and drunk water from the small river. It was the most delicious water he’d ever tried. It was sweet with fine perfume. The water turned to be magical one.


Since then, the boy drunk the water every day, and he had never got older.

菊慈童人形/ Kikuzido doll
菊慈童/A doll of the chrysanthemum boy


Today at Hourinji Temple, this story was performed by Noh (traditional Japanese dance) actors. And people tried sake after it. It was very hot day in the afternoon, but they were happy to come all the way to enjoy this moment.

法輪寺/ Horinji

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