Underneath the Mistletoe

Hi blog.

No, I have not given up on Wild in Japan, I just haven’t had any noteworthy encounters as of late, I’ve been busy at work, the weather has been erratic (I’ve recently coined the term “roller coaster temperatures”), and laziness.  This will not do as WiJ celebrates its fourth anniversary, so I’m trying to overcome the inertia.

I have spotted a fruiting plant I would really like to blog about in someone’s garden, but that means getting permission to photograph it.  Time will tell

Going through some old photos, I found a couple of slightly grainy shots of mistletoe taken in January 2013 in Inariyama Park.   I remember I was going to blog about mistletoe, but I deemed the shots too grainy (trying to photograph a parasitic plant up a tall tree in strong morning light with only a phone will not get great results) and the material too lacking in interest.

OK, it’s a bit grainy, but you get the idea.

Part of the problem was that practically no-one I spoke to was even aware of mistletoe.  In Japan it simply doesn’t have the weight of collective cultural references behind it – no links to the ancient Greeks, Norse mythology, Celtic druids, witches, Christmas, Asterix comics – none of that.  I found a couple of references to traditional medicine, a some old poems, and little else.

The mistletoe variety seen locally is a subspecies of the common mistletoe (Viscum album subsp. coloratum), and usually goes by the name yadorigi (most commonly 宿木 or 寄生木, but I was able to find no fewer than six other ways of writing it in kanji!), and is also known as hoya or hoyo.

Their berries are loved by waxwings.

A cold winter morning, snow on the ground, blue skies and mistletoe on a branch. Does life get any better?

Mistletoe is, however, not loved by park management, and the offending plants had been removed when I later visited the park.

Now, to convince the local ladies that they’re supposed to kiss me if I’m standing under the mistletoe…

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