Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Wishing you all the best of fortune throughout 2012!

This is “Manryo”,  Ardisia crenata Sims, or coral berry.   Manryo is an upright shrub with a single stem with green leaves on top and red berries hanging down on stalk in autumn and winter.  The plant is slim and short and the berries look like coral jewelry pendant or beads under the green umbrella of leaves.  Aren't they lovely?   

by the pond

Japanese word “man” means “ten thousand” and “ryo” was the former Japanese currency unit before yen.  Manryo was called so in Japan because of the great numbers of berries it bears.  Ten-thousand-ryo must have been a huge amount of money for the people of that period.  Regardless of the Japanese name, Manryo could be considered as a lucky plant because of its red berries lasting quite a long time and evergreen leaves which symbolize longevity and prosperity. 

 New Year flower arrangement with "Senryo" at my home

There is “Senryo” with the word “sen” meaning “one thousand”.    Senryo berries face upward, while Manryo berries hang down on stalks.

Manryo must be taken care well for control as it is highly invasive.  In authentic Japanese Gardens, every tree is clipped, pruned, or tweaked so that nature creates particular colors and patterns to conform to a particular vision.  Japanese gardens look so natural but actually are well designed and planned comprehensively so that they look natural in the cycle of life of coming and going.  Invasive plants like Manryo are no problem at all in the Japanese gardens if only aesthetically approved. 

Nandina in my garden protecting "demon's gate"

"Nanten", or Nandina, is also frequently used on auspicious occasions.  We often add leafy stems adorned with brilliant berries beside New Year dishes.  Nandina is believed to bring good fortune if planted near the doorway or at the “demon’s gate”, unlucky direction facing northeast.

Aizu lacquer place mat with Nandina design for festive occasions
Nabeshima celadon plate and cup for Japanese sake

In stark contrast to the winter bleakness and snow, these plants show eye-catching sprays of bright red berries and evergreen leaves.   The plants keep their berries for quite a long time even in the snow.

not my image but from the website

A red berry
Spilled on the white frost
Of the garden


Masaoka Shiki (1866-1902)

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  1. So many lovely shrubs need to be contained because of their propensity to spread. The bright red berries are so cheerful in a winter landscape. Do birds feed on them?
    Why is the north east gate the devil's gate is it because the cold weather comes from there or is there some other reason.

    I hope you have a wonderful year this year with many wonderful things coming your way.

  2. It's so wonderful to learn about your country through your posts. These manryo shrubs with their berries look most exotic! I also like the floral arrangement with senryo. The reflection photos are beautiful! Wishing you the very best for 2012!

  3. What a beautiful plant, and it's one I haven't seen here. I wonder if it would be invasive in English gardens too. Sometimes we struggle to keep alive plants which are rampant in their own countries.

    Could Senryo possibly be related to holly? I would have almost thought your arrangement was made with holly.

    It has similar charm to me (Holly) but somehow the attitude to plants and flowers is so much more refined in Japan than it is here.

    Happy new year to you!

  4. stardustさん、あけましておめでとうございます。




  5. The naming "Manryo" and "Senryo" are interesting for me, too. My arrangement of new year flowers is simpler, though I also used " Senryo" as a material.
    Very lovely post!

  6. The red and green of the Manryo and Nandina must be a lovely sight against the white of snow. We just had our first snowfall of the winter. Your Nabeshima celadon plate and cup are lovely, Yoko, such a delicate green!

  7. Such pretty shrubs... I loved manryo more than senryo!! Beautiful red colored berries. And they were also used as currencies, so that shows how much value it had in the days gone by...
    A lovely post.
    Wish you and your family a Happy and Joyful New Year Yoko:)

  8. Wishing your happiness in 2012.
    You have great garden and flowers in your house. They must bring you excellent. Thank you for your continued help.

