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Newsletter: Delivery Of Japan's Seasonal Tradition

Delivered on February 28, 2014
Delivery Of Japan's Seasonal Tradition: February 2014, Issue 15

Delivery Of Japan's Seasonal Tradition [Issue 15]
February 28, 2014
Japanese Traditional Culture Promotion & Development Organization


1. Seasonal Flower:
Fragrant even from a bud: Jinchouge (Winter daphne)

:: 1. Seasonal Flower

Fragrant even from a bud: Jinchouge (Winter daphne)

A "Tanka" sung by Wakayama Bokusui as follows:
"Jinchouge imadawa sakanu hagakureno kurenai tsubomi nioi koboruru"

Interpretation as follows:
"Although winter daphne has yet to bloom, the scent is dispersing
from the red bud beneath the leaves"

When the cold winter is nearly over, winter daphne let's people know
of the spring arrival by its pleasant scent even from afar. The
origin of the flower is areas to the south of China and the Himalaya
Mountains. It was cultivated in the Muromachi period around the 1300s.

Jinchouge was seemingly named for its scent, similar to Jinkou
(agarwood), a kind of sandalwood, or a spiced Chouji (clove). It is
also called 千里花(Senribana) for it's strong scent metaphorically
said to have reached as far as Senri (a distance about four
kilometers). It was banned in traditional tea ceremonies in order not
to disturb the tea incense because of it's strong scent. Like the
autumn flower aurantiacus, the scent of winter daphne inform people
of the changing season.

In a traditional Chinese story, it was described that a monk was
awakened by the scent of winter daphne. Because of this, winter
daphne was called 睡香(suikou). Sui means sleep and kou means scent.
People gradually came to call it 瑞香(zuikou) which means "scent of
good luck." The flower is loved and treasured by many people.

Following the scent of winter daphne, many other spring flowers come
into bloom all at once. It seems like winter daphne is telling
everyone that the cold winter will be over soon.

Translation: Hitomi Kochi, reviewed by Yoshiko Nagao

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