The Japanese are a nature and flower-loving people

British well-known scholar of gardening, Robert Fortune who visited Japan in 1860 wrote in a book called “Edo and Beijing” as follows: “Regardless of social position, the clear characteristic of Japanese people is that they like flowers. If the love of flowers is a way to measure human intellectual standard, the lower classes in Japan seem to be superior, comparing to people of the same class in England.

British well-known scholar of gardening, Robert Fortune who visited Japan in 1860 wrote in a book called “Edo and Beijing” as follows: “Regardless of social position, the clear characteristic of Japanese people is that they like flowers. If the love of flowers is a way to measure human intellectual standard, the lower classes in Japan seem to be superior, comparing to people of the same class in England.

A worldwide well-known German botanist, Hans Molisch was invited by the Japanese government in 1922 to work for the Northeastern Imperial University. He published a book, where he explained the reason why Japanese have a true heart for nature and flowers: “A plant is an existence that has a soul for the Japanese, and it is important for them that it should be loved in the same way as a human being,”

Concerning the Japanese way of watching plants compared to that of a westerner, Molisch discussed as follows, “In this country, there is still the same way of thinking that ancient Greek people had. The people of the ancient Greece thought that trees had souls and hamadryads lived there. And as for ancient Teutons, they had the same feeling that something noble, something like a soul dwelled in trees. But such simple thinking has been totally abandoned today in the West. However, such a way of thinking is still there among the people in Japan up to today.”

Molisch thought that the reason why the Japanese loved flowers was connected with their outlook on Japanese nature. They believe that God dwells in the mountains, rivers, all the trees and plants. And he wrote “In this country, where I am, the close friendship between nature and human beings, specially plants is shown to us everywhere. A lot of streets in Tokyo are named after plants and many girls have flower names. The chrysanthemum has become the crest of the Imperial family.”

In addition, he paid attention to the difference between Japanese and Westerners when they name plants. In both Western countries and Japan, each plant has a special name. “A person’s name is often used in the West, and in France in particular, they have the custom to use names of famous persons for new flowers. However Japanese don’t have that kind of feelings for such a way of naming,” said Molisch.  He wrote as follows. “In Japan they demand support from nature and take names out of the natural world and abstract names, too. For example, ‘benishio’ , ‘Lotus flower’, ‘kinka mountain’, ‘Milky Way’, ‘virtue of emperor’ etc..

Furthermore, Molisch showed interest for “flower arrangement”. The flower arrangement is performed according to a unique view of the world, a philosophy principle, an aesthetic model. “The Japanese flower arrangement can not be compared to the European way of arranging bouquets, I think, because flower arrangement is an art really full of originality, and Westerners do not have the terms which can express this precisely. Neither ‘the bouquet’ nor ‘the flower basket’ or ‘a bunch of flowers’ is suitable. The artists of the flower arrangement, so to speak, have a communication with the flowers they use and they must be devoted in their souls. It is not only the flower itself that Japanese people love. For them, all from the stem and the leaf, the branch of the flower, the moss and the mushroom which sticks to branches and leaves have important value in them. Japanese make use of all of the flowers, the blooming tree and branches for art. Therefore you must not think the Japanese flower arrangement, is just for flowers. The branch without a flower is also flower arrangement.