June 23, 2010

The stone garden of Meigetsu-in temple


Stones are living things in the gardens of Zen.

They are the essential and aesthetic components for expressing the peaceful worldview of Buddhism.

Although they are immovable, they are changeable and continually changing depending on seasons, weather, the lights of the sun and other surroundings.

The stones are always altering their appearances and meanings. They are beautified with fresh green leaves and vivid flowers in spring, shine in the bright sunlight in summer, are blanketed with colorful fallen leaves in autumn and are covered with snow in winter.

They are silently and firmly sitting here and watching over us in this uncertain and transient world like enlightened mentors of Zen.

Hana-shobu (Iris ensata) flowers in Meigetsu-in temple


Ajisai (hydrangea) flowers in Jochi-ji temple

Cabbage white butterflies in Kencho-ji temple


Summer is the best season of reproduction in the dense undergrowth.

Insects are crawling and flying around zealously and wholeheartedly for mating and ovipositting.

These small creatures know their fates and are doing their duties silently and joyously without any waver.

Satsuki (azalea) flowers in Kencho-ji temple

Ajisai (hydrangea) flowers in Kencho-ji temple

Bamboo Grove in Kencho-ji temple

Ajisai (hydrangea) flowers in Kencho-ji temple

Iwatabako (Conandron ramondioides) flowers in Tokei-ji temple


By the side of the statue of Buddha, the pentacle violet flowers of Iwatabako are bashfully showing their small faces from between the dazzling green leaves in the bright sunshine.

This hand gesture (Mudra or "Inzo") of Buddha is called "Yogan-in." This helping hand sign declares his infinite mercy to all living things in this universe and means that he grant the sincere wishes of all living things and save them from suffering.

Iwatabako (Conandron ramondioides) flowers in Tokei-ji temple

Biyou-yanagi (Hypericum monogynum) flowers in Engaku-ji temple

Gaku-ajisai (Hydrangea macrophylla) flowers in Tokei-ji temple


Hana-shobu (Iris ensata) flowers in Tokei-ji temple

Niwa-nanakamado flowers in Tokei-ji temple


June 13, 2010

A Kinshi-bai (Hypericum patulum) flower in Engaku-ji temple


"Kinshi-bai" blossoms in the gray rainy season of summer and its vivid golden flowers and fresh green leaves look brilliant in the gentle rain of June.

The name "Kinshi-bai" means "a plum-like blossom with golden threads" because its flower looks like a five-petalled blossom of plum and the yellow fine stamens of the flower look like the threads of gold.

Zen-monks in Jochi-ji temple


I encountered the group of trainee monks who were walking about briskly for religious mendicancy or "Takuhatsu" in the clear sunlight of June.

Every year, around this time, a group of trainee monks of Engaku-ji visit each of the houses of Kita-kamakura for the spiritual practice of begging as an essential part of the Zen Buddhist training of Rinzai-sect.

They walk around yelling out the word of "Hou-se" which means "we shall preach you the Buddha's teachings" and sincerely chant a sutra in front of a house to pray for the merciful protection of Buddha.

The loud yells of "Hou-se" and the beautiful sutra chants that those monks are uttering can be heard across the hills and valleys of Kita-kamakura like the sound of the enchanting and charitable chorus dedicated to all living things in this universe.

Ajisai (hydrangea) flowers in Engaku-ji temple


Hana-shobu (Iris ensata) flowers in Tokei-ji temple



Kashiwaba-ajisai (Hydrangea quercifolia) flowers in Tokei-ji temple


Iwatabako (Conandron ramondioides) flowers in Tokei-ji temple


Although the weather in this early summer was unsettled, the delicate violet flowers of Iwatabako have bravely risen up from the moist rock surface and come into bloom in the garden of Tokei-ji at last.

It seemed to me that these tiny star-shaped flowers were quietly talking to me about the beauty of the universe to which they belonged.

Iwatabako (Conandron ramondioides) flowers in Tokei-ji temple


The beam of gentle sunshine passing through trees was softly lighting up the newly blown flowers of Iwatabako as if to treat them tenderly.

Ajisai (hydrangea) flowers in Engaku-ji temple


Raindrops on the leaves in Engaku-ji temple


After the misty rain, I saw the raindrops left behind on the leaves sparkling like crystal in the pale sunlight.

A Kannon image in Engaku-ji temple


The quiescent and mysterious smile on the face of this weathered stone-image reminded me of the infinite compassion of Buddha on all living things that are born and fated to suffer.

A pond in the garden of Engaku-ji


In this peaceful garden, time never goes by. Every moment seems to last eternally.

Sobana (Adenophora remotiflora) flowers in Engaku-ji temple


Ajisai (hydrangea) flowers in Engaku-ji temple


Shari-den in Engaku-ji temple


Ajisai (hydrangea) flowers in Engaku-ji temple


June 7, 2010

Kitateha (Polygonia c-aureum) butterfly in Jochi-ji temple


In the bright sunlight from the clear summer sky, I saw a small butterfly flitting absorbedly from flower to flower to seek floral nectar as if to enjoy its brief life to the utmost.

I had a fantasy that I could perceive the beautiful world it saw and the sweet floral aromas it smelled. I clearly sensed the ecstatic joy of living that the butterfly felt flying around freely in the cheerful sunshine.

In summers, butterflies fly about ecstatically and freely without any doubt and fear in the dazzling light of the sun.

Fuyou (Hibiscus mutabilis) flowers along wayside

Yama-hotarubukuro (Campanula punctata) flowers in Jochi-ji temple

The Japanese name of "Yama-hotarubukuro" means "a mountain firefly-pouch."

It is said that, in the old days, a glowing firefly was caught and put into this pouch-like flower and children played with this flower as a toy paper lantern in the evening.

Every evening at this time of year, I can see many fireflies floating around winking their faint white light as a sign of deepening summer in the narrow streams of Kita-kamakura.

White lace-flowers (Ammi majus) along wayside

A spider web in the garden of Tokei-ji temple


A butterfly is flying around among flowers and a spider is spinning a web between branches. Summer is steadily progressing as always.

Ajisai (hydrangea) flowers in Engaku-ji temple


The gradational Persian blue of this flower made me think of the beautiful Ukiyo-es of Katsushika Hokusai.

Various picturesque flowers of hydrangea are beginning to bloom vividly all over Kita-kamakura and foretelling the arrival of the rainy season just before midsummer.

An Aosuji-ageha (Graphium sarpedon) butterfly in Jochi-ji temple


A Aosuji-ageha (common bluebottle or Graphium sarpedon) butterfly was busily flying about and sucking nectar from the small vivid flowers of Mushitori-nadeshiko (garden catchfly or Silene armeria).

The Japanese name of this plant means "insect-catching gillyflower." This plant secretes sticky liquid from its stems to attract insects and makes insects to stick to the stems although this plant is not insectivorous.

Iwagarami (Schizophragma hydrangeoids) flowers in Tokei-ji temple

The flower buds of Iwatabako in Tokei-ji temple


The small flower buds of Iwatabako have begun to turn violet. Soon they will come into flower in concert and remind us of the approaching of summer rainy season.

Sarashina-shouma (Cimicifuga simplex) flowers in Engaku-ji temple

Gaku-ajisai (Hydrangea macrophylla) flowers in Engaku-ji temple

Ivy leaves in Engaku-ji temple

Gaku-ajisai (Hydrangea macrophylla) flowers in Engaku-ji temple

Fallen leaves on the roof tiles in Engaku-ji temple

Gaku-ajisai (Hydrangea macrophylla) flowers in Engaku-ji temple

A Tessen (Clematis) flower in Engaku-ji temple