Album: Atom Miraiha No. 9
2016.09.28 Lingua Sounda/Victor


Manjusaka
Lyrics: Sakurai Atsushii
Music: Hoshino Hidehiko

Now I'm setting off to meet you
Down a lost road with all its travelers gone
Just a single glance alone will do now
Blowing in the wind, a hurricane lily

Even only in the depths of sleep will do
Because it's fine if you forget it all
Just a dream within a dream of an ailing soul
That's why it's fine if you forget it all, everything

Cherry blossoms spitting blood
In the lavender of evening
The poison takes effect
The stench of moldering
Drawing near to a thunderstorm
Sighs turning purple1
Melting the skeleton
The sound of the drops of rain

Your profile illuminated by the lightning
Hazy as a ghostly smile2
Blending deep into the sound of the pouring rain

You know, it doesn't matter
Try murmuring the words
While you choked your voice in silence3
Yet screaming so loud
You know, it doesn't matter
Try murmuring the words
Pretend like you don't hear it
Pretend that you don't know

Your profile illuminated by the lightning
Hazy as a ghostly smile
Blending deep into the sound of the pouring rain

You know, it doesn't matter
Try murmuring the words
While you choked your voice in silence
Yet screaming so loud
You know, it doesn't matter
Try murmuring the words
Pretend like you don't hear it
Pretend that you don't know
You know, it doesn't matter
I'm sure it will be all right

You know, it doesn't matter
I'm sure it will be all right

Now I'm setting off to meet you
Down a lost road with all its travelers gone
Just a single glance alone will do now
Blowing in the wind, a hurricane lily

Note: "Manjusaka" is the Chinese name for Lycoris radiata, commonly called the cluster amaryllis, hurricane lily, or red spider lily in English, and usually called higanbana in Japanese. A member of the amaryllis family, the manjusaka is native to China, but a triploid hybrid form was brought to Japan in ancient times. Since the triploid hybrid form is sterile, the Japanese manjusaka cannot reproduce through cross-pollination - instead, it must be cloned through bulb division. For those of you not into botany, what that means is that all the manjusaka in Japan were deliberately planted. Though the red flowers are very beautiful, manjusaka were cultivated in Japan for more than their beauty - the bulbs are extremely poisonous, so the flowers were planted in great numbers around rice paddies and in graveyards prior to the advent of cremation, to keep mice and voles from eating crops and dead bodies alike.

Japan usually experiences heavy rains in early September, and the manjusaka emerge at the autumn equinox, because the bulbs can only bloom after heavy watering during cool weather. In Japan, the autumn equinox is also the Buddhist holiday Ohigan. Thus, in Japanese, manjusaka are known as higanbana. Ohigan literally translates as "the other shore," meaning what follows after death. During Ohigan, many ceremonies are held at temples, and families clean the graves of departed loved ones. Ohigan is a time of atonement, spiritual cleansing, and soul-searching, and is also observed at the spring equinox. However, since the autumn equinox heralds the advent of winter, the manjusaka or higanbana are strongly associated with death, ghosts, and farewells. Though manjusaka blossoms can be white, creamy, or yellow in color, the most common color by far is red-vermilion, which under the moody clouds of Japanese autumn can look very much like splashes of blood amid the blue-green grass, underscoring the death association. The fact that the bulbs are poisonous only adds to the symbolism.

Because of their unusual beauty and dark connotations, the manjusaka/higanbana have been romanticized throughout the Japanese literary tradition, and the flower is said to have 900 names in Japanese, including 幽霊花 (yuureibana, "ghost flower"), 捨子花 (sutegobana, "orphan flower"), 地獄花 (jigokubana, "hell flower"), 死人花 (shibitobana, "dead person flower"), 狐花 (kitsunebana, "fox flower") etc. If Robert Smith named The Cure's album Bloodflowers after the manjusaka/higanbana, it wouldn't be surprising (I'm sure he didn't, but you know, that doesn't matter. And hey, this song takes clear and obvious influence from The Cure, too...this is how conspiracy theories are born.) If the manjusaka/higanbana does in fact have 900 names, there's that magical number 9 again. Conspiracize and theorize away!

Many legends exist about the manjusaka/higanbana. In fact, the name "manjusaka" comes from a Chinese legend about two faeries, Manju and Saka, who were tasked with caring for the manjusaka together. Like other amaryllises, the manjusaka flower emerges first on a lone stalk, while the leaves only emerge after the flower stalk has withered away. Thus, the flower and leaves never meet. Manju, the flower faerie, took care of the flowers, while Saka, the leaf faerie, took care of the leaves. The two were never supposed to meet but somehow, they fell in love anyway, and defied the gods in order to be together. The gods, being gods, quickly found out, and punished Manju and Saka by sundering them forevermore. Thus, the manjusaka came to symbolize final parting - not only by death, but also by destiny. 

