January 29, 2022 2:15 pm


The legend of the moss in Japan

People often refer to them as plants, houseplants, or pets, but this isn't accurate. Marimo moss balls are actually an algae that lives in lakes and are found growing in large sphere clusters only in Japan's Lake Akan and Iceland's Lake Mývatn.

Lake Akan Japan

The fascinating and unique velvety marimo moss ball was initially discovered in Japan by Japanese botanist, Tatsuhiko Kawakami. Here is the story of these special green balls of algae.

Green moss Ball

It is said that Senato, one of the beautiful young daughters of the tribal chief, met a hunter, Manibe, while foraging for food beside Lake Akanin in Hokkaido, Japan. After meeting each other, the two of them gave Marimo Moss balls as gifts to each other and kept their love a secret for as long as they could. As Senato's sadness grew, they confronted her father with their love. Neither of them received his blessing, and they were asked to keep their distance from each other. They instead ran away together to make sure they could stay together forever.

According to the legend, people who nourish moss balls with love and patience will receive luck, love and happiness in return.

Moss Ball in terrarium with white gravel

The History of Moss Balls

Marimo is a Japanese word that means 'ball algae'. Marimos were discovered in 1898 by the Japanese botanist, Tatsuhiko Kawakami in Lake Akan, Japan. The popularity of Marimo moss balls began to flourish in Japan in the 1920s, becoming a national treasure. This almost led to the extinction of the Marimo Moss ball.

Here is a short video of lake Akan:

In 1950, the city of Akan-cho in Kushiro held the first the homecoming festival. 48 Japanese people sent their Marimo moss balls back to the lake in an amazing act of kindness. This festival is held every year in October and lasts for three days. Each year, the festival takes place in the main hot spring district of Lake Akan, and festival goers can take part in the Torch Procession. If you're lucky enough to be in the town, you'll be able to experience the Ainu people singing folk songs while carrying torches. There are also tribal dances from various regions, including the grasshopper dance, crane dance, and sword dance to name a few.

Lake Akan

The return of Marimo moss balls on the last day of the festival is marked by saying a prayer called Kamuinomi to the Ainu spirits. The elders then row across the lake to the moss balls' natural habitat and deposit the balls back in the lake; and so concludes the festival.

Marimo moss balls on the beach

Initialy created in 1978, the local government of Akan Town re-opened the Marimo Exhibition and Observation Centre in 1996 after extensive renovation. With its new facilities, the centre now promotes the Marimo's environmental and scientific importance, as well as research into its protection and propagation.

How long do Moss Balls live?

Marimo Moss Balls can live up to 200 years in the right condition and are very easy to look after, simply check our marimo ball care blog post for more information.

Marimo Moss Balls are also known as:

  • Moss Balls

  • Aegagropila Linnaei

  • Cladophora Balls

  • Lake Balls

  • Luffy Balls

  • Marimo Moss Ball Pets

Where can I buy my Marimo moss ball from?

You can buy your very own ethically sourced Marimo Moss Ball here in our Botanica Verde shop. If you want to know more about Marimo moss balls, please visit our blog for more interesting tips and facts. You can also try our Moss Ball name generator to give a new life to your Marimo pet.

Marimo Moss Ball Terrarium Jar display

Have some fun and test your Marimo moss balls knowledge with our fun quiz.

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