Lily bulbs and Japan

Willem-Jan van Graas: Japan, the land of the rising sun. Here I am sitting again in the 777 from Amsterdam to Tokyo ready to visit my loyal customers, the Japanese lily bulb importers. My first visit to Japan was some 20 years ago and actually it feels like not much has changed over all these years. One thing that really differs today from ‘the good old days’ is the great decline in lily flower consumption. Off course, the economy had suffered tremendously after the burst of the Japanese asset bubble in the late 80’s early 90’s.. Lily flower bulb sales (for cut flower production to fuel the floral industry) went from around 200 million bulbs some 25 years ago, to about 120 million today. From a Lily perspective you sometimes wonder if the Japanese economy did recover at all, over all these years. Looking purely at the ‘Lily bulb index’ of course. Is it the middleclass still not spending money, people are getting older but not spending money also? The population 25 years ago was about 122 million, today we look at 126 million. The ‘Lily bulb index’ ; does it reveal the thru economical mood and shape of a country? It’s something to think about. This (mostly luxury) flower does indicate something. Or, no, the Japanese people just don’t like Lilies anymore but also other flowers in general as they did in the past (tulip imports have declined also greatly over the past decades). Maybe the advertising and marketing budget to promote the lily flower is insufficient, or the consumer is not reached. The different available florist industry figures however do not indicate a loss of share of lilies compare to other flowers. That’s a relieve, but is it? So there is just less flower consumption, I guess life of the Japanese has moved into a more soberly mood, at least flowerily wise. I do wish them a happy life may lilies and other flowers be a part of this.

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