Shinmei torii The shinmei torii (神明鳥居), which gives the name to the family, is constituted solely by a lintel (kasagi) and two pillars (hashira) united by a tie beam (nuki). In its simplest form, all four elements are rounded and the pillars have no inclination. When the nuki is rectangular in section, it is called Yasukuni torii, from Tokyo's Yasukuni Jinja. It is believed to be the oldest torii style.
Ise torii Ise torii (伊勢鳥居) are gates found only at the Inner Shrine and Outer Shrine at Ise Shrine in Mie Prefecture. For this reason, they are also called Jinguu torii, from Jinguu, Ise Grand Shrine's official Japanese name.
There are two variants. The most common is extremely similar to a shinmei torii, its pillars however have a slight inward inclination and its nuki is kept in place by wedges (kusabi). The kasagi is pentagonal in section. The ends of the kasagi are slightly thicker, giving the impression of an upward slant. All these torii were built after the 14th century.
The second type is similar to the first, but has also a secondary, rectangular lintel (shimaki) under the pentagonal kasagi.
This and the shinmei torii style started becoming more popular during the early 20th century at the time of State Shinto because they were considered the oldest and most prestigious.
Kasuga torii The Kasuga torii (春日鳥居) is a myoujin torii with straight top lintels. The style takes its name from Kasuga-taisha's ichi-no-torii (一の鳥居), or main torii.
The pillars have an inclination and are slightly tapered. The nuki protrudes and is held in place by kusabi driven in on both sides.
This torii was the first to be painted vermilion and to adopt a shimaki at Kasuga Taisha, the shrine from which it takes its name.
Hachiman torii Almost identical to a kasuga torii, but with the two upper lintels at with a slant, the Hachiman torii (八幡鳥居) first appeared during the Heian period. The name comes from the fact that this type of torii is often used at Hachiman shrines.
Kashima torii The kashima torii (鹿島鳥居) is a shinmei torii without korobi, with kusabi and a protruding nuki. It takes its name from Kashima Shrine in Ibaraki Prefecture.
Kuroki torii The kuroki torii (黒木鳥居) is a shinmei torii built with unbarked wood. Because this type of torii requires replacement at three years intervals, it is becoming rare. The most notorious example is Nonomiya Shrine in Kyoto. The shrine now however uses a torii made of synthetic material which simulates the look of wood.
Shiromaruta torii The shiromaruta torii (白丸太鳥居) or shiroki torii (白木鳥居) is a shinmei torii made with logs from which bark has been removed. This type of torii is present at the tombs of all Emperors of Japan.
Mihashira torii The mihashira torii or Mitsubashira Torii (三柱鳥居) is a type of torii which appears to be formed from three individual torii. It is thought by some to have been built by early Japanese Christians to represent the Holy Trinity.
Myoujin torii The myoujin torii (明神鳥居), by far the most common torii style, are characterized by curved upper lintels (kasagi and shimaki). Both curve slightly upwards. Kusabi are present. A myoujin torii can be made of wood, stone, concrete or other materials and be vermilion or unpainted.
Nakayama torii The Nakayama torii (中山鳥居) style, which takes its name from Nakayama Jinja in Okayama Prefecture, is basically a myoujin torii, but the nuki does not protrude from the pillars and the curve made by the two top lintels is more accentuated than usual. The torii at Nakayama Shrine that gives the style its name is 9 m tall and was erected in 1791.
Daiwa / Inari torii The daiwa or Inari torii (大輪鳥居・稲荷鳥居) is a myoujin torii with two rings called daiwa at the top of the two pillars. The name "Inari torii" comes from the fact that vermilion daiwa torii tend to be common at Inari shrines, but even at the famous Fushimi Inari Shrine not all torii are in this style. This style first appeared during the late Heian period.
Sannou torii The sannou torii (山王鳥居) is myoujin torii with a gable over the two top lintels. The best example of this style is found at Hiyoshi Shrine near Lake Biwa.
