Higanbana, the pretty amaryllis who became the symbol of death in Japan

Higanbana, the pretty

Image source: https://keikakudoori.files.wordpress.com/2014/02/higanbana-all-characters.jpg

Beautiful flowers are still classified in the family amaryllis is called red spider lily. But the Japanese are more familiar with the name higanbana. For citizens of cherry country, this beautiful red flower is related to death.

According to Hurricane Lilies article, Lycoris Species, in Florida written by Gary W. Knox, higanbana which has latin name Lycoris radiata instead of the original flower from Japan. The plants are from mainland China, Korea. Higanbana then entered Japan and thrived on the Ryukyu Islands.

The flower blooms in late summer or autumn, usually around September. However higanbana also thrives if rainfall is high. Because 'familiar' with heavy rain that sometimes higanbana also called lili storm.

Higanbana flowers grow on the banks of the river Imaginatorium.org

The toxic beauty

Higanbana has a toxic tuber. The poison of this plant is quite dangerous, because that's what ordinary farmers planted on the edge of rice fields. The goal is to prevent rats and other types of pests from approaching rice.

Higanbana grown on the edge of rice fields Japanvisitor.com

Gradually Japanese people also began planting higanbana around the tomb. At that time the Japanese people are not familiar with the procession of cremation as it is now. By planting higanbana, it is expected that the flowers will prevent wild animals prey on fresh human bodies. From there higanbana initially linked with death.

Flower of death from the afterlife

According to Japan Visitor, higanbana comes from the word higan which means 'other beach'. This word is defined as the afterlife, the gathering place of spirits who have left the human world.

Higanbana flower or red spider lily Imaginatorium.orgOrdinary Japanese people celebrate the autumn equinox with higanbana flowers. They performed ritual ceremonies in the ancestral graves and planted higanbana near the graves as a form of reverence.

Flowers higanbana or red spider lily Flickr / Daisuke tashiro

In addition to death, higanbana is also closely related to separation. Some Japanese people believe that seeing a person for the last time, higanbana flowers will bloom along the way.

The sad legends of manju and saka, two higanbana guards

Higanbana leaves and flowers never grow together. If the flowers bloom, the leaves will fall off. When the leaves grow green, turn the wilting flowers. This lies behind a sad legend about a pair of lovers who can never unite.

Sea of ??flowers red spider lily Wikimedia Commons / Kakidai

Reported by Project Gutenberg, there used to be two fairies in charge of keeping higanbana growing in Diyu (hell). Manju is in charge of keeping the flowers, while Saka is ordered to keep the leaves by Amaterasu. Both are forbidden to leave their respective places. But out of curiosity, one day the two fairies meet as the higanbana leaves grow to reach the petals. They fell in love at first sight.

Unfortunately their meeting is known by Amaterasu. The goddess was furious because the two fairies did not heed his orders. Amaterasu also cursed both of them to never meet again. Since then the interest kept by Manju never again grows in the same time as the leaves of Saka. [tsr]

Related Post