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Marimo: Legend, Symbolism, Spirituality

What is marimo?
Cladophora aegagropila are more commonly known as Marimo moss balls. The name “Marimo” was bestowed by a Japanese botanist -Tatsuhiko Kawakami in 1898. The name, however, is somewhat of a misnomer as ‘mari’ means ball and ‘mo’ means algae in Japanese. Due to the negative implications of the term ‘algae, ‘these balls are usually referred to as moss even though they are formed by strings of algae rolled together to form a ball.

Marimo legend
Legend has it that long ago the daughter of a chief from a tribe living near Lake Akan in Japan fell in love with a commoner. When her parents opposed the union, the couple ran away but tragically fell into the lake and sunk to the bottom. According to the myth, it was here that they turned into Marimo moss balls and why this plant is now known as a token of love, affection and good luck. Considered a national treasure in Japan, they are called “love plants.” When given as a gift, they are purported to help accomplish the heart’s desires.

Symbolism
Marimo have become a popular “love plant” gift, said to recognize true love. Marimo are gifted to the person with whom the giver hopes to spend the rest of their lives.

Mythology
Pekanbe (a water caltrop) was so enraged after the deity of Lake Akan exiled him because he thought Pekanbe would pollute it. He yanked the grass and threw it into the lake, cursing it: “Become an alga and pollute the lake!”
In the tragic romantic version, an Ainu girl drowned herself in the lake after her love drowned in it. They were transformed into marimo.

Ainu spirituality
The Ainu people do not pass down any stories about marimo. However, they consider marimo a symbol of nature.
Appreciation toward nature is a real Ainu spiritual value. In the 1940s, recognizing that marimo was severely endangered, the local people launched a campaign to protect the plant, one of which continues to this day, the Marimo Festival which originated in 1950. Held every October, when the autumn leaves on the lakeshores are at their best, the three-day festival is led by the local Ainu people, and culminates on the third day with a ritual in which a senior Ainu on board a small wooden boat returns the marimo one by one, carefully and thankfully, into the lake.

How to take care a Marimo moss ball
Marimo Moss Balls are low maintenance.
1. Ensure that they are only exposed to minimal sunlight.
2. Ensure that the water temperature is not high if you place them in a fish bowl.
3. Rinse and wash them at least once a week.
4. Turn the Marimo Moss Ball every now and then to keep them round

Other interesting facts
• Marimo Balls have long life. They can last for decades with proper care and maintenance.You can place a beta fish with a Marimo moss ball together.

Sources:
https://mossballpets.com/blogs/news/the-legend-of-your-mossball-pet
https://melsmarimo.tumblr.com/post/118373447769/marimo-legend-symbolism-spirituality
https://www.mossball.com/a-brief-history-of-the-marimo-and-some-fun-facts/
https://mossballpets.com/blogs/news/marimo-matsuri-festival-a-celebration-of-conservation

 

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