Summer

Asagao Market – a 3 Days Festival to Appreciate the Morning Glory

Onomatopoeia

Writer

Have you ever grown flowers in science classes at school? In Japanese primary schools, pupils in different grades grow different flowers like morning glories, marigolds, hyacinths, cosmos, peonies. Morning glories are the first kind of flowers that kids in the first grade learn how to take care of in their school science research projects because they are easy even for small children to grow. This way, the morning glory becomes one of the most familiar kinds of plants to Japanese people from childhood.

The Iriya Morning Glory Market Story

In 1866, Hiroshige II, a woodblock “浮世絵 (ukiyo-e)” printing art designer in the late Edo period, produced a work called “Morning Glories in Iriya” as part of his “Thirty-six Selected Flower Scenes.” At that time when the ukiyo-e work was released, the Iriya area, now in the eastern part of Asakusa, Tokyo, was bustling with people engaged in a floral business like the cultivation of morning glories. Since then, the image of the Iriya area as the “town of morning glories” has taken root in people across Tokyo.

There are some different stories about the origin of the morning glories market in Iriya. According to one account, some local growers started to show their cultivation skills of the flowers in the middle of the Meiji period (1868-1912) within the precincts of Shingen-ji Temple. This temple has been enshrining “鬼子母神 (Kishi-bojin)”, the goddess revered in Japanese Buddhist tradition. Kishi-bojin is respected for the protection of children, safe delivery and happy child rearing while believed to inflict severe sufferings on irresponsible parents and unruly children.

While the massive redevelopment project around the Iriya area, skilled growers of morning glory moved out of town. In 1912, the decreased number of morning glory gardens made it difficult to hold the Market at last. The floral business almost died out at one time in the Taisho period (1912-1926). After World War II, however, groups of local volunteers and the municipal office pulled together to revive the Market.

The Market Now

The Iriya Morning Glory Market goes on for three days from July 6th to 8th every year. About 120,000 pots of morning glories with various colors and sizes are sold at nearly 60 temporary flower booths lining the Koto-toi Street near Shingenji Temple, where the local summer festival is held on the same days of the week. So, the Market together with the festival attracts about 400,000 visitors from everywhere. This traditional flower event heralds the coming of hot summer for many Tokyoites from “下町(shita-machi)” downtown in and around the Asakusa area.

So Many Flowers

You can feast your eyes on many kinds of morning glories with various hues of colors. One of the popular types is called “行灯づくり(andon-zukuri)”: a type of pot whose shape resembles a Japanese wooden lantern “Andon”. Among other “Asagao” types are Yohaku (morning glory with white lines), Kikyosaki (bellflower-type morning glory) and Seiyo (European type morning glory).

Almost every pot you pick basically costs you ¥2,000. You might be thinking of buying a pot and sending it back home (even overseas). Inside Japan, of course, it is possible to have the potted flowers you buy home delivered. Behind the flower booths are some staff members from Kuroneko Yamato, Japan’s largest delivery service operator. If you want to send overseas they will help you arrange your purchases and send to your doorstep. You need to get the permission from Plant Protection Station of the country you want send them to.

Commemorative Souvenirs

Even if there aren’t any types of potted morning glories on display that captivate you, I recommend a ¥400 package of commemorative paper fan and postcard, which I think will be a good choice as nice souvenir. The packages are available at Shingen-ji Temple. At the temple, special “Asagao” lucky charms are also available at ¥500 each for small size, and at ¥900 for a large one.

Access

Singen-ji is a 5-minute walk away from Uguisudani Station, next to Ueno Terminal on the JR Yamanote and Keihin-Tohoku Lines. Iriya Station, on the Tokyo Metro Hibiya (silver) Line, is convenient as well. The temple is a 3-minute walk from the station.

Closing Remarks

The flower shops open from 6:00 to 23:00 during the event period, but the street is closed from 17:00 to 21:30 on weekdays and from 11:00 to 21:30 on weekends so that pedestrians can have enough space to walk through. To be honest, I don’t think it’s enough. I wish they could extend the street closing time for visitors. This is a great place and event to grab your Yukata and feel yourself a real Tokyoite.

An Ultimate Idea Source for Your Tokyo Stay!

Most of the travelers who come to Japan enter the country through Tokyo. Even if it is not the main place of your destination, it would be a great idea to stay in the capital city for a few days. The biggest conglomerate in the world has much to offer to any kind of traveler. Whether you want to go sightseeing, shopping, eating out, or trying something special that you can experience only in Japan, Tokyo has it all. In the following article, you will find 100 things and many ideas on how to spend your time in Tokyo! Please, have a look, URL: https://festivalgo.huber-japan.com/events/7726/ 

Would You Like to Know How to Enjoy a Japanese Festival Even More?

A lot of people when they get to a Matsuri for the first time feel a bit lost. They confuse about what is happening around. If you are new to Japanese Festivals or want to know an alternative way of how you can enjoy these events, the following article will provide you with a set of helpful tips on how to choose a proper festival and activities you should try there. Please don`t hesitate to take a look at it!

URL: https://festivalgo.huber-japan.com/events/5363/

Don’t Stay Hungry at the Festival!

Image courtesy of Tomomarusan

The food presented during Matsuri is pretty different from the one you get at the restaurants in Japan. Besides, there is a certain charm in grabbing some snack from a food stall and diving back into the festival crowd. I am sure that you will discover something new about Japanese festival food from the following article!

URL: https://festivalgo.huber-japan.com/events/5504/

Onomatopoeia

Have two kids. Teach English at an “eikaiwa” school more than a decade Love cake.

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