From September until just a few days ago, visitors to to the temple were greeted by special potted plants at the entrance to Goten. These plants are called fujibakama in Japanese (the scientific name is Eupatorium fortunei), and grow in China and Japan.
Fujibakama make an appearance in the Tale of Genji, a famous novel written in Japan by Murasaki Shikibu during the 11th century. During that time, these plants were a very common sight in Kyoto. In the modern age, however, fujibakama have become an endangered species. In 2007, the Fujibakama Project was started to reintroduce fujibakama to the scenery of Kyoto. While the official project has since come to an end, potted fujibakama are still brought to a variety of locations around the city just in time for the flowers to come into bloom.
The once the fujibakama bloomed, the flowers attracted several varieties of butterflies and were enjoyed by visitors and all of us at the temple, too! I hope to see them at Ninna-ji and around Kyoto again next year!