Vivid red spider lilies at Nogawa Park

Red spider lilies at Nogawa Park! In previous years, I tried to see them many times. But for one reason or another, I always went too late in the season. Well, in September 2022, I made up for my past failures. This time, they were at their best. It was a great day for flower photography.

I do have to say one thing, though. For these photos, I was hoping to use my extension tubes. I bought them earlier in the year and have only used them once. Believe it or not, I forgot to put them in my bag. When I got to the park and realized my mistake, I was livid. Oh well, but I had a camera, some lenses, and my flash. I could still take photos.

If you don’t know about Nogawa Park. It’s between Tama and Shin-Koganei stations on the Seibu-Tamagawa line. For full information, read my full article here.

Once in the park, make your way to the Nature Observation Garden. There are many maps on the pathways, so you shouldn’t get lost! Go through the gate, and walk to your left. The flowers should be there.

How was my first visit to Nogawa Park’s red spider lilies?

It was more than satisfactory. I wouldn’t say the spider lilies covered the ground like a blanket, but it was close. With overcast skies muting the light, the conditions were good for photography. 

The clouds occasionally let some sun through, and its beams lit some flowers with others in the shade. At times, it was nearly a fairy-tale feeling there. I’m glad I took my flash.

How did I process these photos?

I applied the Velvia Fujifilm film simulation. That gave the red spider lilies a little more pop. It did make them look more vivid. Other Lightroom adjustments were minimal.

Red spider lily description

  • Red spider lilies have narrow leaves which curve backward and long projecting stamens. It is easy to see how they got their name.
  • In most photos, these flowers appear a vivid red. In real life, they look less so. I daresay many photographers turn the saturation and vibrance up. As I get more experience with them, this comment might change!
  • They appear in early autumn.

Notes about the Nature Observation Garden

  • Keep on the raised walkway.
  • Tripods, easels, and monopods aren’t allowed.

A brief history of red spider lilies in Japan

  • The Japanese name for them is higanbana (彼岸花). It means “flower of higan.” Higan is a Buddhist holiday around the autumnal equinox. It’s a time when people return to their hometowns to visit their ancestors’ graves.  And that is why you don’t give anyone a bouquet of these flowers!
  • The bulbs of the plants are poisonous, so they are used to keep pests and mice away from rice paddies and houses. 
  • They were associated with Japanese Christian martyrs in the medieval period. The lilies marked their places of martyrdom.
  • A legend says these flowers bloom when you see someone you won’t meet again.  
  • Red spider lilies seem to be associated with many sad things. Maybe that is why they were once used at funerals in Japan.

Wrapping up

The red spider lilies were beautiful for my visit. They were in perfect condition. I couldn’t have asked for anything better. Well, if I had remembered to take my extension tubes, that would have been nice.

There are some other places in the Kanto area for the lilies. One day, I will see them. That might be in 2022, maybe 2023. Anyway, more pictures will be here one day.

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