Today the Asagaho is commonly referred to as "Kikyou" a type of lily. It is one of the seven grasses and flowers of autumn, and begins to bloom around the middle of August. The flower is a deep purple in the shape of a star. To this day the roots of this flower are made into "Kanbouyaku," a type of medicine. Other uses include the making of a spicy form of sake served during New Years.
Morning glory! the well bucket-entangled, I ask for water
Akane is a variety of mountain vine that blooms small white flowers in autumn. The dye produced from its root is of a red color, and has been used for dying since ancient times. White cloth when dyed with akane turns the a crimson color of sunrise. The word "茜さす” (akanesasu) is a pillow word, meaning to be pricked (or in this case dyed red) by the forces of love.
Asagao/Mukuge (Rose of Sharon/Mallow Flower)
A completely different type of flower as that mentioned above, the Asagaho is known these days as Mukege. The flower is the blooms to a shrub that blooms in summer. The flowers come in a variety of shades, including Crimson, pink, white and purple. The flowers begin the day wrapped and curled upon the shrub and gradually unfurl throughout the day. However by evening the blooms to the flowers have faded and they drop.
Mallow flower By the side of the road- Devoured by my horse.
Ichishi/Higanbana (Spider Lilies)
The Ichishi a perennial flower most often seen along banksides and growing wild amoungst cemetaries. Starting around the equinotical week when Buddhist serves are held, the stalk of the flower springs out and a bright red flower opens. As these flowers are often found growing in cemeteries, they are also called "Shininbana" or Flower of the Dead. In the Manyoshu a poet remarks that along the roadside these bright red flowers catch a passerby's eyes, as though telling the world of their beauty. The poet, likewise, wants to tell the world of his happy love.
Red lace of the spider lilies: crowds admire Daruma's color shows
Ashi is a type of grass found growing in the damp soil around ponds and other forms of water. It is roughly three meters high growing in many numbers. In Japan in a place called Toyohashihara the ashi grew quite luxuriantly, just as it grows in China. During the time of the Manyoshu ashi was used to form thatch fences. However, in these modern days the Yoshizu is prevalently used.
Like the morning mist that hovers over the heads of grain, in the autumn fields When will longing for my love lift up and be blown away?
Ajisai, or hydrangea, blooms during the 6th month in Japan, and is considered a sign of the humid rainy season. It grows native to Japan, and was breed from the less full "gakuajisai" into the modern day ajisai, known for its fuller head. As referenced in the Manyoshu, it is suggested that the Ajisai, despite its heavy burden of so many petals manages to bloom magnificently--the composer of the poem suggesting that the object of his affection remain as resilient and goodhearted as ever.
The Awogiri is known for its green trunk and large leaves, similar to that of the Pawlonia. In summer the tree produces yellowish flowers. It is often considered a roadside tree.
The Ichihi is a species of oak found in Japan. It can grow up to thirty meters high, and bears edible fruit in the autumn. The wood from the tree is resilient, and is considered choice by carpenters. The tree is mentioned in the Manyoshu when mentioned in a song, where a hunter finds a stag beneath an Ichihi tree and debates on whether he should kills the creature or no.
During the time the Manyoshu was written, rice was only eaten by one percent of the population. The hulling of the rice was a job performed during the winter. There was a poem concerning the embaresement one felt over the coarse feeling to their hand. However, when they were held kindly by the soft hands of their lord they felt at piec felt over his hands that became coarse and rough during the hulling of the rice.
The Unohana blooms amongst the bright green of early summer. With its small pleasing shape, it cleanses the soul. Although the plant itself is known to help aid in cleaning, the flowers are relatively unknown. In the Manyoshu a poem compares the unnoticed scattering of the unohana flower peddles, like her unrequited love.
Although in modern times flower viewing in Japan is associated with the cherry blossom, in the Heian Period plum blossom viewing was also enjoyed. The tree originates in China, and was brought over to Japan long ago. The plum blossoms are considered one of the earliest signs of spring, often blooming in temperatures still cold enough for snow.
The flowers of the plum,
Were covered with fallen snow
Which I wrapped up
But when I tried to have you see
It was melting in my hands
The leaves of the taro plant are very similar to the wide sturdy leaves of the lotus. During summer mornings, dew and moisture are trapped in these large leaves, and fall to the ground in large circular drops like marbles. In Japan many children play with these leaves, attempting not to spill the collected moisture inside. When the sun is strong, or when there is heavy rain, one can use these leaves as a hat or type of umbrella. It also seems that during the Heian Period, when people gathered together for some sort of event, they enjoyed the taro leaves in a variety of ways, such as tableware or even composing poetry on or about the leaves.