Butterbur (fuki no too)


Butterbur sprouts (fuki no too, fuki no tou) fukinotou

***** Location: Japan
***** Season: Early Spring
***** Category: Plant


One of these plants, when mentioning the name, many Japanese turn the eyes to heaven and sigh ! ... and hope for spring.
It is the memorial flower of the northern province of Akita.

The first tempura or miso soup with these sprouts is a special treat in rural areas, especially in mountainous areas of the Main Island, Shikoku and Kyushu, where it shows its head below the snow. It tastes quite bitter, but never mind, this is the taste of SPRING !

This year I had to wait quite a while before being able to take this photo. Finally, quite a cold winter was over !

seeing your face
on the forest ground !
butterbur sprouts

© Photo Gabi Greve, 2006

butterbur sprouts, fuki no too 蕗の薹 ふきのとう
Petasites japonicus
spring butterbur、春の蕗 haru no fuki
butterbur sprouts, fuki no me 蕗の芽
butterbur flowers, fuki no hana 蕗の花

Another name is
"Mother in Law of the Butterbur"
fuki no shuutome, 蕗の(ふきのしゅうとめ)

Japanese Sweet Coltsfoot.

For Summer Kigo, see below.

The Greek word "petasos" means a summer head with a broad rim, like the broad leaves of the plant.

Worldwide use


Things found on the way


Butterbur and sweet potato mixed with bonito flakes

Historical records describe soldiers taking bonito flakes to the battlefield in the Sengoku Period (middle of the 15th century to the beginning of the 17th century). Bonito flakes were eaten as rations as can be seen in this description:
"Eating this invigorates oneself, lightens the mood and alleviates hunger."
The Japanese word for bonito flakes, "katsuo bushi", is pronounced the same as "winning samurai". Hence, bonito flakes were eaten to wish for good fortune for the samurai.

- source : facebook.com/thesamuraigourmet.jp


The scattering petals
of the wild butterbur.
The sound of a waterfall.

Matsuo Basho


蕗の薹 おもひおもひの 夕汽笛
fuki no too omoi-omoi no yuu ki bue

butterbur season -
the different sounds of
night trains

(Tr. Gabi Greve)

中村汀女 Nakamura Teijo


the butterbur leans
as I weed around it
the spring moon looms behind

Koi Nagata,
translated by Nana Naruto and Margaret Mitsutani

Related words

Kigo for Early Summer

***** Butterbur, fuki 蕗
Petasites japonica

butterbur leaves, fuki no ha
field with butterbur, fukibatake

CLICK for more photos
"butterbur like aloeswood", kyarabuki 伽羅蕗
a special dish prepared from the stems, as a tsukudani boiled with soy sauce. The name KYARA comes from the color of the incence, which is the same as the fuki stems.

(Aloeswood (aloes-wood 伽羅) is a special ingredient of incense)

kyarabuki no hodoyoku teri ya San-u no ki

the shimmer of these
boiled coltsfoot stems is just right -
memorial day of Mantaroo

Karasawa Nankaishi 唐沢南海子

kyarabuki no meppoo kara ki otera kana

Boosha 茅舎

WASHOKU : Mori no Megumi
Food from the Bountiful Woods



fuki no ha ni tonde hikkurikaeru kana

onto the butterbur leaf
landing upside down...
a frog

Issa has some more haiku about the butterbur leaves.
Butterbur Haiku by Issa


awabi ama fuku no ha ni fuku iso megane

Woman diver for
abalone wipes goggles
with butterbur leaf
(Tr. Koko Kato)

Akio Ohyama


fukinotou chinoikioi o ete ideshi

butterbur sprout
comes out,
raised by Mother-earth

© Neal's Haiku


***** Coltsfoot (Tussilago farfara), Europa fuki tanpopo (Japan)


WASHOKU ... Japanese Food SAIJIKI



Gabi Greve - WKD said...

mingeikan kura mado chisaki fuki no ame

the small windows
of the Folk Art Museum storehouse -
rain on the butterbur

Arai Yuuji 新井悠二 Arai Yuji


Gabi Greve - Edopedia said...

fuki no ha ni ame kiku yahan ya te-naishoku

listening to the rain
on the butterbur leaves -
doing a little side business

Komine Ooba 小峰大羽 Komine Oba

naishoku side business in Edo

Gabi Greve said...

Kobo Daishi and Amanojaku Legends

Yamagata, 東田川郡 Higashitagawa

Kobo Daishi 弘法大師 and Amanojaku

Once Kobo Daishi walked along the river Mogamigawa 最上川 when a leaf of the butterbur 蕗の葉 came floating downriver, shining all the way.

When he took a closer look, he saw 大日如来の梵字 the Sanskrit letters for Dainichi Nyorai in the leaf. Another leaf followed and then one more and one more . . . There must be something special upstream, he thought and climbed higher. When he came to 湯殿山の滝壷 the pool below the Waterfall of Yudonoyama, an Amanjaku tried to pick up the Sanskrit letters floating down the waterfall and wrapping them into leaves of the butterbur.
Kobo Daishi banned this Amanojaku to the top of 仙人岳 Mount Senningatake.