Japanese festivals|Beautiful Japanese culture!|Mount Miwa #10‐The Oldest Lily Festival in Japan.

三輪山シリーズ#10 「日本最古のゆり祭り」

Do you know about Japanese festivals? Japan’s oldest lily festival has been held at Isagawa shrine in Nara Prefecture. At 4T-AMKY, Teachers and Students write about Japanese culture, food, history, many spots to visit, and other stuff. Enjoy reading and knowing about deeper Japanese culture!

Mount Miwa#10 ‐The Oldest Lily Festival in Japan.

Lilies in Japan

Lilies, known as “yuri” in Japanese, begin to bloom in June and can be enjoyed until August, depending on the variety. They have renowned locations throughout Japan, and lily festivals are held in various regions.

Lilies in Ibaraki city in August.
Lilies in Ibaraki Prefecture.

Mr. Yukio Nemoto, from whom I’ve been learning Kampo medicine (Japanese traditional herbal medicine), also serves as the head of the Tokyo Branch of Ōmiwa Shrine and possesses profound knowledge of Japanese culture. I had the pleasure of hearing an intriguing story about lilies from him.

Japan’s oldest lily festival

In the auxiliary shrine of Ōmiwa Shrine, one of our country’s oldest shrines, Isagawa Shrine in Nara hosts Japan’s oldest lily festival. This festival is officially known as the ‘Saikusa Festival.’ ‘Saikusa’ refers to the Japanese native lily called ‘sasayuri,’ named for the fact that its branches typically divide into three. It is said to take seven years from a seed to become a flower.

Lilies in Omiwa shrine in Nara prefecture.
Lilies in Omiwa shrine in Nara prefecture.


According to the “Nihon Shoki (Chronicles of Japan)” (completed in 720), the festival’s origin can be traced back to when Emperor Jinmu entered Yamato Province and encountered seven maidens carrying sasayuri by the Sai River. He fell in love with a maiden named Himetataraisuzu-hime, who was leading the group, and married her. Therefore, the festival has an extremely ancient origin and is also specified in the Taihō Code (established in 701) as a national festival that must always be held to ward off pestilence.

From the magazine Omiwa, the 142 number published by Omiwa shrine.
Kampo medicine

Yuri is also used in Kampo medicine to treat diseases with fevers accompanied by mental distress. The name “yuri (百合 in chinese character),” which literally means “a hundred combinations” in Kampo medicine, is said to have been derived from its use for obscure and complex illnesses that seem to combine hundreds of different maladies. In any case, lilies are not only visually stunning, but also possess significant medicinal value when consumed.











Aki Sawaguchi.


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