Miwa torii Also called sankou torii (三光鳥居) or mitsutorii (三鳥居), the miwa torii (三輪鳥居) is composed of three myoujin torii without inclination of the pillars. It can be found with or without doors. The most famous one is at oumiwa Shrine, in Nara, from which it takes its name.
Ryoubu torii Also called yotsuashi torii (四脚鳥居), gongen torii (権現鳥居) or chigobashira torii (稚児柱鳥居), the ryoubu torii (両部鳥居) is a daiwa torii whose pillars are reinforced on both sides by square posts. The name derives from its long association with Ryoubu Shintou, a variety of Shintou strongly influenced by Buddhism. The famous torii rising from the water at Ikutsushima is a ryoubu torii.
Hizen torii The hizen torii (肥前鳥居) is an unusual type of torii with a rounded kasagi and pillars that flare downwards. The example in the gallery below is the main torii at Chiriku Hachimanguu in Saga prefecture, and a city-designated Important Cultural Property.
The Great Fire of Meireki, also known as "the Furisode Fire," destroyed 60-70% of the Japanese capital city of Edo on March 2, 1657, this is the third year of the Meireki Imperial era. It lasted for three days, and is estimated to have claimed over 100,000 lives.
The fire began on the eighteenth day of the year, in Edo's Hongou district, and spread quickly through the city, due to hurricane force winds which were blowing from the northwest. Edo, like most Japanese cities and towns at the time, and like most of those in mainland East Asia, was built primarily from wood and paper. The buildings were especially dry due to a drought the previous year, and the roads and other open spaces between buildings were small and narrow, allowing the fire to spread and grow particularly quickly. Though Edo had a designated fire brigade, called the Hikeshi, it had been established only 21 years earlier, and was simply not large enough, experienced enough, or well-equipped enough to face such a conflagration.
On the second evening, the winds changed, and the fire was pushed from the southern edges of the city back towards its centre. The homes of the shogun's closest retainers, in Koujimachi, were destroyed as the fire made its way towards Edo castle, at the very centre of the city. Ultimately, the main keep was saved, but most of the outer buildings, and all of the retainers' and servants' homes were destroyed. Finally, on the third day, the winds died down, as did the flames, but thick smoke prevented movement about the city, removal of bodies, and reconstruction, for several days further.
On the 24th day of the new year, six days after the fire began, monks and others began to transport the bodies of those killed down the Sumida River to Honjou, a community a short distance outside the city. There, pits were dug and the bodies buried; the Ekou-in (Hall of Prayer for the Dead) was then built on the site.
Reconstruction efforts took two years, as the shogunate took the opportunity to reorganize the city according to various practical considerations. Under the guidance of Rouju Matsudaira Nobutsuna, streets were widened and some districts replanned and reorganized; special care was taken to restore Edo's mercantile center, thus protecting and boosting to some extent the overall national economy. Commoners and samurai retainers alike were granted funds from the government for the rebuilding of their homes, and the restoration of the shogun's castle was left to be completed last. The area around the castle, as it was restored, was reorganized to leave greater spaces to act as firebreaks; retainers' homes were moved further from the castle, and a number of temples and shrines were relocated to the banks of the river.
Oota Doukan, also known as Oota Sukenaga or Oota Doukan Sukenaga, was a Japanese samurai warrior-poet, military tactician and Buddhist monk. Oota Sukenaga took the tonsure (bald scalp) as a Buddhist priest in 1478, and he also adopted the Buddhist name, Doukan, by which is known today. Doukan is best known as the architect and builder of Edo Castle in what is today modern Tokyo; and he is considered the founder of the castle town which grew up around that Ounin era fortress.
Although born into the Oota clan -- and claimed by the Oota as a clan celebrity -- Doukan served as a vassal of the Ougigayatsu branch of the Uesugi clan which occupied land in the Kanto region of Honshu.
Doukan is credited with designing and building Edo Castle for Uesugi Sadamasa over the fortifications Edo Shigenaga had earlier built. Work on the defensive walls and moats began in 1457; and he took the name Doukan the following year.
