Let's revive hollyhock flowers to their former abundance.
The hollyhock flower is called aoi in Japanese, but its significance comes from its old name afuhi, which is said to be filled with hi — a word expressing deity and life force.
The hollyhock is the symbol of a hopeful heart that is praying for abundance to the country.
Since long ago, the flower has been thought of as a holy plant and treated with great care. They used to grow abundant at the Kamigamo Shrine in Kyoto.
About 10,000 hollyhock leafs are used every year as decoration for the Aoi Matsuri (or "Hollyhock Festival"), which is one of the big three festivals in Kyoto.
However, due to environmental changes the flower has started to vanish, and now it only grows scarcely in remote mountains.
In 2007 we found out about the Hollyhock Project. Its aim is to revive the flower to its former abundance. We joined the project and have ever since been growing hollyhocks together with local people in Kyoto and educational institutions such as elementary schools.
There is a second purpose to the project as well. Through growing hollyhocks, we cultivate our own hearts to be sympathetic towards nature and create human connections.
We, at WAKASA SEIKATSU, grow hollyhock seedlings to be used in the Aoi Matsuri festival. We also actively participate in events for creating flower ornaments and doing other things in preparation for the festival.
We received an official thank-you letter for our efforts in 2015. Our work still continues, and the Hollyhock Project is a way for us to meet many people and tell the next generation about nature, culture, and tradition.