What’s the Story with Tsuki Yori?

Years ago, we had a friend who grew dahlias in his garden. Lots and lots of dahlias. When we visited him, he never let us leave without an armful of freshly cut dahlias. When we got home, we arranged them in a large vase and enjoyed them for the better part of a week.

Conditions in my own garden at that time allowed me to grow only the hardiest of plants, the ones that could cling to life in soil consisting of only clay and shells, enduring assaults by salt spray, drought and foraging deer. Dahlias were out of the question.

Tsuki Yori DahliaWhen we moved, the outlook improved considerably. I planted a variety of dahlia that had failed miserably in my old garden: Tsuki Yori No Shisha. The deeply fringed white petals of Tsuki Yori are a far cry from the meticulously arranged petals of many other dahlias. Its name means “Messenger from the Moon,” the title of an enormously popular Japanese novel which was later made into a movie.

The Tsuki Yori dahlia was hybridized in Japan in 1953 by Kumagai. The novel, Tsuki Yori No Shisha was written by Masao Kume in 1933 and is described as a “melodramatic novel”. The film was made in 1934 and is listed as a “partially lost film”. I have not been able to discover any further description of the book and find myself very curious as to its story line and characters; and especially the “messenger,” who was perhaps a shaggy alien who came to mind when Kumagai saw the shaggy petals of his hybrid dahlia. If any readers of this post have more information, I would greatly appreciated a comment with further details.

Dahlias are the national flower of Mexico and also the official flower of the City of San Francisco. Symbolically, the dahlia denotes elegance and dignity; however, in the Language of Flowers, its meaning is “capriciousness” or “instability,” a better description of Tsuki Yori.

The Tsuki Yori No Shisha dahlia performed very well in my garden this year, blooming for many months. In fact, it is still in bloom now, in late October.

Tsuki Yori Painting

“Tsuki Yori No Shisha”, watercolour, 12″ x 15″


34 thoughts on “What’s the Story with Tsuki Yori?

  1. Pingback: Six on Saturday – 9-16 | the painting gardener

    • Maternal? Hmmm, that’s interesting. I’m fond of this dahlia because it’s so rebellious (for a dahlia, anyway). Definitely benevolent, although the mystery of “Messenger From the Moon” still makes me wonder. . . Thanks for visiting!


  2. That is the most beautiful painting – and it would work so well on greetings cards!
    I had never heard of this Dahlia – in fact I didn’t know there were any with Japanese names. Here it’s all “Bishop of Llandaff”.
    The real thing is remarkable in its twisted scruffiness – it almost looks like it is deformed, if you didn’t know it was meant to be like that! Lovely anyway – a bit special.
    I see from the cast of the film that there are jailers, doctors and nurses, so maybe you could make up your own plot!
    Best wishes 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Wonderful form of Dahlia, both in reality and painting 🙂 I like the different look of it; it has somehow a Japanese feeling, even if you wouldn’t know was ‘born’ there.

    Liked by 1 person

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