Each year in August thousands of water hyacinth bloom at a roadside station in Kazo City. Doyono Furusato Otone Roadside Station attracts thousands of visitors each year when the water hyacinth are in bloom. Water hyacinth is native to the tropics. Supposedly they came to Japan in the Meiji era. The hyacinth in Kazo bloom from mid June until around early October, with prime viewing generally from mid July to mid August.
Water hyacinth in Japanese
Interestingly the water hyacinth in Japanese is named after the stomach of Hotei (or Hoteison). Hotei is one of the Seven Lucky Gods! Hotei is the God of fortune and of popularity. Furthermore, he is the patron of barmen as well as diviners. Moreover, he is known as the Guardian of Children believed to grant family harmony and household prosperity. In addition, he also grants fertility and peace too. That bag he carries is full of fortune and never empties. A Lucky God indeed!
Hotei is depicted carrying a bag on his shoulder and fan in his left hand. Known as the laughing buddha or fat buddha in the West, he is supposedly the only one of the seven lucky Gods to be based on a real person. Pictured as a jolly bald fat man with a large belly that spills over his waistband. His long ears supposedly a sign of high spirituality. Curiously, the water hyacinth is said to look like his belly. I can’t see it all, can you? Hence in Japanese the water hyacinth is Hotei Aoi which is interpreted as Hotei’s stomach. An Aoi is also the word for a hollyhock or mallow flower.
Doyono Furusato Otone Roadside Station
The Doyono Furusato Otone Roadside Station is located along route 46 in Kazo City. The official website of the roadside station. They have a dedicated page for the hyacinth on their website. However, they tend to only post a photo at the start of season and again toward the end of season. In 2021, they posted on June 13th to say the hyacinths had started to bloom.
Featured image from the Kazo Tourism and Products Association website.