Living in a concrete jungle, it’s not surprising that many Japanese are eager to bring wildlife back into their lives.
One pioneering figure in this field is plant hunter Seijun Nishihata. The fifth-generation representative of major plant wholesaler Hanau Co., he travels around the world in search of unique flowers and plants. Whether it’s down to his charm, his Kansai-influenced sense of humor, his sense of adventure or the exposure he received on the documentary TV show “Jounetsu tairiku,” Nishihata clearly has struck a chord with many people.
This summer, Nishihata is presenting a sample of this green world in the form of “Ultra Plants Exhibition,” at Ginza’s Pola Museum Annex. The selection of rare plants includes a desert rose from Yemen, a prickly tree from a Madagascar thorn forest, and a rare flower from the Indochina peninsula (which was supposed to be featured on Nippon TV’s “Sekaiichi Uketai Jugyou” until staff realized that its smell was too strong). Many of Nishihata’s favorite seasonal plants are also displayed throughout the year at Yoyogi Village’s garden.
Qusamura is another Japanese company that’s cultivating this market for green exotics. Run by “plant sculptor” Kohei Oda, its mission is to find one-of-a-kind plants that are beautiful in unconventional ways. Oda also travels widely in search of unusual plants, some of which can cost as much as ¥70,000.
In addition to selling plants, Qusamura has held multiple art exhibitions this year, such as “Kurogane and Koppaku,” where plants and flowers were presented in bowls created by ceramic artist Shiro Hamanaka. This May, Oda collaborated with American ceramic artist Adam Silverman to release “Grafted,” a collection of photographs of Qusamura plants adorned in Silverman’s pots.
For those who are more into seeing exotic plants in action, several venues throughout Japan — Osaka, Kyoto, Kochi, Kanagawa, and Tokyo, to name a few — are exhibiting carnivores from the plant this year. In addition to showing how plants that look like cobras attract and digest insects, the exhibitions will present experiments that investigate whether the carnivorous plants’ digestive fluids can melt more than just insects.
No doubt, all of this will appeal to what Nikkei Trendy Net calls “fleshy girls.” Forget the first image that comes to mind; according the publication, fleshy girls are women who collect fleshy plants, which generally contain more water to survive in arid climates. These plants are perfect interior plants because they are usually small and do not wither so easily. Attesting to their popularity, more than a 100,000 Instagram photos have been uploaded with the #fleshyplant hashtag in Japanese.
According to T-SITE news, Staghorn ferns are the newest trend in interior plants. Just as its name implies, staghorn ferns resemble the shape of deer horns. Some say it also looks like flying bats. Fern fans and interior decorators love this plant because it’s an epiphyte, an acrobatic type of plant that grow on other things, walls or ceilings; no pots necessary.