In the late 16th century, Doukan's castle was chosen as the new home of Tokugawa Ieyasu, who had been persuaded by Toyotomi Hideyoshi to transfer the seat of his clan holdings into the Kanto. With the establishment of the Tokugawa shogunate in the early 17th century, Edo Castle became the center of the shogunate government. When the shogunate was displaced in the Meiji Restoration in the late 19th century, the newly named Tokyo became an Imperial capital with an Imperial Palace rising from the former shogun's stronghold. Every October 1, modern Tokyo celebrates the anniversary of its founding, which becomes a festival in honor of the memory of the samurai who would become honored as the founder of a great city.
Tsukishima is located in Chuo-ku, Tokyo, Japan. It is an island formed of reclaimed land completed in 1892, using earth from the dredging work performed to create a shipping channel in Tokyo Bay. At this time, it was designated an area for iron-working in accordance with the Fukoku Kyouhei National Policy. The second area of reclaimed land forming the island was completed two years later in 1894. It has been said that the name (literally "moon island") was originally written using the characters 築島 which can also be read "Tsukishima" but mean "constructed island".
Monjayaki, often called simply "monja", is a type of Japanese pan-fried batter with various ingredients. It is similar to okonomiyaki but monjayaki, a specialty of the Kanto region, is made with a dough more liquid than is okonomiyaki. The ingredients are finely chopped and mixed into the batter before frying. The mixture is far runnier than okonomiyaki, and it has a consistency comparable to a pool of melted cheese when cooked. It is then eaten directly off the grill using a small metal spatula. Many monjayaki restaurants can be found in the Tsukishima district of Tokyo, where the dish is said to have originated. Most also serve regular okonomiyaki.
Matsudaira Sadanobu, Japanese daimyo of the mid-Edo period, famous for his financial reforms which saved the Shirakawa Domain, and the similar reforms he undertook during his tenure as chief senior councilor (老中首座) of the Tokugawa Shogunate, from 1787 to 1793.
Sadanobu was born in Edo Castle on January 15, 1759, into the Tayasu branch of the Tokugawa house. The Tayasu was one of the gosankyou, the seniormost of the lesser cadet branches of the Shogun's family, which still bore the name Tokugawa (instead of the cadet branches which had the Matsudaira surname).
His father was Tayasu Munetake, the son of the reform-minded eighth shogun Tokugawa Yoshimune. The Tayasu house stood apart from the other cadet branches resident in Edo Castle, living a more austere lifestyle, following the example set by Yoshimune - in Munetake's words, the praise of manly spirit (masuraoburi) as opposed to feminine spirit (taoyameburi). It also set itself apart from the other branches due to its history of thwarted political ambition - the founder, Munetake, had hoped to become his father's heir but was passed over for Yoshimune's eldest son, Ieshige. As a result, Sadanobu was brought up from a very young age with the hopes of being placed as the next shogunal heir. His education was very thorough, being done along Confucian lines, and by his teens Sadanobu had already read and memorized much of the Confucian canon. As he matured, there was a further onus on Sadanobu for success as several members of the Tayasu house began to die young. Further attempts were made by the family to place Sadanobu as the next shogunal heir, but they were thwarted by the political clique of Tanuma Okitsugu, who was then in power as the chief roujuu.
Following the last failed attempt at adoption by the shogun, Sadanobu was adopted by Matsudaira Sadakuni, head of one of the Hisamatsu-Matsudaira houses (another Tokugawa cadet branch), which ruled the Shirakawa Domain in southern (Mutsu Province with an assessment of 110,000 koku), succeeding to headship in late 1783 following his stepfather's protracted illness. He was immediately faced with his domain's economically disastrous position: of 110,000 koku that it was supposed to be able to produce, 108,600 had been reported "lost". Sadanobu worked ceaselessly to fix the economic situation in Shirakawa, finally saving it and bringing its finances and agriculture back to stability. These reforms, coupled with Sadanobu's continued political maneuvering, brought him fame, and he was named chief councilor of the Shogunate in the summer of 1787, and regent to the 11th shogun Tokugawa Ienari early the following year.
