Outline of Exhibition

Traditional Antique Chrysanthemum

Chrysanthemums, one of Japan's common horticultural plants, are not native to Japan; however, we know that in the Heian period (794to 1185) Kikkano-en (chrysanthemum-viewing garden parties) were the vogue in the Imperial Court. It is thought that the chrysanthemum was first introduced into Japan from China, together with other cultural items, in the Ritsuryo period(From the latter half of the 7th century to the 10th century).

During the Heian and Kamakura periods (1185 to 1333), special chrysanthemums were developed by members of the ruling class, based on the Japanese people’s sense of beauty. For example, the Saga giku chrysanthemum, which has brush-like petals, was cultivated exclusively in the Daikakuji Temple in Kyoto; and Ise giku, with its drooping petals, was cultivated in connection with the Kokushi (provincial governor) of Ise (present-day Mie Prefecture) and the Ise Jingu Shrine. In this way, the chrysanthemum gradually established its privileged position among the ruling class, for use in parties, as material for artistic crafts, and as a symbol of eternal youth and immortality.

In the middle of Early Modern Japan(Edo period,1800), chrysanthemums gradually became popular among the common people; for example, flower gardens with a variety of chrysanthemum varieties were created, and exhibitions of artworks incorporating chrysanthemums became prevalent. Among the varieties contributing to this popularity were Higo giku, which has sparse petals, and Edo giku, whose petals change shape after blooming, as well as Choji giku, with its hemispherical center. These traditional medium-sized flowers are called Koten giku (classical chrysanthemums).

This year’s theme is Classic Chrysanthemums As Seen by Foreigners. We use Yedo and Peking, by the Scottish botanist Robert Fortune, who came to Japan at the end of the Edo period (1603-1868), and Unbeaten Tracks in Japan, by the British traveler Isabella Lucy Bird, as textual material to introduce the chrysanthemums in which they had an interest, and present display panels describing the flowers.


Period Nov 2 (Tue), 2021- Nov 28 (Sun), 2021
Venue Botanical Garden of Everyday Life, National Museum of Japanese History
Admissions ¥100
Groups of 20 or more: ¥50 per person
* Free admission for children high school age and younger
Hours 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (no entrance after 4:00 p.m.)
Closed Nov.8 (Mon) ,15 (Mon), and 22 (Mon)
Sponsor National Museum of Japanese History










Ise-giku (including Matsuzaka-giku)


(Rekihaku original)