Lotus. The so-called lotus of this country is really a species of water-lily, the Nelumbium, which inhabits shallow ponds, where fore the Japanese Buddhists compare a virtuous man dwelling in this wicked world to a lotus-flower growing out of the mud. Sir Monier Williams says that "Its constant use as an emblem seems to result from the wheel-like form of the flower,—the petals taking the place of spokes, and thus typifying the doctrine of perpetual cycles of existence." In any case, the connection between the lotus and Buddhism is very close. Buddha is figured standing on a lotus, gold and silver paper lotuses are carried at funerals, tombstones are often set on an inverted lotus-flower of stone as their base, lotus-beds often surround shrines built on islets. Owing to this association with the idea of death the lotus is a flower apart, not sharing in the popularity of the cherry-blossom, the iris, and the chrysanthemum. But this sentimental objection does not exclude its pips and roots from being used as a common article of diet.
Stately and yet tender is the beauty of the lotus-blossom early on a summer's morning—for its petals close before the overpowering heat of the August noonday—while the great bluish-green leaves, studded with water-drops, continue to reflect the sky.