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There are two different species of hibiscus flowers which are prominent in Japanese culture.

The Hibiscus mutabilis is perhaps the more prominent in mainland Japan; known in Japanese as fuyô 芙蓉, it lends its name to the fuyô no ma (Hall of Hibiscus) of Edo castle and other such complexes.

The Hibiscus rosa-sinensis, meanwhile, has become an unofficial symbol of Okinawa in the postwar period, as Okinawa's tourist industry has consciously catered to tourists' notions of Okinawa as a Hawai'i-like tropical destination. Commonly known simply as akabana 赤花 ("red flower") in Okinawa, it is more formally or traditionally sometimes known as bussôge 仏桑花, and since the 1950s or so has increasingly appeared as a motif on banners, t-shirts, and so forth, as well as on Ryukyuan pottery and lacquerwares where it might never have appeared traditionally.


  • “Shitsugei Maeda Kōin-san: Shurijō ni inochi wo fukikonda shitsugei sakka” 漆芸前田孝允:首里城にいのちを吹き込んだ漆芸作家, Shuri: Ryūkyū no miyako wo aruku 首里:琉球の都をあるく, Momoto special issue 別冊モモト, Itoman: Tōyō kikaku (2013/8), 27.
  • Gerald Figal, "Between War and Tropics: Heritage Tourism in Postwar Okinawa," The Public Historian 30:2 (2008), 83-107.