This period of Sadanobu's strengthening of the already faltering Tokugawa regime is known as the Kansei Reforms. His policies could as well be construed as a reactionary response to the execesses of his predecessor under Shogun Ieharu. He recovered the finances of the Shogunate to some extent, and had some success in rescuing its reputation. However, following the Title Incident and the visit of Adam Laxman, Sadanobu's credibility and popularity in the Tokugawa bureaucracy became overtaxed, and true to the suggestion in his autobiography that "one should retire before discontent sets in," he resigned.
The Japanese rock gardens "Karesansui" or "dry landscape" gardens, often called "Zen gardens" were influenced mainly by Zen Buddhism and can be found at Zen temples of meditation.
Japanese gardens are a living work of art in which the plants and trees are ever changing with the seasons. As they grow and mature, they are constantly sculpted to maintain and enhance the overall experience; hence, a Japanese garden is never the same and never really finished. The underlying structure of a Japanese garden is determined by the architecture; that is, the framework of enduring elements such as buildings, verandas and terraces, paths, tsukiyama (artificial hills), and stone compositions. Over time, it is only as good as the careful maintenance that it receives by those skilled in the art of training and pruning. Part of the art is to keep the garden almost still, like a painting.
Karesansui gardens can be extremely abstract and represent (miniature) landscapes also called "mind-scapes". This Buddhist preferred way to express cosmic beauty in worldly environments is inextricable from Zen Buddhism.
Unlike other traditional gardens, there is no water present in Karesansui gardens (or the karesansui compartment of a garden). There is gravel or sand, raked or not raked, that symbolizes sea, ocean, rivers or lakes.
The act of raking the gravel into a pattern recalling waves or rippling water has an aesthetic function. Zen priests practice this raking also to help their concentration. Achieving perfection of lines is not easy. Rakes are according to the patterns of ridges as desired and limited to some of the stone objects situated within the gravel area. Nonetheless often the patterns are not static. Developing variations in patterns is a creative and inspiring challenge.
Stone arrangements and other miniature elements are used to represent mountains and natural water elements and scenes, islands, rivers and waterfalls. Stone and shaped shrubs (karikomi, hako-zukuri topiary) are used interchangeable. In most gardens moss is used as a ground cover to create "land" covered by forest.
Other, mostly stone, objects are sometimes used symbolically to represent mountains, islands, boats, or even people. Karesansui gardens are often, but not always, meant to be viewed from a single vantage point from a seated position.
Taira no Masakado was a samurai in the Heian period of Japan, who led one of the largest insurgent forces in the period against the central government of Kyoto.
Masakado was a member of the Kammu Taira clan of Japan. He was the son of Taira no Yoshimochi, Chinjufu Shogun. His childhood name was Souma Kojirou. Taira no Masakado was a powerful landowner in the Kanto region. He is regarded as the first bushi because he was the first to lead a self-governing party.
His life is detailed in the Shoumonki, a detailed book about his life believed to have been completed as early as the 940s by an anonymous author. Due to the religious and political nature of the account, it was most probably written by a monk or aristocrat closely connected to Masakado himself.
In 939, during the Heian period of Japanese history, Masakado led a minor rebellion which is also known as Jouhei Tengyo no ran. The armed struggle began when Masakado led an attack on an outpost of the central government in Hitachi Province, capturing the governor. In December of that year, he conquered Shimotsuke and Kouzuke Provinces; and he claimed the title of Shinnou (New Emperor). Masakado killed his uncle Kunika who was part Taira. The central government in Kyoto responded by putting a bounty on his head, and fifty-nine days later his cousin Sadamori, whose father Masakado had attacked and killed, and Fujiwara no Hidesato, killed him at the Battle of Kojima (Shimoosa Province) in 940 and took his head to the capital.
