• Yuri

お彼岸/The Equinoctial Week In Japan


Japanese say “Neither heat nor cold lasts beyond the equinox.” Indeed, it’s been very pleasant temperature to walk around. The clear blue sky and a breeze tell us it’s the beginning of autumn.


Tomorrow is the Fall Equinox, and called the middle of “higan,” a week-long Buddhist ceremony celebrated in Japan. During this season, we visit our cemeteries to clean our ancestors’ graves as tradition.


There is a flower which blooms in this higan season. This Lycoris flower is called higanbana, literary means the flower of higan, or equinox flower. The beauty of its cardinal red and its delicate shape might catch your eyes. However, be careful. It’s poisonous. When you eat it, you will see the pearly gates. The word “higan” originally means the world of the deceased so even people say the flower is the symbol of death.


The bloody red reminded a famous poet of his friend’s unfortune, and he wrote about it in a very sad poem. The flower for him was detestable, and the symbol of tragedy.



Having said that, the flower is not always associated with something bad. It has another beautiful name that refers to a relation with Buddha. What’s more, the poison prevents animals from coming to fields and graves. If you know the proper way, it’s edible, too, so they sometimes plant it intentionally.


Japanese attitude toward the flower; sometimes we hate, sometimes we welcome, seems the same as Japanese Buddhist view of life and death. We accept death though we are not willing to die. Buddhism tells us to live as it is. And often we find things have double (or multiple) sides.


It would be a good idea to think about your life and your family when you see higanbana and enjoy the beauty.

28 views1 comment
  • Facebook
  • グレーTwitterのアイコン
  • Instagram

© 2020 Tabinomushi All rights reserved.