How to enjoy the “Chrysanthemum Festival” on September 9th

It is one of five festivals in Japan. September 9th is also called Choyo-no-sekku or Kiku-no-sekku, because the chrysanthemum, or ‘kiku’ is the seasonal flower on the old Chinese calendar.

2017-04-21   Culture, Seasonal,


A calendar

It is said that the largest combination of odd numbers brings fortune.

Since ancient times, odd numbers are thought to be lucky in Japan and China. On a date when odd numbers are repeated, it is thought to bring luck. It is also thought of as bad luck, so people celebrate the day, and at the same time, drive evil spirits out. The number ‘9’ is the largest odd number between 1 and 10. September 9th is a real lucky day because it has the largest odd number in it’s date. It means “duplicating yang” (positive), called “Choyo-no-sekku”, so the day was designated as a day to celebrate longevity and prosperity.


It is also called “Kiku-no-sekku”.

“Choyo-no-sekku”is also called “Kiku-no-sekku”, literally meaning “chrysanthemum festival”. The chrysanthemum is designated as the national flower of Japan and is a common pattern used for kimono. The chrysanthemum has been used as medicine in Japan since ancient times and it is believed that it has the power of longevity. There is even a myth of a child who lived for over 700 years, thanks to it’s spiritual power.
The chrysanthemum festival is derived from China.
The noblemen of ancient Japan used to enjoy gazing at rare chrysanthemums from China and making wishes for their longevity. During the Edo period, this custom had become popular among the masses. It is still customary today and I’ll tell you how to do it!


decorating potpourri

How to make a wish for longevity and drive evil out.

To begin with, you need to prepare cotton and a chrysanthemum. Before the night of the chrysanthemum festival, blanket the cotton over the chrysanthemum. According to the myth, if you wipe your body with the cotton containing the scent and dewdrops from the chrysanthemum, you will live longer. It sounds so easy!
The reason why you need to blanket the chrysanthemum is to derive the essence of spiritual power from the chrysanthemum. Officially, you need to use red, white, and yellow cotton, but you can also just use white.
There are other ways to drive out evil with chrysanthemums. ‘kiku-yu,’ is a chrysanthemum bath and sleeping with a ‘kiku’ pillow, are two ways to absorb its scent. Displaying chrysanthemums or setting up potpourri beside your pillow is also good. During this season, there are several kiku-related festivals held in Japan including the kiku matsuri and the kiku dolls exhibition.

The chestnut rice

Taste kiku with other autumn food!

We have special food to eat at Choyo-no-sekku. We drink “kuku-zake”, with a floating petal of kiku. We usually eat chestnut rice and eggplants. It is said to be healthy if you eat eggplants during this season, so you can prevent fever-like symptoms. Take in the spiritual power of kiku by eating it in a variety of ways; ohitashi, osuimono, and in a salad! You can also find some kiku sweets in Japan during this time. It might be good to enjoy these things with nice kiku patterned ceramics.

edible kiku

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Writer/ Translator

I love Japanese folkcraft article, traditional handicrafts and antiques. I’m seeking the Japanese people’s religious outlooks and its origins that are behind Japanese people’s unique sense and techniques rooted in the ordinary life.