Firefly Lantern ホタルブクロ 蛍袋

Campanula punctata

I’m always excited to spot this flower because I know the fireflies have arrived in the Koyasan area!  Usually late May or early June just before the rainy season.


I always sample a few flowers on my rainy season jaunts.   They are very lightly sweet and quite pleasant.  I don’t recommend the leaves raw as they are a bit hairy and catch in your throat.  Lightly steamed > wonderful!  As always be mindful to check inside the flowers, as bugs love the mild nectar.

The firefly lantern is called “Hotarubukuro” in Japanese.  It is native to Japan and Korea.  The literal translation is “Firefly bag”.  Before the days of electricity people would carry lanterns at night.  The lanterns were nicknamed fireflies.  The English name is Spotted Bell flower or Lantern flower.

The genus name Campanula is from the Italian campana meaning ‘bell’ and refers to the shape of the flowers. The word is from around 1630’s, from Late Latin,campana, originally meant ‘a metal vessel made in Campania,’ the region around Naples. All Campanulas have bell-shaped flowers, although the flower forms vary considerably.
The species name punctata is from the Latin meaning ‘punctuated’ or spotted.
The common name of Spotted bellflower refers to the spots inside the long bells of the species.
Pronounced kam-PAN-yew-lah punk-TAY-tah,

山椒 Sanshō “Japanese Pepper”


Japanese Pepper   Zanthoxylum piperitum

It’s also called “Japanese prickly ash​” and rightfully so! The thorns are serious!

(Photo May 2018 Koyasan)

If you pinch the leaves you get a very pungent smell.  Not peppery to my nose or tongue, what do you think?

I didn’t know until some digging, but Wakayama prefecture is the main area for sanshō  production.  (See Japanese website below)


Yuki no Shita (Under the Snow)

Yuki No Shita 雪の下            Saxifraga stolonifera

Creeping Saxifrage, Strawberry Saxifrage, and Aaron’s Beard mother of thousands”…

It may look pretty similar but, it’s not a begonia or a geranium.

Native to Asia.

I love the leaves on this!  They are supposed to be pretty good as tempura,  really want to try it!  Traditions are slowly fading out.  I asked about 20 Japanese hikers if they’ve ever had it and ZERO had.  They had heard about it but never tried it.  Gotta ask the Obachans and Ojichans!

I’ve seen it a hundred times, but this was my first time to see this magic pink!

Always turn a leaf over and see what “the other side” looks like.

Japanese Mt. Goat カモシカ(氈鹿、羚羊)

Keep your eyes peeled for this wonderfully curious mountain goat.  If you can sneak up on it, it will often give you a real staredown. IF…

I often see it with family grazing on steep cliffs/mountainsides.

It makes a pretty cool and strange call/scream/rasp…

I hope you take a pause now and then when you hike.

It’ll give you a chance to listen and perhaps see this wonderful, at one time protected, cool critter!


Japanese Jay (Eurasian Jay) カケス

カケス Garrulus glandarius Eurasian Jay

Garrulus glandarius brandtii is the Japanese species


This colorful Jay has eluded me for quite some time. Was so happy to finally hang out for awhile.  We said good morning and enjoyed the red pine forest for about 10-15 minutes.  Kinda thought his/her nest must be nearby.  Usually very evasive and long gone by the time I arrive at where I spot them.  This kind Jay seemed curious and at ease.


Apparently this is the original ‘jay’ after which all others are named.


Garrulus is Latin for noisy or chattering, and glandarius is “of acorns”, one of its favorite foods.


Butterbur Fuki No To

Hello Spring!   Yes, it’s time to search for Butterbur!

Lovely edible, but strong flavored “Fuki no To”.(careful on the pronunciation)

Petasites hybridus (also known as Petasites officinalis or Tussilago hybrida).

Butterbur, is an herbaceous perennial flowering plant in the daisy family Asteraceae.  It’s native to Europe and northern Asia.

The flowers are produced in the early spring, before the leaves appear..

The name is from the traditional use of its large leaves to wrap butter in warm weather.

It is also called bog rhubarb, Devil’s hat and pestilence wort.

Winter Tracks Can you guess???

Can you identify these lovely winter tracks?
I found these late Jan early Feb. A few days later had an extra 20 minutes
so zipped up the mountain and did a quick hike. No cell phone service
and didn’t bring the real camera. I found some serious
bear tracks

(meaning large sized bear!). Scary and fun.

Snow is melting fast now.
Even saw a moth the other evening. He surely froze that night.
Soon the only tracks will be after the rains. Spring is on it’s way!



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