Outline of Exhibition

Traditional Japanese Morning Glories


Japanese Morning Glory

The morning glory (Asagao) has been cherished by many people in Japan since ancient times. Japan experienced a number of morning glory booms particularly in the latter part of the Edo period, namely in the Bunka, Bunsei, and Tempo eras (1804 - 1844), Kaei and Ansei eras (1848 - 1860), and Meiji and Taisho eras (1868 - 1926). During these booms, mutant morning glories were produced and a diversity of changes and combinations of leaves and flowers could be enjoyed. This is peculiar in the world as they were produced by discovering a mutation using today's genetics technology and establishing it as a strain. At the end of the Edo era in particular, a great number of varieties were produced. Some of them were overshadowed by large-blossomed morning glories and became extinct before becoming popular among people. However, others have been conserved by the efforts of some hobbyists, although they were not cultivated widely, and have survived even to this day.

Since 1999, the National Museum of Japanese History has exhibited these traditional morning glories produced by using the original knowledge and technologies accumulated since the Edo period as historical resources to make them known widely among people and so as to consider the relationship between people and plants. This year's exhibition has the same purpose as before. It will exhibit related species such as Ipomoea purpurea, etc. as “Relatives of Morning Glories” and will also display panels on this theme.

Period Jul. 31 (Tue) - Sep. 2 (Sun), 2012
Venue Botanical Garden of Everyday Life, National Museum of Japanese History
Admissions Groups of 20 or more: ¥50 per person
* Free admission for children junior high school age and younger
* Free admission for high school students every Saturday

9:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m. (entrance closed at 4:00 p.m.)
* The Garden will open at 8:30 a.m. on Monday Aug. 13 to Sunday Aug. 19, 2011.
* Viewing is best in the early morning due to the special way in which the morning glory bloom.

Closed Aug. 6 (Mon), 20 (Mon) , and 27 (Mon)
*The exhibition is opened on Aug. 13.
Sponsor National Museum of Japanese History

Exhibition Lineup

The morning glories bred by us will be exhibited in pots in the greenhouse, Azuma-ya, and the Yoshizu exhibition hall of the Botanical Garden of Everyday Life. The contents of the exhibition are shown below.

  • Mutant morning glories: 48 Masaki strains and 26 Demono strains (including the apetalous morning glory discovered by Rekihaku in 2005)
  • Large-blossomed morning glories produced since the Meiji period: About 40 strains
  • Species closely related to morning glories produced in Europe and North America: About 22 strains
Green  variegated, star contracted, cicada leaves, red in white, spray star flower
Yellow cicada leaves, chestnut brown, fully open, large-blossomed flower (Danjuro)
The leaves are yellow cicada leaves, and the flower is of a brown color also called kaki (persimmon). It is named Danjuro because the color is Ichikawa Danjuro’s favorite.
Green,  crumpled, semi-contracted willow leaf, green delicate, duplicate flower
Yellow variegated, cicada leaves, pale blue striped, fully-open, large-blossomed flower (Kiyotakigawa)
The large flower has mutations called suhama (retracted) and tonboba (dragonfly leaf), and the leaves are semiba (cicada leaves) with veins brimming in the base of the lamina, which is a mutation called hadanugi (brim vein). The petals are many and large. It has a striped pattern.
Green  delicate leaves, black pigeon cut criss-crossed flower
Matsushima, hoe-shaped leaves, purple in white, flecked, multicolored, fully open flower
The Matsushima leaves have green splotches on yellow leaves, and the flower pattern is flecked, variegated, and multicolored.
Green,  contracted leaves, contracted lilliputian, red,   white-tubed, fully open flower
Green, contracted leaves, contracted lilliputian, red, white-tubed, fully open flower
The leaves are very firm and dark green like a cactus. It grows very slowly up to around 20 cm.
Matsushima,  hoe-shaped leaves, purple in white, flecked, multicolored, fully open flower  (Sakiwake)
Green, crystal variegated, contracted weak willow leaves, pale lilac, tip-margined, delicate, duplicate flower
The leaves are narrow like willow and thick and firm because of “contraction.” The petals are thin and tapered like dianthus. It is called saizaki (delicate) because it blooms like the saihai (baton) held by samurai commanders.
Yellow  variegated, cicada leaves, green axis, red in white, flecked, multicolored,  fully open, large-blossomed flower (Genpei)
Green, dragonfly, round delicate leaves, apetalous duplicate flower
This is a mutant discovered at the Museum's Botanical Garden of Everyday Life in 2005. It has only sepals because the genes for forming petals, stamens, and pistils do not work, with only the genes for forming sepals working.
Yellow  cicada leaves, chestnut brown, fully open, large-blossomed flower (Danjuro)
Milky Way
This features a pattern of striking colors on the petals called petal splotches in Ipomoea purpurea. The Milky Way is sold and distributed by seed nursery companies.
Yellow  gripping dragon nail leaf, purple full wind-bell, feathered, duplicate flower
Kenyan yellow (Ipomoea)
This is a species closely related (convolvulaceous sweet potato family) to morning glories, and the flower is yellow. There are quite a number of records of yellow morning glories in the literature of the Edo period, but there is currently no strain of morning glories that can definitely be called yellow.

Names of mutant morning glories

Among the cultivated plants grown in the Edo period, unique names are given to mutant morning glories. The ranking lists in the first boom (Bunka and Bunsei eras) show the beginning of such naming, but the basic method was established in the second boom (Kaei and Ansei eras). With this naming method, the leaf color, pattern, quality, and shape, stem shape, and flower color, pattern, petals, blooming form, and overlapping of petals are described in order, and other features are added as needed. This naming method is very sensible even from the viewpoint of current genetic technology.

Take “Green, crystal variegated, contracted weak willow leaves, pale lilac, tip-margined, delicate, duplicate flower” for example. The name first describes the leaves. It may be broken down into green (color of the leaves), crystal variegated (pattern), contracted weak (quality), and willow leaves (shape). This means that the leaves are green and crystal variegated with mutations of “contraction” and “willow.” Next is the description of the flower. In the same way as the description of the leaves, it may be broken down into pale lilac (color of the flower), tip-margined (pattern), and delicate, duplicate flower (blooming form). It means that the flower color is margined on pale lilac, the petals are like dianthus, and the flower blooms in a fine-split form called saizaki.

Note: Please note that items in the exhibition are subject to change.