A related legend states that a trail of manjusaka will bloom along the path of two lovers as they approach their final meeting with one another. Because of this symbolism, in the Japanese flower language ("hanakotoba"), manjusaka symbolize parting and should therefore never been included in a bouquet sent to a loved one or lover, though the flowers are often used in funerals, for obvious reasons. Bringing the cut flowers into one's home is also said to be bad luck. Since the afterlife in Japanese Buddhism is nothing more than rebirth into the next life, in addition to being symbols of death, the flowers are also symbols of reincarnation.

Sakurai has previously evoked the image of the manjusaka/higanbana in the lyrics to "Tensei" ("And they bloom, the hurricane lilies/Over our corpses") and "Heroin" ("the lotus petal, you bloom at the equinox"). The image of higanbana was also used in the visuals for the third verse of "Yasou" on the Yumemiru Uchuu tour (for information on traditional Japanese seasonal motifs in the lyrics to "Yasou," read this article). Anyhow, it should come as no surprise that Sakurai has worked with higanbana images before, given that they're pretty much the gothiest flowers ancient Japan has to offer. Sakurai is clearly well aware of the legends surrounding the manjusaka/higanbana, seeing as he's made direct reference to both final parting and autumn rains in the lyrics to this song.

1) This is an allusion to the phrase 青息吐息 "aoiki toiki" ("blue sighs"), a poetic term for the sighs of someone in trouble or experiencing great pain.

2) The word here, "kasuka," means "faint" or "hazy," but Sakurai has spelled it with a less common kanji which literally means "ghostly." Incidentally it's also the same kanji as the kanji for 幽霊花 (yuureibana, "ghost flower"), one of the other Japanese names for the manjusaka.

3) This line, "koe wo koroshita mama," literally means "while you kill your voice." The image ties in well with the earlier images of sickness and death and is surely deliberate on Sakurai's part.




曼珠沙華
作詞:櫻井敦司
作曲:星野英彦

今あなたに会いにゆくよ
誰も消えた迷い道
ただ一目だけでいいよ
風に揺れる彼岸花

眠りの中だけでいいよ
忘れてしまえばいいから
病める者の夢の夢さ
忘れてしまえばいいから全部

血を吐く桜 藤色の宵
毒は回り 腐乱の匂い
夕立近く 紫吐息
骨を溶かす 雨粒の音

稲妻が横顔を映す
幽かに微笑んでいるみたい
降りしきる雨音にまぎれ

どうって事ないさ 呟いてみる
声を殺したまま 叫んでいた
どうって事ないさ 呟いてみる
聞こえないふりして 知らん顔して

稲妻が横顔を映す
幽かに微笑んでいるみたい
降りしきる雨音にまぎれ

どうって事ないさ 呟いてみる
声を殺したまま 叫んでいた
どうって事ないさ 呟いてみる
聞こえないふりして 知らん顔して
どうって事ないさ 大丈夫きっと

どうって事ないさ 大丈夫きっと

今あなたに会いにゆくよ
誰も消えた迷い道
ただ一目だけでいいよ
風に揺れる彼岸花



Manjusaka
Lyrics: Sakurai Atsushi
Music: Hoshino Hidehiko

Ima anata ni ai ni yuku yo
Dare mo kieta mayoimichi
Tada hitome dake de ii yo
Kaze ni yureru higanbana

Nemuri no naka dake de ii yo
Wasurete shimaeba ii kara
Yameru mono no yume no yume sa
Wasurete shimaeba ii kara zenbu

Chi wo haku sakura     fujiiro no yoi
Doku wa mawari     furan no nioi
Yuudachi chikaku      murasaki toiki
Hone wo tokasu     amatsubu no oto

Inazuma ga yokogao wo utusu
Kasuka ni hohoendeiru mitai
Furishikiru amaoto ni magire

Doutte koto nai sa     tsubuyaitemiru
Koe wo koroshita mama     sakendeita
Doutte koto nai sa     tsubuyaitemiru
Kikoenai furi shite     shiran kao shite

Inazuma ga yokogao wo utusu
Kasuka ni hohoendeiru mitai
Furishikiru amaoto ni magire

Doutte koto nai sa     tsubuyaitemiru
Koe wo koroshita mama     sakendeita
Doutte koto nai sa     tsubuyaitemiru
Kikoenai furi shite     shiran kao shite
Doutte koto nai sa     daijoubu kitto

Douttte koto nai sa     daijoubu kitto

Ima anata ni ai ni yuku yo
Dare mo kieta mayoimichi
Tada hitome dake de ii yo
Kaze ni yureru higanbana