Yep, it’s a bonsai chrysanthemum. I saw this prize specimen at the Yasukuni Shrine last weekend. It’s the wickedly competitive chrysanthemum exhibiting season in Japan right now, and shrines all over Tokyo have erected little huts filled with obsessively nurtured flowers. Not only do the un-bonsaied varieties have to be perfectly symmetrical, with their blooms and leaves blemish-free, there have to be THREE perfect plants per pot, they all have to be the same height, and they all have to bloom at exactly the same time. Somewhere there must be volumes of arcana dealing with how to achieve this, because there are so many perfect entries to these competitions every November.
Nearly every big shrine (and some temples) host chrysanthemum competitions in the month of November. If you’d like to see the chrysanthemums the next time you’re in Tokyo, directions and maps to the Yushima Tenjin Shrine, Kameido Shrine, Meiji Shrine, Yasukuni Shrine, Shinjuku Gyouen Garden and Senso-ji Temple are on my website, The Tokyo Guide I Wish I’d Had.
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Writing mystery books set in Tokyo is mostly what I do, but I also blog about the odd stuff I see every day in Japan. I'm a graduate of Stanford University and the Sendagaya Japanese Institute in Tokyo, and a member of the International Thriller Writers, the Mystery Writers of America, and Sisters In Crime. When I'm not in Tokyo, I live in San Francisco. I also host a travel site called The Tokyo Guide I Wish I'd Had, so if you're headed to Japan and want to check out the places I take my friends when they're in town, take a look!