Photo by © cinnamonellie

Higanbana: Various meanings of the red spider lily and where to view it in Japan

Many of you might be familiar with the crimson flowers because of anime.

Popular series such as Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba, Hell Girl, or Dororo are just a few of the many that featured the crimson spider lilies in the background.

Usually, the flowers are often associated with death, and you can see it blooming in many places all over Japan.

The name “彼岸花” (higanbana) comes from Japanese, and it means “flower of the autumn equinox”. As the name suggests, these flowers bloom in autumn, from September to early October.

"お彼岸/O-higan" is a national holiday in Japan and represents the autumn equinox.

Various names and meanings of the red spider lily

The red spider lily has over 1,000 names, and the most common ones are higanbana, red spider lily, or Lycoris Radiata.

Another popular name is kajibana(火事花)/the fire flower. Because of the petals that look like flames when it blooms, many people associate it with fire, therefore the name kajibana.

However, there is also a legend about catching fire if you get the flowers in your house.

A lot of the names are associated with death, poison, or Buddhism, and here are some of the most known ones:

  • Manjujage 曼珠沙華 (Cluster Amaryllis)
  • Shibito Bana 死人花 (The Flower of the Dead)
  • Yūrei Bana 幽霊花 (The Ghost Flower)
  • Shibire Bana シビレバナ (Numbness Flower)
  • Oya Koroshi オヤコロシ (“Oya koroshi” would be translated as parricide)
  • Jigoku Bana 地獄花 (The Hell Flower)

The reason why this flower has so many ominous names might be because of their color, red as blood, and also the places where you can often spot them (graveyards, for example).

The flowers’ bulbs are also poisonous, and the reason why people see them around graveyards is that they keep animals away.


Farmers also used to plant them to keep mice, insects away from the fields.

Besides the few names above, there are also a few unusual ones such as ハミズハナミ/Hamizu Hanamizu.

At first, I was so confused about this one as Hanamizu means runny nose in Japanese, so I was wondering why this name and how is it related to the flowers.

The reason is not that the flower secrets some mucus or anything, but because higanbana doesn’t have leaves.

The name doesn’t come from hanamizu/runny nose, but from the saying: 「葉は花を見ず、花は葉を見ず」/ ha wa hana wo mizu, hana wa ha wo mizu which means: “The leaves do not see the flowers. The flowers do not see the leaves”.

The blossoms never get to see the leaves, so that is considered one of the peculiar things of the red spider lilies.


Places to view the beautiful red spider lilies in Japan


Gongendō Park 権現堂公園 in Saitama

The Gongendō Park in Saitama is very famous for viewing not only the higanbana but many other flowers such as hydrangea, cherry blossoms, or canola.

I went there in early October and was surprised to see so many red spider lilies! I recommend going in the latter half of September rather than early October as the flowers’ colors are most vivid and beautiful during that period.


Hibiya Park 日比谷公園

Hibiya Park is also a great spot to view the crimson flowers of autumn while taking a stroll and enjoying a tranquil atmosphere.


Kinchakuda Higanbana Fields 巾着田の里

You can enjoy the higanbana fields at Kinchakuda in Saitama Prefecture.

It is probably the biggest spot to enjoy the red spider lilies in Japan, and for a small fee of 300 yen, you will have an extraordinary experience and a spectacular view of the flowers.

I recommend going from mid-September to late September when the flowers are at its peak.

The festival canceled this year, but if by next year, things will calm down a little and you plan on visiting Japan in September, you can also have a unique time at the Kinchakuda Manjushage Festival and enjoy the spectacular scenery they offer.


By - cinnamonellie.