The head found its way to Shibasaki, a small fishing village on the edge of the ocean and the future site of Edo, which later became Tokyo. It was buried. The kubizuka, or grave, which is located in the present day Otemachi section of Tokyo, was on a hill rising out of Tokyo Bay at the time. Through land reclamation over the centuries, the bay has receded some three kilometers to the south.
Over the centuries, Masakado became a demigod to the locals who were impressed by his stand against the central government, while at the same time feeling the need to appease his malevolent spirit. The fortunes of Edo and Tokyo seemed to wax and wane correspondingly with the respect paid to the shrine built to him at the kubizuka - neglect would be followed by natural disasters and other misfortunes. Hence, to this day, the shrine is well maintained, occupying some of the most expensive land in the world in Tokyo’s financial district facing the Imperial Palace.
Fujiwara no Kamatari was the founder of the Fujiwara clan in Japan. His birth clan was the Nakatomi. He was the son of Nakatomi no Mikeko, and his birth name was Nakatomi no Kamatari. Just before his death, he received the surname Fujiwara from Emperor Tenji.
He was a friend and supporter of the Prince Naka no Ooe, later Emperor Tenji. Kamatari was the head of the Jingi no Haku, or Shinto ritualists; as such, he was one of the chief opponents of the increasing power and prevalence of Buddhism in the court, and in the nation. As a result, in 645, Prince Naka no Ooe and Kamatari made a coup d'etat in the court. They slew Soga no Iruka who had a strong influence over Empress Kougyoku; thereafter, Iruka's father, Soga no Emishi, committed suicide.
Empress Kougyoku was forced to abdicate in favor of her younger brother, who became Emperor Koutoku; Koutoku then appointed Kamatari naidaijin (Inner Minister). He then went on to help write the Taika Reforms, a major set of reforms based on Chinese models and aimed at strengthening Imperial power.
During his life Kamatari continued to support Prince Naka no Ooe, who became Emperor Tenji in 661. Tenji granted him the highest rank Taishokan and a new clan name, Fujiwara, as honors.
His son was Fujiwara no Fuhito. Kamatari's nephew, Nakatomi no Omimaro became head of Ise Shrine, and passed down the Nakatomi name.
In the 13th century, the main line of the Fujiwara family split into five houses: Konoe, Takatsukasa, Kujou, Nijou and Ichijou. These five families in turn provided regents for the Emperor, and were thus known as the Five Regent Houses. The Tachibana clan also claim descent from the Fujiwara. Emperor Montoku of the Taira clan was descended through his mother of the Fujiwara.
Until the marriage of the Crown Prince Hirohito (posthumously Emperor Showa) to Princess Kuni Nagako (posthumously Empress Koujun) in January 1924, the principal consorts of emperors and crown princes had always been recruited from one of the Sekke Fujiwara. Imperial princesses were often married to Fujiwara lords - throughout a millennium at least. As recently as Emperor Showa's third daughter, the late former Princess Takanomiya, and Prince Mikasa's elder daughter, the former Princess Yasuko, married into Takatsukasa and Konoe families, respectively. Empress Shouken was a descendant of the Fujiwara clan and through Hosokawa Gracia of the Minamoto clan. Likewise a daughter of the last Tokugawa Shogun married a second cousin of Emperor Showa.
Three unifiers of Japan were related to the Fujiwara: ・Oda Nobunaga's great-grand niece married into the Fujiwara. ・Toyotomi Hideyoshi's second wife was distantly related by marriage to the Fujiwara. ・Tokugawa Ieyasu's heirs married into the Fujiwara.
A binbougami (God of poverty) is a kami who inhabits a human or his house to bring misery and poverty. Several Japanese folklores, essays, and rakugos refer to it.
Generally, binbougami appears with a skinny, dirty old man's shape, with an uchiwa in his hand. Binbougami likes lazy people.
