“In the bindweed flower On Takamado Moor I see my darling’s face. And how could I forget?”
By Otomo Yakamochi, in the eighth-century poetry anthology, “Manyoshu.” From “Japanese Verse” (Penguin Books)
Hirugao, or “noon faces” are dainty pink and white bindweed flowers that close at dusk. Despite its delicate blooms, this is a tenacious plant. It twines readily around stalks of long grass, snakes through short turf and even clambers over sand. Failing other means of support, two plants will often cling to each other, and this sight may also have prompted the courtier-poet to think of his love. Like the morning glory, the short-lived flowers appear in quick succession through the summer months.