Kikyo – Japanese Bellflower – is a vivid purple, five petal flower and native flower to South East Asian countries like Japan, China and Korea. Kikyo is often used as patterns in Kimonos and Obi, a belt for Kimonos, and also as family crests. The flower come into bloom in summer and autumn, and it is closely associated with the autumn season in Japanese culture.

Kikyo is very popular plant in Japan and it is considered as one of Japan’s “Seven Flowers of Autumn”. These flowers have been a popular topic in haiku and other Japanese literature as early as during the Nara period (710-794), and already in the Heian period (794-1185) they were very common in the gardens of the aristocracy.

In Japan Kikyo is considered to be a symbol of ‘endless love’ and ‘honesty’, still it carries also other meanings like ‘modesty’ or ‘elegance’, but also certain kind of ‘strength’, ‘obedience’, and even ‘waiting for a friend to return’. When writing this piece, I had also its Finnish name – Jalokello, literally Noble Bell – in my mind.

Kikyo was written for a good friend of mine, pianist Eriko Takahashi, who’ll also give the first performance of this piece in her recital at Joensuu Music Festival in Joensuu, Finland, 11th of July, 2023 .