Outline of Exhibition

Traditional plants of the Seasons: Winter Flowers"Camellia sasanqua"

Cultivars of Camellia sasanqua began appearing at the beginning of the Edo period (early 17th century), and while the popularity of the shrub went through repeated ups and downs in the subsequent centuries, a large number of varieties have been handed down to the present day. In recent years "sazanka", as the species is commonly known in Japan, is once more finding favor as urban greenery and hedge material. Wild types can be found from Iriomote Island in the Ryukyu archipelago to Kyushu and surrounding islands, and the southwest region of Shikoku. These wild types were used to create a large number of varieties whose popularity as "winter flowers" in Japanese horticultural circles ensured that they were carried far beyond the natural distribution area into both eastern and western regions of Honshu, Japan's main island.

The first record of Camellia sasanqua varieties was made by Ihei Ito (1695-1733), during whose lifetime a great many famous cultivars were created.

Professor Naoki Hakoda of Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology's Faculty of Agriculture has made a collection of over 250 varieties of Camellia sasanqua grown in both Japan and the rest of Asia. This is not only the most extensive collection in existence, but insofar as it also serves to demonstrate the characteristics of Japanese horticulture, it is also an invaluable reference. We are accordingly very eager to use real Camellia sasanqua varieties to show how the relationship between people and this plant has changed from the start of the 17th century to the present day, and through such an exhibit, provide a glimpse into the Japanese sense of beauty and perception of nature in this period.

Dates Tuesday, November 18 through Friday, December 26, 2003
Venue The Botanical Garden of Everyday Life, The National Museum of Japanese History
Admissions Included in general admission fee
Hours 9:30 - 16:30 (visitors admitted into Garden no later than 16:00)
Sponsor National Museum of Japanese History