Baika Utsugi (Philadelphus satsumi)

Japanese flower|Beautiful Japanese culture!| Unohana (Deutzia crenata)


Do you know about Japanese flowers? Unohana (Deutzia crenata) is another name for Utsugi, which is a flowering shrub in the hydrangea family which is native to Japan. 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!

Unohana (Deutzia crenata)

The arrival of summer

In late May, I found pretty white flowers blooming in the garden of an acquaintance’s house. When I asked its name, they told me that it was Unohana (Deutzia crenata). Later, I learned that the flowering tree was Baika Utsugi (Philadelphus satsumi).

The botanical name for Unohana is Utsugi. The name “Utsugi” means “empty tree” and derives from the fact that the trunk is hollow. Another name for Utsugi of the genus Utsugi is Unonohana, which stands for “Utsuginohana.” There are many other trees named Utsugi in different genera and families. The 00Utsugi, which produces similar white flowers around May or June, is often called Unohana.

The name “Uzuki” was given to the lunar calendar month of April (which now falls around early May to early June) because this is the season when the flowers of the Unohana blossom. Additionally, the way the small flowers of the Unohana form together resembles Okara (soy pulp), which is why Okara is also called Unohana.

The word “Unohana” reminds me of the Song “Natsu wa kinu” (Summer is coming). It is a famous song created in the Meiji era. The first lyrics of the song convey the meaning, “I can smell the flowers of the Unohana in the hedge, and the Hototogisu (little cuckoo) has already arrived. I heard its voice for the first time this year―summer is coming.”

Every year at this time, I hear the chirping of the Hototogisu, “Tokkyokyokakyokku.” Just hearing the chirping of the Hototogisu makes me feel the early summer. However, in addition to that, seeing the beautiful flowers of the Unohana made me feel the arrival of summer, just as the song suggests.






ウノハナと言えば、唱歌『夏は来ぬ』を思い出します。明治時代につくられた名曲です。一番の歌詞は次の通りです。「卯の花(うのはな)の匂う垣根(かきね)に 時鳥(ほととぎす)早(はや)も来(き)鳴きて 忍音(しのびね)もらす 夏は来(き)ぬ」。「ウツギの花の匂いがしてくる垣根に、ホトトギスが早くも来ていて、今年初めての声を聴いた、夏が来たなあ」そんな意味でしょうか。