Houses of Sleep
Willow Woman
East West
Decline of Taste
Note on Yeats
Oscar Wilde
Again on Hokku
On Poetry
Again on Poetry
Morning Fancy
Ink Slab 




NO doubt your heart of real flower-lover will be quick to denounce Dangozaka of Tokyo, where the annual chrysanthemum show, the most bewildering, fantastic thing of the world, in fact, is held. It is not only Hoichi, but everybody whose mind is in an old-fashioned quiet cast will call the waxwork chrysanthemum showman of Dangozaka an inferior heart of man. However, no one who never saw it can imagine the cleverness and some sort of wonderful art of Japan that are expressed in these show-pieces. Most of the scenes of the Dangozaka puppet show are from an old play, or a page of history, or most memorable of all, the newest occurrences of the day commemorated in chrysanthemums. The central idea is to build the flower monument of the years before we enter into sleep, silence, and oblivion, and the rather cruel act of separation from flower of December and January sets in with snow and storm. Indeed, autumn is the very season for our minds to think and reflect what we did in the last nine [<88] months. The flowers which. are used for the puppet show are the real potted ones, not cut flowers, the lovely plants in full bloom, the genuine plants, the roots of which are skilfully hidden or disguised. The colour of the flowers will be combined to represent the gowns; the harmony of colours and grace of lines are indeed striking. How docile they are!  Their docility is like that of the most beautiful and sweet of women. If you hear a voice composed of sky and light, in silk, laces and jewels and curls, certainly you will see in the chrysanthemum gowns the true lyric and song of the sun, the earth, man and life, above all, of Autumn.
    Besides the puppet show, this Dangozaka, like the gardens of Counts Okuma and Sakai, is famous, too for the real chrysanthemums. Oh, what a wonder of the flower corridors! Here you see a kind which is to be compared only with fairies with magic on fingertips, the flower that stopped dancing by accident and gazes at you ready to commence again any moment. It is called the "Dethroned Angel;" but I should like to call it the "Angel Born on [<89]  the Earth." See this flower named "Amanokawa"—Milky Way—really the name itself tells. It is coloured in light purple that is woven from the silver of the mist and gentle rain ; if you see it from a proper distance, it is no other than a Milky Way almost ready to disappear and still quite distinct in its airiness. Here is a kind with the name of " Dew " or Tsuzu, whose colour is, of course, white, the creation or fashioning of frost and freeze; if you touch it, it were no wonder if it should vanish like a dream or poetry. "Haru Kasumi," or Spring Haze, reminds me of the day, or Spring with the air and wind and smoke-like amethysts, and our mind is nimble as that of a lark; the flower is grey-coloured, and its shape charmingly gay. You can see without seeing it what it might be when you are told it is "Natsu Gumo," or Summer Cloud; it is a fantasy of the cloud 'that left the mountain, the most strange wings or curls of the flower floating like bursts of light. Of course, it is "First of Japan," or Nippon Ichi, as it is the plant with more than one thousand blossoms red, white, purple and [<90] yellow, a surprise of pell-mell in flower, the most wonderful of Japan.
    For a thousand years the chrysanthemum was admired as a retired beauty by the garden fences, and under a simple methods of culture; but it became the flower of rich personages to a great measure under the Tokugawa feudal regime; and lately the culture of kiku, or chrysanthemum, is the greatest luxury. It would surprise you to know how much Counts Okuma and Sakai, these two best-known chrysanthemum raisers in Japan, have to spend yearly. It seems to me that such is a degeneration; still you cannot but appreciate and admire our advance in horticulture. When the chrysanthemum used to be called, that is of course, long ago, "Kukuri Bana," or Binding Flower, from the reason that the flowers tie or gather themselves at the top, and have the appearance of a bouquet, they were supposed to be even a sort of wild grass, perfectly unknown to a flower-lover. The honour, of the. creation of the modern wonder of chrysanthemum goes to a somewhat bigoted florist, to a somewhat frenzied horticulturist, to whom [<91] we owe, not only a chrysanthemum bed, but nearly all exquisite flower-beds, our more varied, more delicious vegetables and fruits. What a surprising advance of the chrysanthemum from being a mere weed; and what a wonder of a evolution!
    Maeterlinck says: "It is among familiar plants, the most submissive, the most docile, the most tractable and the most attentive plant of all that we meet on life's long way. It bears flowers impregnated through and through with the thoughts and will of man; flowers already human, so to speak, and, if the vegetable world is some day to reveal to us one of the worlds that we are awaiting, perhaps it will be through this flower that we shall learn the first secret of existence, even as, in another kingdom, it is probably through the dog, the almost thinking guardian of our homes, that we shall discover the mystery of animal life."
    After all, it may not be altogether ridiculous to fancy the day will come when the chrysanthemums will speak to you and me of the secret and beauty of their flower kingdom. And this ghostly world and life are really mysterious.