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Monday, June 27, 2011

Hana-shobu irises at the home of swordsmanship, Yagyu


Yagyu is a small village on the outskirts of Nara City.  It looks just like any other ordinary rural area, but actually it is special, the home of Yagyu Shinkage-ryu, one of the oldest Japanese schools of swordsmanship.  The place is also known for iris fields, 柳生花菖蒲園, located near the old manor house of Yagyu.



Local farmers started cultivating "hana-shobu", or Japanese water iris, utilizing their fallow paddies which have a good irrigation system. Water taken from a brook which flows down from the moutain criss-crosses in the area.  Visitors walk on ridges between iris fields while hearing comfortable rustling sound of water.  A blade of hana-shobu looks like a Japanese sword: a perfect flower for the home of swordsmanship.





Due to torrential rain the previous night, some petals got hurt, but they are still elegant and noble.



looking up at the mountains


From the top of the terraced fields, visitors have a panoramic view of 800,000 irises in 460 varieties stretching over an area of 10,000 square meters.  Flowers bloom one after another till the beginning of July.









In contrast to the gardens of temples or parks, the arrangement ot these iris fields is less refined or more natural. The place is a paradise not only for flowers like irises, hydrangeas, and water lilies, but also for small creatures like frogs, tadpoles, butterflies, bees.... and so on.

I like blades of irises as well as flowers. 

By the way, as many Japanese people know, hana-shobu and shobu are of different families despite their names.  Shobu is a relative of the yam not iris.  Their blades look alike but their flowers are different.   (See here.)  Blades of shobu are used in shobu-yu (shobu in hot water) on May 5th, Children's Day.  It is a Japanesel custom that parents put blades of shobu in the bustub filled with hot water for purification.  The powerful fragrance of shobu is believed to ward off evil spirits.  Blades of hana-shobu don't produce such a strong fragrance.

 


Finally I found a snail for the first time this season ... resting on the back of hydrangea leaf!  I'm amazed with its hanging-in-there, but perhaps being upsidedown is a piece of cake for a snail?  Many people say they have rarely seen snails these days.  Are your companies doing hide-and-seek so skillfully?

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32 comments:

  1. I looked at the Yagyu village for the first time.

    The presence of mind has the atmosphere appropriate for the hometown of the samurai.

    The outline of the lively iris reminds of the sharpness of the sword.

    Thank you.
    ruma

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  2. Such a beautiful scene to look out upon...like a Monet painting! It's a very peaceful setting, nestled between the mountains, I would enjoy walking there. Iris are a favorite flower...a few of mine are Japanese Iris from my mother-in-law's former garden, given to me years ago!

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  3. What a fascinating place! Unlike some places where flowers are cultivated in rigid symmetrical lines, I love the 'unrefined' look of this place. So interesting to read about different aspects of your beautiful country. Stunning blooms and I like the leaves too!

    Love those frogs! Cute snail there. We have the dull brown ones. Certainly not worth a picture!! BTW, love your first shot of the irises through the leaves!

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  4. beautiful place! and always beautiful photos from you!

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  5. Hi,Stardust.
    Yagyu village には何時か行って見たいと思ってた場所です。irisは地味で控えめな花だといつも感じるのですけど、アジサイ同様、雨が似合うなあと思いながら、Your photos を眺めています。1枚目の写真がTomokoのお気に入りです!では又!Have a good day.
    Redrose.

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  6. I have been there long ago to see iris. It was very muggy around there. That's because the ground is muddy, I wonder? But your flowers looks cool,and beautiful!And When leaves of iris are used Japanese-style flower arrangement, I like them,too.
    By the way I did not know that calamus and iris are different. They were calamus's leaves that are sold at a supermarket on the Boy's Festival day,weren't they?

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  7. The idea of fields of irises sounds as lovely as they look, stardust! I have not noticed such fields in my part of the world but would love to see such a thing. Interesting also that I had not thought that the flower’s sharp-tipped leaf/blade looks like a sword … although it most definitely does. I love the three little frogs sitting on a log. The upside down snail is hiding, I think. A familiar sight in my garden, I usually move it elsewhere before it takes a big bite out of the hydrangea leaf for dinner. Thanks as always for sharing your wonderful world. :)

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  8. Wow - those irises are just breathtakingly lovely! So are your photos.

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  9. I have been reading quite a lot about Nara and I would like to visit it someday.

