Yew tree (ichi-i)


Yew Tree (ichi i, ichii, ichi-i)

***** Location: Japan, other regions
***** Season: Various, see below
***** Category: Plant


kigo for late spring

flower of the yew tree, ichi-i no hana 
一位の花 いちいのはな
..... araragi あららぎ
..... onko おんこ

ooo ooo ooo ooo ooo ooo ooo ooo ooo ooo ooo ooo

kigo for late autumn

red fruit of the yew tree, ichi-i no mi
一位の実 いちいのみ
..... araragi no mi あららぎの実
..... onko no mi おんこの実
..... kyaraboku no mi 伽羅木の実
..... ichi-i no mi 水松の実

Ichi-i いちい written in hiragana is also another name for the acorn, donguri.


Ichii (Yew)


And thou from earth art gone
Long since and in some quiet churchyard laid;
Some country nook, where o'er thy unknown grave
Tall grasses and white flowering nettles wave --
Under a dark red-fruited yew-tree's shade.

From "The Scholar Gypsy" by Mathew Arnold (1822-88)

In autumn, the feathery branches of yew trees are dripping with lovely, translucent red berries. But beware -- they contain a poisonous seed. As for the shiny leaves, they are even more dangerous than the berries. Nevertheless, yews are handsome, highly regarded trees.

In Japan the name means "tree of the first rank 一位." In ancient Britain, yew trees were planted on holy sites to ward off evil spirits, and in parts of Germany, Scandinavia and Russia, the yew is the origin of the mythical "tree of life." Today, Britain has the largest number of ancient yews; over 400 trees, each more than 1,000 years old.

They are often seen, dark and mysterious, in old churchyards, and have survived the woodman's ax because of their sacred nature. In addition, yews have few natural enemies, and some excellent strategies for survival. If a tree is blown down in a storm, it will stay alive as long as a small piece of root remains to connect it to earth. As a tree matures, it sends out shoots that flank the main trunk. As the old center slowly dies away, the new trunks take over and support the spreading tree.

The Japanese yew (Taxus cuspida) is faster-growing than the English yew (T. baccata), but both are slow-growing evergreens that are popular with gardeners. Yew wood has a beautiful grain, and in Japan it was used to make the ceremonial batons held by the Emperor and members of his court.

© The Japan Times, Nov. 1, 2006


Worldwide use


The European yew tree is taxus baccata :

The Irish yew (taxus baccata fastigiata) differs from the European yew in having several trunks, all growing upwards together, as well as leaves spread all around the branches.

These are ancient and sacred trees, often growing around churches and in their graveyards and outlasting the churches even when these are closed for worship.

If the yew is kigo in Ireland, it would be winter, when the red berries look very attractive and provide food for the birds. They are associated with Christmas, though more loosely than the holly and the ivy.

In my rural Irish home, we have two short yew walks, one Irish yew, one European yew -- the European one provides wonderful shelter in the rain, as its branches grow outwards.

Isabelle Prondzynski

Things found on the way

. Temple 小谷山医座寺 Iza-Ji, Matsuyama .

Once upon a time in a village of the 医座山(白山) "White Mountain" there was 一位木(あららぎ) a sacred Araragi tree. The tree was so huge it made a large shadow on the nearby fields and the farmers asked Gyoki for help. So he felled the tree. To appease the spirit of the tree he then carved seven statues of Yakushi Nyorai and placed them in seven temples, which he founded in Iyo.
伊予七薬師霊場 The Seven Yakushi Temples of Iyo.


Daruma and netsuke are carved from this tree too.
Here is my favorite, the yawning Daruma. Carved in Hida/Takayama.

Read more about it here: Daruma Yawning


一位の 実含みて吐きて 旅遠し

富安風生 Tomiyasu Fuusei

Related words





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