Brief History of The Japan Iris Society
of the Board of Directors, The Japan Iris Society
On Oct. 28th 2001,we celebrated the 70th
anniversary of the foundation of The Japan Iris Society at the Matumotoro
restaurant in Hibiya park of Tokyo,where the first big exhibits of
Japanese Iris Hanashobu were held under the sponser of the Society in 1930 and charmed
many Tokyo citizens with the beauty and elegance of flowers.
Taking this opportunity, I wish to remind
the fact that Dr George M Reed,American Iris Society came to Japan in 1930 to
investigate native sites and public gardens of various Japanese iris,especially
Hanashobu , and his visit of that time spurred the movement for Japanese
Hanashobu growers to get together and organize the society.
Reed introduced leading Hanashobu gardens all over Japan and fully explained
characters of three types as Edo,Higo and Ise , and traditional displaying
styles in the issue of American Iris Society #40 July 1931. It was the first report on Hanashobu done in English
and marked a historical contributions to research groups of Hanashobu in the
world. Ending his report, he stated that
Hanashobu is the greatest gift from Japan and hundreds of species had been
hybridized for many years and most of them could be suitably grown in American
Japanese traditional gardening plants can be
categorized into several groups.
Since the ancient ages, Japan has been closely connected to China,and therefore
many plants were transferred from there; the groups already hybridized
Peony; the groups hybridized not in China but in Japan,ie,Morning Glory;the
groups of Chinese and Japanese origin hybridized mutually,ie,Flowering
Quince,Dianthus. Further,the groups hybridized only from Japanese native
is a pure Japanese production.
In the middle of Edo dynasty,about 300 years
ago,gardeners gathered a variety of native Iris (Iris ensata)from northern part
of Japan,and repeated hybridization and made hundreds of new species. They
plantd those species in wide field near city and town attracting people coming
on picnic with the beautiful flowers in bloom.
It is said that Hanashobu field is the forerunner of the public garden
Up to the present days,the Society has
experienced good times and bad times in their effort to preserve the heritage
and to pass it on to the descendents. However,I am concerned a little about the
future of Hanashobu in Japan. The globalization in the field of gardening is
going on. Imported plants,such as, Orchid,Begonia and Helleborus are booming
and western gardening style is popular among Japanese people. On the
contrary,traditional plants are declining to the status of limited supporting
players. Regrettably,Hanashobu is in the
The good sign is that the number of public
Hanashobu gardens are increasing every year in Japan and people can easily
visit and see flowers in the season. Many local governments in the country
opened Hanashobu gardens to utilize the vacant fields suspended from rice
productioin. These gardens attract many visitors as sight- seeing spots and
offer temporary jobs to local farmers. There are probably more than 200
Hanashoubu gardens all over Japan. Such reflects a tendency that Hanashobu is now
being considered as the plant for people not to grow ,but to see.
I am very glad that The American Iris
Society is actively recommending Hanashobu to gardeners and giving advice to
grow it beautifully. To response to such admiring effort,our Society must
restore the attention of Japanese
gardeners back to Hanashobu and lead them to grow by themselves and transfer
their accumulated knowhow to foreign countries.
This is the first trial of English pages
inserted in our yearly issue. Mr Hirosi Shimizu wrote 5 essays,from which I
believe readers can get up-to-date knowledge of Hanashobu. He is a leading
hybridizer now in Japan. If there are any questions,please contact him .
(address: 3-6-21 Aihara Sagamiharashi Japan 229-1101)