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  10. stunning photo's and so much "purple"....you know that's my favorite.

    the mountains are beautiful, you really have a way with the camera!!

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  11. Irysy w pięknym miejscu pięknie wyglądają i jeszcze są żabki, których nie mam w swoim oczku wodnym Pozdrawiam

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  12. Indeed hana-shobu irises fit the image of samurai, standing with blades and with their back straight, giving an impression of something formal.
    Several years ago,I walked from Nara Park to Yagyu through yagyu kaido where those samurais also once used. I didn't visit the field at that time but Yagyu-no-sato sounds familiar to me.
    Thank you for beautiful pictures, stardust.

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  13. what a beautiful post. thanks for sharing.

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  14. The first photo and then the one of looking up the mountains are my favourites!There's something melancholic in the beauty of irises, something that attracts and hurts....maybe they are too beautiful, too exquisite! Even though they are surrounded, most of the time, by the colourful mopheads of hydrangeas, they still keep their distance and stay aloof. Hydrangeas can laugh, irises never do it!

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  15. I have been lived in Nara for long time, but Yagyu is a little in a distance in my mind,I don't know why. Through your photos it looks calm and has amount of natural beauty.
    I wish I'll have opportunity to visit there after I 've read your post.

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  16. What a beautiful place you live in. I love your photo's the irisses are beautiful.

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  17. It looks like about this time of the year is the best for visiting Yagyu-no-sato when irises are in bloom. I've not been there before. The Hanashonu irises are stunningly beautiful! Your photos brought me back to the Old Japan. I love the calm atmosphere the village has. One of my blogging friends once walked to Yagyu from Nara Park. Can you believe this? I saw his photos so he really went there on FOOT! Thanks so much for sharing!

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  18. What a beautiful place! There is a place in the Himalayas where purple Himalayan irises bloom. Thanks for sharing the lovely images.

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  19. Beautiful pics of the lovely iris flowers! The views are just awesome, it must have been exciting for you... The colors are magnificient, cheering the heart...
    Have a wonderful week ahead:)

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  20. Irises, frogs, a snail, and beautiful scenery...what more could a person ask for while out with a camera. Your shots are intoxicating. I love them and want to see more. Beautiful captures. Genie

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  21. Sarah, calamus (shobu) is not iris family. Yes, it is blades of calamus that are sold at a flower shop for May 5th. Muggy weather is a characteristic during the apricot rains, not because of muddy ground.

    Sapphire, yes, I believe. Actually I once walked from Nara Park to Yagyu through Yagyu-highway when I was a college student. It was pleasant to walk along the stream running through in the shade of the two mountains, seeing numerous carved stones of Buddha in the former half. The latter half was quite tough, I remember. I took a bus on my way back.

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  22. stardust, the panoramic view just looked spectacular! ^0^
    i can see your love for nature and animals.
    wonderful post for this tuesday.

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  23. Beautiful photos in texture, light and color, exquisite and bright. I like it.

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  24. These beautiful fields of irisis are so nice to look at! Thank you,dear stardust.

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  25. Recently I have never seen snail.
    It remains me about my childhood and rainy season.
    It may be Japanese heart.

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  26. You live in a beautiful place. Your photos are just lovely, and I always learn so much from your posts. Thanks for sharing.

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  27. Beautiful iris--one of my favorite flowers. What a treat to have so many blooming and for such a long time. I see you found some frogs too!!! Snails are fascinating, aren't they? Have a lovely week. Always nice to come by your blog and see the beautiful photos you have taken. Mickie :)

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  28. The iris are very beautiful to my eyes and I agree that the leaves are handsome too. 460 varieties? Wow!

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  29. This village is a paradise!!!
    So elegant, green, lovely!!!
    Your photos are wonderful!!!
    Thank you very much!
    Japan is a amazing cowntry!!!
    Many greetings and kisses

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  30. I recently hiked in the mountains of CO and saw a field of newly blooming wild iris. How I would enjoy walking through this paradise of flowers. You are lucky that your rainy season produces such lovely blooms! The little snail seems a metaphor for perseverance!

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  31. Sorry I missed commenting before your new post.The irises are really beautiful...the Japanese equivalent of tulip fields in the Netherlands!
    The wooded countryside looks lush and vibrant.

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  32. Спасибо за чудесный репортаж:-)

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