Toen Shousetsu(兎園小説), mystery stories written by Kyokutei Bakin, includes a story of kyuuki (窮鬼). In 1821, there was a bushi house with ever-present misery. Once, the man who served the house went to Souka and came across a bonze. The man asked him where he came from. The bonze replied he came from the house where the man belonged. The man said that he had never seen the bonze before. "I'm binbougami," the bonze answered, "and that's why so many people in the house caught illness. That house has got enough misery, so I shall go to another house. Your master will have better luck hereafter." and the bonze disappeared. Just as the bonze said, people in the house got better luck gradually.
Being kami, nobody can kill binbougami. But it is not impossible to avoid. Superstition in Niigata Prefecture says how: If you light irori on oomisoka, irori's heat kicks binbougami out and invites fukunokami (God of good luck), who likes the warmth of irori. There are many other superstitions which connect binbougami with irori, including that in Tsushima, Ehime Prefecture: If an irori is lighted too repeatedly, binbougami appears.
Tankai(譚海), an essay collection by Souan Tsumura, includes a story about binbougami: During a nap, a man dreamed of a ragged old man coming inside the room. Thereafter, everything the man did went the wrong way. Four years later, in a dream, the old man appeared again. The old man said that he was going to leave the house and told the man how to send a binbougami away: Make some baked rice and baked miso, and place them on oshiki (wooden board, with four bent edges to serve as a tray), and take them through the back door and dump them into the river. And the old man also told how to avoid binbougami thereafter: Not to make any baked miso, which is preferred by binbougami, and never to eat any raw miso, which makes poverty too severe to light any fire to bake miso. The man did as he had been told, and poverty was never brought.
It is also said that hospitality of the inhabited people may turn binbougami into fukunokami. Ihara Saikaku's Nippon Eidaigura (日本永代蔵) includes the story (Inoru shirushi no kami no oshiki 祈る印の神の折敷 lit.oshiki as a praying sign) which tells about the man who deified a binbougami. At the night of Jinjitsu (January 7th in the Japanese former calendar), a binbougami appeard at the man's bedside and thanked him, "I had a prepared dinner with tray for the first time", and made the man millionaire in return. And it is also said that a poor hatamoto, who thought binbougami had brought him security as well as poverty, put sake and rice to pray binbougami for a litte bit of luck. And then, he got a little bit of luck. This binbougami is now enshrined in a small shrine beside Kitano Shrine, in Bunkyou ward, Tokyo. If you pray the small shrine to welcome binbougami temporarily, and send him away 21 days later, it is said, you can avoid binbougami thereafter.
Botamochi are a springtime treat made with sweet rice and sweet azuki (red bean) paste. They are made by soaking sweet rice for approximately six hours. The rice is then cooked, and a thick azuki paste is hand-packed around pre-formed balls of rice.
A very similar treat, ohagi, uses a slightly different texture of azuki paste, but is otherwise almost identical. It is made in autumn. Some recipe variations in both cases call for a coating of soy flour to be applied to the botamochi/ohagi after the azuki paste.
The two different names are derived from the Botan (peony) which blooms in the spring and the Hagi (Japanese bush clover or Lespedeza) which blooms during autumn.
Ohagi is named after the bush clover (hagi), which flowers during autumn. Botamochi is the modern name for the dish "Kaimochi" mentioned in the Heian Period text Ujishui Monogatari (宇治拾遺物語).
Umeboshi are pickled ume fruits common in Japan. Ume is a species of fruit-bearing tree in the genus Prunus, which is often called a plum but is actually more closely related to the apricot. Umeboshi are a popular kind of tsukemono (pickles) and are extremely sour and salty. They are usually served as side dishes for rice or stuffed inside of rice balls (sometimes without removing their seeds inside) for breakfast and lunch. They are occasionally served boiled or seasoned for dinner.
Umeboshi are usually round, and vary from unwrinkled to very wrinkled. They taste salty, and are extremely sour due to high citric acid content. Umeboshi were notorious for their ability to eat their way through the plain drawn aluminum lunch boxes commonly used in the 1960s. The combination of organic acids and salt in the umeboshi were the cause of this phenomenon.
