Chinese Date Plum

(Diospyros kaki) 'Chinese' it was originally - now it can be found both in China and Japan. In a practice reminiscent of the treatment of walnut trees in Europe, (and apple trees - see WASSAILING), Japanese householders at the New Year ceremony, in the custom known as narikizome (torturing the fruit tree), maltreat the Date Plum tree by wounding it slightly with a hatchet. As he does so, he asks, "Fruitful or not?", and a man hiding behind the tree replies, "I'll be fruitful". This, they say, forces the tree to bear abundant fruit (Oto).

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