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Chinese woodblock print of orchids (postcard)

Hanakotoba is the language of flowers: emotions or messages are communicated through the symbolism of flowers. Since it turned summer on June 21st, I figured I’d tell you about the meaning of orchids.

Mahjong Guardian Stone Summer OrchidAs a mah jongg-player I thought it was THE flower of the season, orchid being the Summer Guardian Stone. But having looked into Japanese flower symbolism, I seem to be wrong! Yeah well, mah jongg is originally Chinese, so.. :) Never mind. As the game is being played in Japan as well, this post is still relevant as my submission for June’s Hello Japan! mini challenge about Flowers & Japanese Gardens. ;)

Mahjongg Card Summer OrchidStarting of with a haiku by Yosa Buson (1716 ~ 1783), translated by R.H. Blythe.

An evening orchid,
Hidden in its scent,
The flower’s whiteness
yoru no ran
ka ni kakurete ya
hana shiroshi

The orchid represents refinement. It is no common plant and it’s pleasures are reserved for the privileged few, so it is also a symbol of the rare and precious. The essence of refinement is an continual process of improvement until absolute perfection is reached.

In the art of fortune telling with mah jongg cards or stones, the Orchid Guardian protects young girls. If it appears in response to a question about a daughter or a younger female relative, it serves to allay any anxieties regarding their welfare.

I have a white orchid at home. It was a birthday gift from my aunt several years ago. White seems appropriate for a flower like this, since it indicates purity and cleanliness in traditional Japanese society, and is seen as a blessed colour because of its sacred nature: it’s the colour of the gods and therefore free of all ‘contamination’. But what is maybe best — if you’re into Zodiac signs that is (which I’m really not) — the white orchid belongs to my sign of Pisces.

White orchids

I’ll leave you with the Japanese version of a beautiful song about flowers by Einstürtzende Neubauten: Blume, sung by Etsuko Sakamaki-Haas. I invite you to listen to the English translation afterwards.

Hello Japan! is a monthly mini-challenge focusing on Japanese literature and culture. Each month there is a new task which relates to some aspect of life in Japan. June’s mission is ‘Flowers and Japanese Gardens’.

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I always enjoy reading Sandy’s Monday Movie Memes on You’ve GOTTA read this! Last week I came close to joining in the fun (on a Sports topic, no less :-o) and today I really couldn’t resist. We’re talking MONSTER MOVIES! Or is it movie monsters? ;)

Well, meet some of my memorable favourites. Monsters, I mean.

The Plant in The Little Shop of Horrors (1986)
Cute sapling turns into a man-eating monster demanding to be fed. Hold on to your critters and loved ones!

Louis de Pointe du Lac & vampire Lestat in Interview with the Vampire (1994)
One evil spirit to feel sorry for and another to avoid no matter what. The first time I noticed Brad Pitt is actually good at acting ;) And Tom Cruise only needed to dye his hair to look crrrrrreepy ;)

King Kong in King Kong (1933, 1976, 2005)
Gotta love ‘m, don’t you? Just one big scared animal. Not scary. Okay, he made a bit of a mess, but don’t we all sometimes?

Edward Scissorhands in Edward Scissorhands (1990)
Could Johnny Depp ever look frightening? Noooooooooo. Beware of those claws though!

Gollum in The Lord of the Rings (2001-2003)
Okay, he doesn’t really count — I only saw a short piece of one of the movies of The Fellowship of the Ring. But I saw HIM and I loved Gollum in Tolkien’s book trilogy — he is uncanny and oh so sad.

De Plaaggeest (The Bully) in Bassie & Adriaan (1978)
As a child I was really scared of a prankster looking like a joker in a well-known television series about a clown and an acrobat, Bassie & Adriaan. And I mean HORRIFIED. It was just an obviously dressed up guy but hey, I couldn’t sleep!

The Monday Movie Meme is hosted by The Bumbles.

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