The central area of Wakayama prefecture is known throughout Japan for the number and quality of its ume and umeboshi. The town of Minabe, Wakayama, in particular, grows more ume and produces more umeboshi than any other town in all of Japan.
Umeboshi are traditionally made by harvesting ume fruit when they ripen around June and packing them in barrels with salt. A weight is placed on top and the fruit gradually exude juices, which accumulate at the bottom of the barrel. This salty, sour liquid is marketed as umezu (often translated as "ume vinegar"), although it is not a true vinegar.
Most modern umeboshi are made by using less salt and by pickling the ume in a seasoned liquid or vinegar. They are typically dyed red using purple perilla herbs (called akajiso), or flavoured with katsuobushi, kombu or even sweetened with honey. Because modern methods of preservation use less salt, they usually contain an artificial preservative to extend shelf life.
Wisteria, especially Wisteria sinensis, is very hardy and fast-growing. It is considered an invasive species in certain areas. It can grow in fairly poor-quality soils, but prefers fertile, moist, well-drained ones. It thrives in full sun to partial shade.
Wisteria can be propagated via hardwood cutting, softwood cuttings, or seed. However, seeded specimens can take decades to bloom; for that reason, gardeners usually grow plants that have been started from rooted cuttings or grafted cultivars known to flower well. Another reason for failure to bloom can be excessive fertilizer (particularly nitrogen). Wisteria has nitrogen fixing capability (provided by Rhizobia bacteria in root nodules), and thus mature plants may benefit from added potassium and phosphate, but not nitrogen. Finally, wisteria can be reluctant to bloom because it has not reached maturity. Maturation may require only a few years, as in Kentucky Wisteria, or nearly twenty, as in Chinese Wisteria. Maturation can be forced by physically abusing the main trunk, root pruning, or drought stress.
Wisteria can grow into a mound when unsupported, but is at its best when allowed to clamber up a tree, pergola, wall, or other supporting structure. Whatever the case, the support must be very sturdy, because mature Wisteria can become immensely strong and heavy wrist-thick trunks and stems. These will certainly rend latticework, crush thin wooden posts, and can even strangle large trees. Wisteria allowed to grow on houses can cause damage to gutters, downspouts, and similar structures. Its pendulous racemes are best viewed from below.
Wisteria flowers develop in buds near the base of the previous year's growth, so pruning back side shoots to the basal few buds in early spring can enhance the visibility of the flowers. If it is desired to control the size of the plant, the side shoots can be shortened to between 20 and 40 cm long in mid summer, and back to 10 to 20 cm in the fall. The flowers of some varieties are edible, and can even be used to make wine. Others are said to be toxic. Careful identification by an expert is strongly recommended before consuming this or any wild plant.
Carp, along with many of their cyprinid relatives, are popular ornamental aquarium and pond fish. The two most notable ornamental carps are goldfish and koi. Goldfish and koi have advantages over most other ornamental fishes, in that they are tolerant of cold (they can survive in water temperatures as low as 4 degrees Celsius), can survive at low oxygen levels, and can tolerate low water quality.
Goldfish (Carassius auratus) were originally domesticated from the Prussian carp (Carassius gibelio), a dark greyish brown carp native to Asia. They were first bred for color in China over a thousand years ago. Due to selective breeding, goldfish have been developed into many distinct breeds and are found in various colors, color patterns, forms and sizes far different from those of the original carp. Goldfish were kept as ornamental fish in China for hundreds of years before being introduced to Japan in the 15th century, and to Europe in the late 17th century.
Koi are a domesticated variety of common carp (Cyprinus carpio) that have been selectively culled for color. The common carp was introduced from China to Japan, where selective breeding of the common carp in the 1820s in the Niigata region resulted in koi. In Japanese culture, koi are treated with affection, and seen as good luck. They are popular in other parts of the world as outdoor pond fish.