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The Kakitsubata - Irises in Japanese Culture & at RoHoEn

Updated: Mar 23, 2023

Here at the Japanese Friendship Garden of Phoenix we have various types of iris and locations in the Garden, both land and water, and some are beginning to unfold already. Irises have been written about in many famous, ancient Japanese poems, as well as paintings, kimono patterns and even Noh plays.

Ariwara no Narihira composed the most famous Japanese iris themed poem while travelling and having been moved by the beauty of a Yatsuhashi bridge (an Eight–Planked Bridge of Japanese Gardens, reminiscent of RoHoEn’s main zig zag bridge across our pond), where irises were blooming around and below.

“Just as a karakoromo (Chinese robe) comfortably fits my body after wearing it a long time, I comfortably fit my wife. I however came all the way to the East, leaving her behind in Kyoto. Alas, it is heart-rending to travel so far.”

Narihira used the five syllables of the word for iris, “ka-ki-tsu-ba-ta,” at the beginning of each verse of the poem above.

Later this famous Iris poem in Tales of Ise inspired Ogata Kōrin to paint his abstract version of water and Japanese irises on folding screens. In turn, Ogata’s screens are believed to have influenced the Impressionist paintings of irises by Vincent van Gogh.

Come to the Japanese Friendship Garden of Phoenix - RoHoEn to enjoy our bridges and irises with these cultural threads in mind. #iris #japanese #culture #rohoen #jfgphx #japanesefriendshipgarden #japanesegardens #spring #phoenix

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