Cherry Blossom Forecast 2023 version only) (Japanese version only)  

when and where to see cherry blossoms (Japanese version only):

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Kakitsubata (Rabbit-Ear Iris)

Kakitsubata(燕子花、杜若:Iris laevigata or Rabbit-Ear Iris):

It grows in shallow waters or marshy places and blooms in mid-to-late May. Its petals are partly white. Kakitsubata, ayame and hanasyoubu are confusingly similar in appearance.

Ayame(菖蒲、文目、綾目:Siberian iris or Iris sanguinea) blooms from Early May to Mid-June, prefers dry land and has partly-netted petals.
Hanasyoubu(花菖蒲:Iris ensata var. ensata) blooms from early June to late June, prefers wet land and its petals are partly yellow.

photos :
デジカメ動画フリー素材 (Japanese version only)   

The exhibition "The National Treasure Irises Screens and Rimpa Paintings" is being held at the Nezu Museum(根津美術館) in Minami-Aoyama, Tokyo from April 24th to May 23rd. The highlight is the national treasure "Kakitsubata-zu-Byoubu(燕子花図屏風), which is a pair of gold-ground six-panel screens by Ogata Kourin(尾形 光琳,1658-1716).
The screens depict the scene of the 9th chapter of "The Tales of Ise".

The hero, Ariwara no Narihira(在原業平) made the following poem about kakitsubata in the tales.

"I left behind my wife in the city of Kyoto, and now have come a long way.
Like comfortable clothes, we have come to be comfortable with one another.
The feeling of loneliness come home to me."

KA-ra-go-ro-mo (からごろも)
KI-tsu-tsu-na-re-ni-shi (きつつなれにし)
TSU-ma-shi-a-re-ba (つましあれば)
HA-ru-ba-ru-ki-nu-ru (はるばるきぬる)
TA-bi-wo-shi-zo-o-mo-u (たびをしぞおもう)

This poem includes "KA-KI-TSU-HA(BA)-TA" that is a word of five syllables.

The rabbit-ear irises in the museum's garden are being out of season.

かきつばた袋 デザイン:藤本正子
"drawstring pouch in the shape of rabbit-ear iris" designed by Masako Fujimoto

Shigeyoshi Inoue(ed.),Shiki-wo-Irodoru-chirimenzaiku(Tokyo:ONdori Sha,2000),P.13


  1. Thank you for this information about the iris. I am working at this flower, inventing how to make it in miniature. This pouch is gorgeous!
    Greetings, Ilona

  2. This Rabbit Era Iris is found in the marshy land of Manipur Valley at Lamphelpat, Imphal ( Altitude: 750m AMSL) , but is slowly on the way to extinction here, as the marshy lands are being filled up for housing etc. It is called "Kombirei" in Manipuri language. As the Japanese Army had reached Imphal, Manipur, during WW-II, the Ambassador of Japan in India had recently remarked whether there is a mysterious link between Japan and Manipur through the Kakitsubata flower, which has a white line on the bluish petal. We also have Iris Wattii growing in the Shiroi hills, Ukhrul District of Manipur at Altitude of 2000-2500 m AMSL.
    Uttam Laisram, email :

    1. Thank you for your comment, and I'm sorry for my late reply. I didn't know rabbit-ear irises bloom in Imphal! Iris japonica called Shaga is resemblant to Iris wattii. Recently I learned there is a similarity between Iris japonica and Iris wattii. Hanashobu(Iris ensata var. ensata) are still blooming in Japan. We can see them in many flower and iris gardens.
      This year's peak bloom occurred later than usual.