When we think of bamboo, we often think of China, and its pandas, but believe it or not there is more to bamboo
than you think. Bamboo is not just a plant commonly found in Asian
countries. Bamboo is symbolic in Japanese Culture. In fact, bamboo is so
abundant there that Japan was able to utilize them for many years.
Few reasons why bamboo is important in Japanese Culture
1. Bamboo in Japan
we usually associate bamboo with Chinese culture, Japan actually has
plenty of bamboo. Because it is so abundant, the Japanese have used them
for warmth, construction, handicrafts, and even in Japanese cuisines.
is so enshrined in Japanese culture that they even have expressions
inspired by bamboo. Expressions such as “ki ni take o tsuida yo da”
(like bamboo grafted onto a tree), “take ni ki tsugu” (putting bamboo
and wood together), “yabuisha” (incompetent doctor quack created by
combining the words “yabu” which means bamboo, and “isha” which means
doctor), and “yabuhebi” (to reap ill fortune from an unnecessary act)
are just a few examples of common Japanese expressions inspired by
experiences with using bamboo.
2. Structure of the bamboo
signifies strength and prosperity. The very features of the bamboo
plant make it all the more proper. Believe it or not, bamboo is a very
strong plant. Its root structure is unlike anything you’ve ever seen. It
is strong enough to withstand the hot summers, the cold winters, and
sometimes it’s even the only thing standing after an earthquake. This is
the reason why in Japan, people are advised to go to bamboo forests in
case of earthquakes as bamboo has a stronger and more stable structure
than most trees.
3. Tale of the Bamboo Cutter
Japan, bamboo also symbolizes purity and innocence. This is exemplified
by their well-loved tale, called Taketori Monogatari which translates
to Tale of the Bamboo Cutter. In this story, a young lady named
Kaguya-hime was found inside a bamboo stalk. She was raised by an old
man and woman, and although many young men proposed to her, she said yes
to none. One evening came the full moon; she suddenly disappears to
return to the moon because it was her place of birth.
4. Bamboo to ward off evil
has plenty of festivals. In some festivals however, they usually use
bamboo and bamboo grass to ward off evil. One good example of this is
the Tanabata festival where people write wishes on strips of paper and
hang them on bamboo grass.
is also used by some shrines. Some use regular bamboo groves as
protection for evil but some take a higher scale when it comes to using
bamboo. For instance, there’s a Shinto shrine in Japan surrounded by a
bamboo forest. That forest serves as a sacred barrier or wall against
really is a significant part of Japanese culture. It is something that
is embedded in their lives that have in some way shape of form changed
or influenced their way of living.