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Updated: May 22, 2019
The Iriya Morning Glory Festival, or Asagao Matsuri, is held from July 6 to 8 every year, and is the largest festival in Japan dedicated to morning glories. During these three days, Kototoi-dori road and Iriya Kishimojin Temple are lined with 60 stalls run by morning glory specialists and 96 other stalls, attracting more than 400,000 people. Named after the Buddhist deity associated with an easy delivery and the protection of children, Kishimojin is also known as Shingenji Temple.
The morning glories of Iriya are said to have earned renown toward the end of the Edo period (1603-1867). The flowers were initially cultivated in the Okachimachi area of Tokyo, but as the Edo period came to an end, gardens were set up in Iriya. By the mid-Meiji era (1868-1912), the Iriya breeds were so attractive that they became popular as decorative plants.
In their heyday, Iriya's gardeners created some 1,000 varieties of morning glory through deliberate cross-pollination. The flowers momentarily vanished from Iriya during the Taisho era (1912-1926), but after World War II, a team of locals and the Shitaya Tourism Association revived the tradition and organized the festival as we know it today.
This three-day seasonal event will surely take you back to the Edo period. Come experience a summer tradition that dates all the way back to ancient times, and see the morning glories that have delighted so many generations of Tokyoites.
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