Saturday, July 7, 2012

Lullaby of 合歓木 Silk Tree

Albizia julibrissin, silk tree, or 合歓木nemu-no-ki in Japanese, blooms from late June to July in my part of the world.

"Nemu-no-ki" blooms in pale crimson (淡紅色) flowers which open in the shape of the crown of a peacock.  We call them "Nemu-no-hana" in Japanese.  Nemu-no-hana has no petals but a tight cluster of 3-4 cm long stamens which look like silky threads.

One of familiar places for me to see them is Sagi-ike Pond in Nara Park.  I have introduced cherry blossom and kobushi magnolias around this pond. (Sagi-ike pond reflections with sakura and Kobushi flowers catch spring wind)

Since its blooming period overlaps the rainy season and the blooms are high on the trees, people seldom pay attention.

Nemu-no-hana has faint peach-like fragrance.  Is it wafting to you?

The flowers open at night and close by day.  I'm getting sleepy, too.

Another place abundant in Nemu-no-ki is around Ara-ike Pond along the way to Nara Hotel.

Nemu-no-ki is sung in "Nemunoki-no-Komoriuta" (Silk Tree Lullaby), the song based on the lyrics written by Empress Michiko.  The lyrics were written as a poem when she was a high school student.  It was sent to music by Masami Yamamoto in 1966, to mark the celebration for the birth of the Empress' second child, Prince Akishinomiya.  Its warm melody and words quickly became popular.

Hayley Westenra sang this song in a Japanese TV programme celebrating the Golden Wedding Anniversary of Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko, which took place on April 10, 2009.

This is it.  (The song starts at around 0:43.)

ねむの木の子守歌/Singing a Lullaby under the Silk Tree
(English translation via here.)

Around the twigs, softly shaken,
Flowed night tunes of bygone times far away
A sleepy silk tree, (a tree of) lullaby

With blooms of pale rouge
In the shade of a silk tree, little casual whispers
Were voices from dreamland
Singing ‘Go to your sleep, go to your sleep’

That silk tree in the night, in my home land
Is it still singing today
Those whisperings of those nights?
A sleepy silk tree, (a tree of) lullaby


  1. ❤✿•.¸•.¸¸
    Fotos belíssimas que transmitem toda a harmonia e esplendor da natureza!

    ♡ Bom fim de semana!

  2. こんばんわ。

  3. Hi stardust, These pretty pink flowers remind me of feathers. They look so light I can easily imagine them being blown about in the air like tiny stars or dandelion puffs. I can see them inspiring clothing designs and copied and sewn into ladies hats. They also look sweet when sleepy. :)

  4. Those flowers are so delicate and fragile looking. What great pictures, thank you for sharing these.

  5. we call them mimosa trees here.

  6. That is such a pretty and delicate flower, thank you for showing it to us and telling us about it. Your photos are lovely.

  7. How delicate and dainty. They have a strangely artificial air, as though someone has painted them on the tree :) I think they start to seem more part of the ordinary world when they fade and the silky "petals" curl and fade a little.

    Once again, I love the pictures. I do admire how you convey a feeling of harmony even in photographs of landscape. Something about the balance of the different masses and colours.

  8. acá tenemos un árbol idéntico,pero de flor amarilla,lo llaman "aromo"
    tiene un perfume único
    un beso

  9. You always teach me something new about Japan! ^^ The flowers look like tiny pink flames in the trees, especially in photos taken from a distance.

    PS: Lovely video about Empress Michiko, too. She is such an elegant, gracious woman.

  10. 今の時期、家の玄関を開けると、少し離れて公園の木立があって、その中の優しい薄紅色のかがり火が目に入ります。いつもそれを眺めて楽しんでいます。

  11. I see it pays to look up at this time of year in Nara! I love the scent of peach. I would be breathing deeply.

  12. Yoko san,
    I have this tree in front of my kitchen window, I planted it by myself, 12 years ago. It has grown tall, the crown is reaching the window know. Doing the dishes, cutting salad, mixing cake dough, I enjoy the trees delicate feathery blossoms, and also the tiny hummingbirds flattering their turquoise shiny wings in unbelievable speed, seeming to stand still in midair, and sinking their long fragile beaks deep into the flower sucking the sweetness from it! So that is maybe the difference, the blooms at my tree are open during the day.

    I love your photos and accompanying words and the poem and song are just plain beautiful!

  13. Kwiaty swoją delikatnością i kolorem mnie zachwycają. U nas nie rosną, ale widziałam je na południu Europy.Pozdrawiam.
    Flowers the color of their delicacy and delight me. We do not grow, but I saw them in southern Europe. They deserve a song about them. Yours.

  14. Lovely photos, Yoko. I fondly remember a silk/mimosa tree, in the front yard of my childhood home, that my mother planted.

  15. こんばんは。合歓の木の花とても素敵です。一昨年の暮れに、釣った魚がウィーン少年合唱団のコンサートに行きたいと言うので一緒に出かけました。 第二部に「合歓の木の子守唄」が有りました。


  16. Oh I didn't know that the nemunoki bloom such beautiful blossoms! They look like pink angels. Your photos are really magical! Thanks a lot for sharingr these!!
    薄紅の花の咲く ねむの木陰でふと聞いた 小さなささやき ねむの声 ねんね ねんね....

  17. These are so beautiful and look so delicate! What pretty color too!

    I just missed them but I am again seeing Japan through your blog and
    learning about it.

