The pictures above may not strike you immediately as being particularly significant, which is perhaps a way of saying when I saw the flower above I was not overwhelmed by its significance.
The picture is of an Indonesian titan arum - the flower that famously smells of rotting meat. Hiro & I biked to Koishikawa Shokubutsuen (Koishikawa Botanical Gardens), in Hongo, which is easy biking distance from here with plans for a lazy afternoon. We took a tarpaulin to sit on, brought a book each, (my book of the moment is on the construction of St Peter's Basilica, Hiro's is about soba noodles). Buying a cold noodle picnic lunch on the way there, we were set for the afternoon.
We were puzzled to find massive roped areas for queue making. But it it turned out that this titan arum, had started blooming on the Thursday, three days previous. It was the first time it bloomed since 1991. It was total coincidence being there. We hadn't realised that the day before there were so many people queued to see it that by late afternoon, they were turning people away. For some reason when we got there in the middle of the day on Sunday, there were few people around. I guess people assumed it would be too crowded.
The first photo I took was as we went in. The second I took about an hour later to email to a friend. In the hour spent eating our lunch, the centre part of the flower collapsed, the leaves opened later in the day, apparently emitting the foul meat smell, though we were not there to see it. Had I know it would have been such a short time frame, I might have stuck around to smell it. But what a stroke of good fortune to see it at all :).