After months of unrelenting control, summer’s horribly clammy fingers are finally beginning to lose their grip on the capital’s climate. Not that it’s currently all that obvious, as the temperatures are still high and the humidity very similar, but the arrival of the late summer/early autumn flowering higanbana (red spider lily), does at least confirm it.
Known as the flower of death, the higanbana is a beautiful, slightly otherworldly sight, that easily lives up to references in its name to, ‘the other shore’.
Poisonous to rodents and other wild animals, they were often planted in and around graveyards during Japan’s pre-cremation days to stop the dead being eaten. Plus their bright colours are said to guide souls into the afterlife, which one would assume explains their use at funerals.
Yet while in many ways representing death, they are nonetheless very resilient to it, as despite being battered by typhoon Man-yi yesterday, this particular flower is still alive, well and just as wondrous.
Charlie Hayward says
Wowza, that red pops. Interesting isn’t it the role red plays in Japanese religion and mythology? My favorite use is the red monkey charm as a ward against evil, but these flowers, something I hadn’t heard of, are certainly up there.
As always, great work!
Yes, it is. A real constant.
It’s only fairly recently that I learned about the higanbana to be honest. Obviously I’d seen the flowers, but could never have guessed the connections and stories surrounding them.
Beautiful, but what a sad story………
Yeah, whether rightly or wrongly, it does make the flower seem rather melancholy.
I’ve seen this flower so many times, but I had no idea it such a strong connection to death. I don’t think I’ll ever look at the same again. Thanks for sharing.
I know. Ever since learning these stories I’m much more aware of the flowers, and without a doubt look at them in a very different light.
Lovely shot! A Great Beauty 🙂
I love Red Spider Lily. Fascinated by its beauty. Miss them badly too.
I hardly see Red Spider Lily in my country. I don’t think they can grow in such a hot and humid place.
Yes, they very beautiful. Very striking too. A real shame you don’t get to see them anymore…
I love the beautiful, slightly otherworldly sight