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Maeve Hillengas at chrysanthemum exhibition

Maeve at the Annual Chrysanthemum Exhibition at Shinjuku Gyoen

Join KCP student Maeve as she shares her experience at the annual Chrysanthemum Exhibition at Shinjuku Gyoen. Shinjuku Gyoen Park is one of Tokyo’s largest and most beautiful parks,  and is only a short distance from the  KCP campus. The park event showcased the chrysanthemum flower which is a symbol of the Japanese imperial family and is featured in the Imperial Seal of Japan, the 50-yen coin, and Japanese passports.

Maeve in her own words…

I went to the Shinjuku Gyoen National Park this week for the annual Chrysanthemum Exhibition with fellow US Program student, Travis. The cost to enjoy the national park was only 250 yen per student. Once inside we were able to enjoy the lovely seventy-three degree weather with many Japanese families and more importantly, the chrysanthemums. Each station was decorated with various types and shapes of the beautiful bloom with a description regarding the history and the types of chrysanthemums.Travis Kershner at chrysanthemum exhibition

Travis Kershner at chrysanthemum exhibition

We learned a lot! For example, the Kengai bed is the training technique to make small flowered chrysanthemums have the appearance of the flower in bloom in the wild on the cliff. This is called Kengai style as it is cascading; each pot is placed on an old pedestal and shows the harmony of color and was first created in 1915.

We also learned about the Ise, Choji and Saga-giku beds. All three are classical varieties of chrysanthemum displays. The Ise variety derives from the Mie Prefecture and is distinct for it’s crinkled and drooping petals. Whilst the Choji variety is an anemone-like flowers and Saga variety derived from Kyoto, has thin and straight petals. The Ise and Saga varieties are trained to be shaped similarly to a broom form known as Hoki-zukuri while the Choji variety is formed in what is called Ichiroku-zukuri; or one flower in the center surrounded by six flowers. These were first created in 1955.

Maeve Hillengas chrysanthemum expedition 1Out of all of the different varieties, my favorite is the Ozukuri bed. It takes a year for one root division to produce hundreds of flowers in a dome shape by unique technique of pinching and training. This style is original and was developed in Shinjuku Gyoen and set precedent for the style of “thousand bloom” chrysanthemums that are now seen all throughout Japan. This was created in 1884.

I am really grateful to the Ministry of Environment for this opportunity to learn about the flowers, history and culture that together all creates this lovely exhibit only lasting two weeks at the beginning of November at one of the most lovely national gardens in the heart of Tokyo.

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Read all about Japanese immersion learning and studying abroad. Check out our eZasshi archives for more articles!