  9. Hi,Stardust.
    明けましておめでとうございます。お元気そうですね。今年最初のポスト、日本的な美しいポストですね!私の方昨日息子達が帰り、ようやく今日からComputer の前に座れます。長い間ベビーシッターと料理作りに明け暮れました。今年もどうぞよろしく!

  10. Hello, Yoko!
    Wish you and your family a very happy and prosperous new year 2012!

    What a beautiful shrubs! It's so wonderful landscape.

  11. So lovely to see the different guises of those berries, from outdoors to indoors to fantasy.

  12. My deerest friend Yoko,
    Happy New Year, with all the best for your family!
    Wonderful photos of this beautiful flower "Nandina"!!!
    Many greetings and kisses

  13. these are gorgeous! thank you for the education on the different berries. i really, really like the manryo! :)

  14. Such a beauty! I love the photos and I love the haiku!

  15. I really like your blog. Wonderful photographs, beautiful harmonizing color selection at the photos and interesting information. It's curious to your country and I am impressed by the beauty you lapses.
    Ardisia crenata is mentioned in Bencao Gangmu, where she is described as a remedy for sore throats. It is also called spice berry although they are slightly poisonous. They are used medically in Japan?


    I hope that the Google translations are readable.



  16. Help! Back translated into German, the words do not fit the meaning. It should be "unique" name, not "curious". I hope it does not lead to confusion.






  17. Jak otworzyłam Twoją stronkę i zobaczyłam pierwsze zdjęcie, to aż mnie "zatkało", taka piękna roślina. Zdjęcia też śliczne jej zrobiłaś. Pozdrawiam.

  18. Beautiful plants, I'm sure they would be part of our Christmas decorations if they grew here. Interestingly the North doors of our village churches are thought to be unlucky and were usually kept shut, they were only opened to allow demons to be driven out of the building.

  19. I love to learn about the different plants that grow in Japan. The red berries must look quite striking against white snow. The birds must enjoy having them to eat on a wintry day.

  20. Thank you, everyone, for the nice and interesting comment.

    Arija - Birds like Nandina berries. On the other hand, seeing from the fact that Manryo berries stay long in winter, I don’t think birds are fond of them.

    The northeast quarter was once termed “kimon (demon gate)”, and was considered an unlucky direction through which evil spirits passed. The concept of “Kimon” is from China. According to it, northeast and southwest are the quarters where contrary forces, Ying and Yang, meet, therefore “ki”, energy of heaven and earth, is disrupted there and evil spirits gather easily. In floor planning, some people avoid entrance and bathroom in that direction, while some are not so superstitious.

    I’m afraid I don’t know exactly why and I think there also would be practical reasons behind it as you wrote.

    Jenny – Manryo would be invasive once they take roots and if the weather is right for them in Britain. Yes, Holly does look like Senryo, or Chloranthaceae, but they are not of the same family. I can’t tell apart them well but leaves of Holly look more spiny. Plants with red berries and evergreen leaves are nice for winter festive occasion.

    John – Thank you for the interesting information about the North as an unlucky direction in Britain. In ancient China and Japan, on the contrary, the North was believed as the holy direction which God, Buddha, and even Emperor belonged to because the Polar Star was considered to be the center of the universe without a move. “Kimon” is not the north but the northeast.

    Carola - Nandina is called “Nanten” in Japanese. As you wrote, we have medicinal drops called “Nanten cough drop” to heal sore throat. The toxicity is used for antiseptic effect, the leaf is often arranged on the steamed rice with red beans, raw fish, etc..

    Thank you for taking time to translate into two languages. I know translator is mostly helpful but can’t translate perfectly. I think German-English translation is so so okay, but German-Japanese translation is terrible. Japanese language must be too difficult for the machine to translate.

  21. This is really a great post. Beautiful work. Thanks for sharing.

  22. Beautiful, absolutely stunningly beautiful.
    I can't grow coral berries because I don't have acid soil but I grow Nandinas; in a hard winter they die back but if I'm lucky, they shoot again from the roots in spring.