    The peachy smell is definitely wafting through my window and I am taking it all in!

    Have a wonderful week ahead, Yoko!

  18. 去年合歓の木について書かれたのもstardustさんでしたよね。可憐な花ですね。名前も素敵。以前訪れた合歓の郷にも咲いていました。昼は閉じるのですか?わたしの見たのは閉じていたのかしら。開いているのも観たいです。

  19. Thank you, Friends, for your comment. I’m sorry I don’t respond you individually here but I have visited or will visit you surely.

    minoru - アメリカ合歓木のこと教えていただきありがとうございます。あの「気になる木 ♪」もそうだったのですね。英語でMonkey pod とか Rain treeと呼ばれているようです。日本の合歓木はAlbizia julibrissin、アメリカ合歓木はAlbizia saman で、日本の合歓木の葉はしだのようで、ちがっています。

    haricot - 花は朝のうちは開いています。昼の間に徐々に閉じるようです。反対に葉は夜に徐々に閉じていくそうです。羽のような花(おしべの塊)が落ちているのを見て何かと見上げ、合歓の花とわかりました。鷺池、荒池付近にたくさんあります。

  20. These flowers are absolutely beautiful. Thanks for showing the film......lovely words!

    Have a great day Yoko,

  21. Yokoさん
    合歓の木は不思議な花を咲かせる木なのですね。大きく成長するその木の下、簾のような葉を広げる木陰でひと休みしてご紹介頂けた歌を思い出せば なんだか本当に眠くなりそうです。合歓という漢字も素敵な初夏の古都に似合う風雅な花をご紹介頂きありがとうございました。

  22. Hi Yoko

    Wow those pink flowers are wonderful.

    I have never seen anything like them.

    The water reflections are beautiful too.

    I hope that you have a great week, that the temperatures suit you,
    that you have lots of laughter and smiles and happy days.

    Take care

    x Fiona (in wet Ireland)!!!

  23. Wow wow wow! So magically serene and utterly beautiful.

  24. Dear Yoko,

    How I love this tree! The first (and the last) time I've seen it in Romania, was when I was a student. Everyday I passed by it and stood there for a few minutes, admiring its delicacy and deeply breathing its soft fragrance. I can still remember the smell, you brought it closer with this beautiful post...

    It's great how you've captured the softness of the delicate inflorescence and I'm mesmerized by the magic, out of time atmosphere in your sixth picture! I really admire you for the way you always convey your words, feelings and images creating a memorable totality, a moment of time with everything in it: colors, feelings, fragrances.
    The Empress Michiko is such a sensible soul, the poem itself is a lullaby, even without the music! She is also a very delicate and gracious lady.

    Thank you for a balmy moment, after many days of hot sun! My best of wishes and take care of yourself!

  25. Great and interesting post as always.
    Beautiful photos!
    Wonderful pink flowers.
    I've never seen them before.
    Thanks for sharing.
    Wish you a wonderful summer.

  26. Such ethereal beauty, this silk tree and its product! Such a lush landscape you present. Such a beautiful singer and beautiful song. I'm ashamed to say I've not heard of Hayley before this day. I'm also glad to say that through your blog I have now met her and broadened my cultural horizons.

    A wonderful post in every way!

  27. I have this tree in my Texas garden! How nice to see its home!
    My grandmother had one that we could climb. As a child,we would pick the flowers and tickle each other in the nose with the blooms.
    We call it the Mimosa tree. It's one of my favorites. Great photos, as always.

  28. I love this plant. It does well here in Tucson. It's popular with the wildlife. Your photos capture the beauty!

  29. Excelentes fotografias que retratam a beleza da Natureza....

  30. この間M's ドラッグと西警察間をドライブした時道路際にねむの花がきれいに咲いていたので、めずらしいなと思っていたのですが、奈良公園にはねむの木が多いのですね。

  31. Hi Yoko!

    I think I know this wonderful tree with its magnificant blossoms from the greenhouse of the botanic garden of the biological institute of Wuerzburg university. Outside a greenhouse you don't find such a botanical gem in Germany.
    Thanks for sharing these beautiful impressions!
    Take care, Uwe.

  32. All pics are so beautiful but I like flower pictures the most...

  33. These are spectacular. I love their delicacy. And your photos with the reflections encourage reflection - so peaceful.

  34. I have never seen these trees before. The flowers are so delicate and fragile, and absolutely beautiful.
    Lovely photos :)

  35. Beautiful! Looks like a powder puff, which grows on my land.

  36. Boa sexta-feira 13 com muita sorte e muitas alegrias.

  37. Hello, stardust.

      It is my joy to share your wonderful work.
      And sweet message charms my heart.

      I pray for your happiness and world peace.

    Have a good weekend. ruma ❃

  38. 薄桃色が新緑と対照的で、むしろ濃く思われます。



  39. What a beautiful tree! It blooms so interesting.

  40. Hello Yoko, but your photos are always fantastic, I loved the video especially Hayley's voice is wonderful, thanks for the video!

  41. Wow, such a beautiful plant! I've never seen it before. It has that exotic look that makes me think of other planets :) Some flowers are really other-worldly.

  42. Glorious photos, it seems I missed this post back in July, called by from your post today when I recognised the seeds. We have one of these glorious trees and it is called a Persian Acacia in English, love it, featured on my photography blog, not sure if you saw the photos though. :)


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