Wednesday, May 26, 2010

紫陽花 (アジサイ) - Hydrangea

My hubby came back with a bunch of hydrangea as a present for me! The weather in Brno has been rather crazy (sunny, cloudy, rainy, and we even had hail!! - btw, all in one day), and it was so nice to have beautifully colored hydrangea in our room.

Japanese for hydrangea is "Ajisai." It is famous for having a set of very unique Kanji characters associated with it as 紫陽花 (3 characters represending the meaning of purple, sun, and flower). Since Ajisai typically blooms during late May to July (during the rainy season in Japan), I always associated Ajisai with rain and not with "sun" as one of its characters represents. In fact, the wiki mentions that the kanji characters for Ajisai was mistakenly adopted by the scholar Minamoto no Shitagō (911 - 983) who referred what the poet Bai Juyi wrote about another flower (assumed to be Lilac).

There was also an interesting story related to Ajisai on wiki. The famous Philipp Franz Balthasar von Siebold, who came to Japan in 1823 during the time Japan was closed from any kind of foreign affairs. Even then, limited number of Dutch were allowed to come in, and Siebold who were both physician and scientist was one of them. Seibold was a German, but he was a Dutch army military officer.

During his stay in Japan, Siebold lived together with his Japanese partner Kusumoto Taki (楠本滝), and later they had a kid together - only 2 years before Siebold had to leave Japan. Anyway, Siebold used to call Taki "Otakusa," and used her name as as "Hydrangea Otakusa" to name the flower (later it just became Hydrangea). Beautiful story!

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