    I wish I knew how to prune my trees the Japanese way, I try to shape them but I never manage properly.
    Can my Japanese maples be pruned? And when is the best time?

  23. ¡¡Esto es un haiku y lo demás son sucedáneos!!
    maravilloso, me hubiese gustado mucho ver lo que miró Masaoka Shiki... Gracias y besos...

  24. Happy New Year Yoko!
    I love the idea of an invasion of good luck,prosperity,money and beauty! The little painting is simple and lovely.

    All best wishes,

  25. Ruby - Your comment is so sharp! I’d like to spread “Manryo” worldwide.

    Friko - I don’t know how to prune the trees in proper Japanese way. Japanese Gardens are taken care by apprenticed gardeners, by the techniques that have been handed down. Though I haven’t pruned my Japanese maple on my own, I think you can do it. Pros prune so that the branches stretch rather horizontally. I hear best time is late summer to early autumn. Good luck with your maples and nandinas.

  26. Stardusk, beatiful pictures again. I love those bright splashes of colour this time of year too.

  27. お慶びの新年を迎えられた事と存知ます。

  28. Yoko, Red is my favorite color - to see it in Nature is a great treat. I love the mossy bank in that last photo.

  29. Wow, every little plant seems to be interesting thanks to your blog :)

    Once again, I wish you a very happy new year (^.^)

  30. Hi Yoko :) Thank you for your nice comment at my blog, and for following.
    I am so happy to meet you :) Love your blog! The photos are amazing. Japan truly is a beautiful country.

    I have not seen the manyro shrub before, but I like it. It is highly decorative with the red berries.

    Happy new year! Wishing you all the best in 2012 :)

  31. Very interesting blog, greetings from italy

  32. Happy New Year!
    I also decorated senryo for new year. By the way I saw jyuuryo on a paper. There is hyakuryo,I wonder.

  33. Yes … the leaves on this pretty plant (although invasive) remind me of an umbrella, too, stardust. And the berries make me think of clusters of holly. Your New Year’s arrangement is sensitively arranged and lovely to look at reminding me of all the posts that came before in 2011. What a wonderful start to a new year! I think I can safely say there are NO demons at your gate. :)

  34. We have many Nandina shrubs in our Japanese. Indeed we use chopsticks often and have a Janpenese garden, of sorts. My husband and I have a great love of gardening and have a Koi pond with stepping stones that remind us of the ones in the Heian Shrine in Kyoto. We only have 4 stepping stones though! My daughter taught English in Japan (with Aeon) in 2004. She lived in Komaki outside of Nagoya. We visited Japan in May of 2004. We even stayed in your hometown at ryokan KanKaso. I could go on but I fear this is too long already. So very nice to meet you.

  35. Another fascinating post and again, I learned a lot. You live in a gorgeous area! I think Japanese culture has a lot to teach the rest of the world about beauty without and within!

    Your photos, by the way, are well composed and exposed and very sharp!

    My favorites are "By the pond," and the one with the rocks and water.

    A very happy New Year to you!

  36. Hi Yoko
    I am familiar with ardisia but it looks so good in your pictures in these beautiful settings. I am pouring over gardening books currently making plans for a future house and listing the trees and shrubs I would like to plant.

    Red berries are great in gardens and good to take indoors for brightening up the winter.

    Happy New Year Yoko
    Hugs for Fu-u

  37. What gorgeous shots of these lovely berries.

  38. Thank you again, Friends and new Friends, for such nice and interesting comments. I'm sorry I don't respond individually here, though I surely visit your blog as always.

    Sarah – There are not only “manryo” and “senryo” but also “hyakuryo” and “jyuryo”, all the name related to money. And besides there is “kuroganemochi”.

  39. Wonderful plants, with the red fruit. Wich you a great 2012.

  40. It's such a pretty berry. Too bad it's also invasive.

  41. Interesting post and blog...

  42. Gorgeous amongst the green foliage.


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