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Jun. 8, Sun.*This program was first broadcast on Jul. 5, 2012


Mosses are some of the most primitive terrestrial plants. They have no roots - only leaves and stems. But moss is deeply embedded in the Japanese way of life. You'll even find the word for moss in the Japanese national anthem. It is an essential element of bonsai and of Japanese-style landscape gardens. One temple garden was originally designed as a large bed of white gravel. But war and natural disaster left it in ruins. The garden was neglected for centuries and became overgrown with moss. It took on a new kind of beauty and is one of the most famous and beloved gardens in Japan today. Moss is the home of tiny forest creatures. Water bears and trapdoor spiders are just two of the fascinating creatures that rely on moss.

On this edition of BEGIN Japanology, we look at moss - its remarkable ecology and some of the uniquely Japanese ways of enjoying it.