Posted on | July 7, 2010 | 1 Comment
Every year from July 9 to July 10, the popular Hoozuki Ichi (Chinese Lantern Plant Market) is held at the Sensouji Temple in Asakusa, Tokyo. The market festival dates back to the Edo era (1603–1867) when booths were first set up on the temple grounds to sell the plants. Today, as then, people dressed in summer yukata stroll through the temple grounds purchasing wind chimes and hoozuki plants. Hoozuki Ichi often coincides with the end of the dreary rainy season and the beginning of summer. July 10, the last day of the market, also coincides with Shiman Rokusen Nichi (46,000 days). It is believed that if you visit the Sensouji Temple to pray on this day, it will be the equivalent of visiting 46,000 ordinary days.
The hoozuki (also known as lampion flower, physalis, winter cherry, husk tomato, Chinese lantern plant, and “Demon’s Lantern”) is a native of southern Europe, southern Asia, and Japan. It is a perennial and a relative of the eggplant. Small, pale yellow-green flowers bloom in spring, and in summer, red seed pods shaped like tiny lanterns appear. The bright orange color brings with it good luck and makes this a favorite plant to celebrate the season. The seed pods are hollow with a small opening on one end. Blowing into the pods, a favorite pastime of children, produces a distinctive sound.