Benibana・紅花

Farming benihana in Yamagata

Furusato/Hometown is one of my favorite programs on NHK only because it features small towns in Japan or the small town aspects found in the city. The focus is usually on a specialty craft, food, or other characteristics that the town may be known for. I enjoy seeing how people make a living outside of the city and I really get interested when the topic is related to fibers. Recently, a program was on growing and processing Benibana or Safflower. One of the many products derived from this plant during the Edo period was the dye. The red produced came to be known as “Edo red.” It’s harvested in in July in the Yamagata area. The flower head is picked carefully (it’s a prickly), then the flower petals are ground and wrung, turning it into cakes or beni-mochi. It takes time to produce it, but eventually it’s used for dyeing. It looks challenging, but I’d love to try it. I’d especially like to dye with it.

In  Omohide Poro Poro (おもひで ぽろぽろ), by Studio Ghibli, the main character spends time on a small Benibana farm in Yamagata. It’s a gentle story that takes you into the inaka (countryside) and life in an old farmhouse.

A line from Basho:

まゆはきを もかげに して べにの はな。

mayuhaki o omokage ni shite beni no hana

Reminiscent of eyebrow brushes  safflower blossoms.

** Just a note:  previously I said that Omohide Poro Poro was by Miyazaki.  I can’t find his name associated with it, but it was produced by Studio Ghibli which also produces Miyazaki’s films.

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5 Responses to “Benibana・紅花”

  1. whereishenow Says:

    hey, I haven’t heard of OMOHIDE PORO PORO…. is it obscure??? is it a movie??? we have seen kiki and totoro and several others…..

    and once again, I have learned something new from your post. thank you.

    do you get NHK locally???

  2. sofennell Says:

    I didn’t think it was obscure. It’s a Gibli Studio produciton. Here’s a link:
    http://www.nausicaa.net/miyazaki/opp/

    And I get NHK via satellite. It’s the only Japanese channel I have access to, but it is a wonderful treat.

  3. whereishenow Says:

    do you need anything from Japan??? something small and light and easy to carry over and then mail to you????? let me know, we are flying out next thursday, the 31st. and we have never heard of that movie. I guess we should hunt it down and watch it. we love all his films.

    Isn’t it funny that NHK is a treat for you and when the NHK guys knocks on the door, to collect, it’s a BUMMER!!!

  4. sofennell Says:

    Wow! That’s a wonderful offer. Don’t go to any trouble. But should you encounter something light, easy to carry and small…a small textile item?

    As far as the film…I’m not sure it’s a Miyazaki-I don’t see his name attached to it, but it’s definitely a Ghibli. The date on it is also 1991.

  5. sofennell Says:

    Just a note:
    I’ve been misspelling the studio in my comments and can’t seem to edit that. It’s “Studio Ghibli” for anyone who wants to know. It also appears that it isn’t a Miyazaki. I was also mistaken about that.

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