Houzuki festival

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Who knew buying a plant could be such a festive event? We walked down to the Bunkyo-ku Asagao and Houzuki Festival at Konyaku-Enma shrine to get a Chinese lantern plant (houzuki) and were greeted by a dozen festival staff. They were so friendly and quite surprised when Tod conversed in Japanese.

Houzuki are old-fashioned summer flowers and every year there are stalls set up at shrines around the city to sell them and asagao which we know as morning glories. I remember houzuki growing in a neighbor's garden when I was a kid. So they are natsukashii even for me.

In addition to the plant, we received a furin. These delicate glass windchimes are painted on the inside with summery patterns; ours has purple flowers and a blue stripe. The tinkle of glass in the summer breeze is ice in a cold drink.

Flower and furin weren't all we took away. Two nice men took our photo as a souvenir and the staff at the register gave us a pen and a handkerchief printed with the festival flowers. It was quite a shower of presents. Maybe because it was the end of the day and they were getting ready to pack everything up or because we were the only customers. Maybe because even in this huge city our foreign faces are a novelty.

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