Saturday, February 20, 2010
What is Marimo?
Here is the definition I found on wikipedia: Marimo literally means seaweed cone, also known as Cladophora ball or Moss Balls is a species of filamentous green algae found in a number of lakes in the northern hemisphere. A marimo is a rare growth from of the species where the algae grow into large green balls with a velvety appearance.
The plant was named "marimo" by a Japanese botanist Tatsuhiko Kawakami in 1898. Mari is a bouncy play ball and Mo is a generic term for plants that grow in water. The native name in Ainu are torasanpe (lake ghost) and tokarippu (thing that rolls in mud), they are sometimes sold under the name 'Japanese moss balls'.
Marimo colonies in Lake Akan, Hokkaido rank among the strangest plant communities on Earth. The growth rate of Marimo is about 5 mm per year, in lake Akan they grow particularly large, up to 30 cm.
Marimo souvenirs from Hokkaido
Marimo, the most unique souvenirs I got from Hokkaido. I bought two marimo, one is the key ring with fake marimo and the second one is real marimo in a can, I need to 'plant' this marimo in a jar with water, I even bought the 'food' for marimo but unfortunately I haven't got time to 'plant' this Marimo and I left them in my hometown.
There is a Marimo Matsuri in Hokkaido, this unique festival featuring Marimo has developed into a major event of Hokkaido and is even referred to in the following way, " The Sapporo Snow Festival is the champion of festivals in Western Hokkaido and the Marimo Festival is the champion of festivals in Eastern Hokkaido." Both festivals were held for the first time in 1950.
Lake Akanko and marimo are closely associated with the indigenous Ainu people, who lived mainly in Hokkaido, as is this festival. (source: JNTO)