Culture/History

Bamboo

01/11/2020

Special plants

Bamboo is said to have grown in Japan since ancient times and its culm reaches about 20 meters (66 feet). As bamboo grows straight towards the sky, it has been considered sacred plants. Its straight and strong culm reminds us of connection between human beings and the sky or heaven; therefore, bamboo has been used during religious events as object to which a divine spirit is drawn. It is said that the spiritual power resides in a little space between bamboo joints, which created The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter (Taketori Monogatari), a 10th-century Japanese monogatari (fictional prose narrative) containing Japanese folklore.

Bamboo’s leaves are always green even under the snow, which represents the strengths that bamboo has to survive through the cold weather. Its roots spread deep in the ground represents a long life. Because Pine, Bamboo, and Ume (Plum) can all survive through the cold winter, these three combination is supposed to bring us a good luck. The four worthies (Ume, Bamboo, Orchid, and Chrysanthemum) are also considered noble combination.

You may have a lot of opportunities to see bamboos in Japan, for example when you are at shrines, restaurants, parks, etc. Please remember that bamboos are very special plants for Japanese people.

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