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It’s known as higanbana in Japanese; red spider lily in English; Lycoris radiata in Latin.

It’s also referred to as manjusaka (曼珠沙華), based on an old Chinese legend about two elves: Manju guarded the flowers and Saka the leaves, but they could never meet, because the plant never bears flowers and leaves at the same time. They were curious about each other, so they defied the gods’ instructions and arranged a meeting. The gods punished them, and separated them for all eternity.

The flower is currently in full bloom in Tokyo.


Repent, Japan! You worship trees!

This morning I had the misfortune of clicking on a link entitled “Japanese tree worshippers”. That’s what I am: I love trees, and I believe any human being who fells a centuries-old tree should suffer at the very least the amputation of an arm.

Japan has been hyper-aware of trees in the last few days, because it’s the tail-end of the cherry blossom season. Tokyo was covered in popcorn trees until a few days ago.

So I clicked. Would that I’d never done that. It’s a lunatic who thunders that the Japenese are sinners who worship trees instead of the one true god, that Japan should repent, that the one true god is a vengeful god yadda yadda yadda.

My message to the one true disciple of the one true god: while you indulge in hatred, condemnation and ignorance, I’ll go sit underneath a cherry tree and thank Japan’s 8 million gods for the beauty they’ve given us.

Perhaps I should send a tweet to @TheTweetOfGod and ask him if he’d like to join me. I suspect he might appreciate the invitation, especially if I tell him there will be champagne.