January 24, 2011

A Zen-monk in Engaku-ji


In front of the Shari-den (the hall of Buddha's bone), a solitary trainee monk was walking about at quick pace shouting short passages of a sutra at a brief interval for his practice of Zen meditation.

His deep yells were heard far away like distant thunders in the freezing air of this coldest season.

That moment felt like an eternity.

Dried Ajisai (hydrangea) flowers in Engaku-ji


The dead flowers of Ajisai were bathed in the pale sepia sunlight of the afternoon.

It seemed to me that the merciful sun brightened up them to try to revive the lost beauty of these flowers.

Winter trees in Tokei-ji

Red Ume (Japanese apricot) flowers in Engaku-ji

Mitsumata (Edgeworthia chrysantha)buds in Engaku-ji


The little fuzzy buds of Mitsumata are growing steadily to burst forth in all their beauty in early spring.

In Kita-kamakura, Mitsumata flowers announce the visible arrival of spring first and foremost with their bright yellow color and pleasant perfume.

January 17, 2011

The daytime moon above the grove of Tokei-ji


Above the trees which had dropped all their leaves, the silver-gray moon was shining brightly in the chilly winter sky.

The seasons are turning unceasingly and the moon mirrors and emits light gently like a serene and awakened spirit.

The winter setting sun at Yuiga-hama beach


Under the dark and dense clouds, the golden evening sun was slowly sinking below the horizon.

The intense glow of the setting sun, which seemed to be colossal raging flames, spread like wildfire on the surface of the cold gloomy sea.

Ume (Japanese apricot) flowers in Engaku-ji

Robai (Chimonanthus praecox) tree in Tokei-ji temple


In the quiet garden of Tokei-ji, the fragrant Robai have come into full bloom and the vivid crimson flowers of Ume have finally started to open.

Spring is steadily approaching here step by step.

Maple leaves and bamboo trees in Engaku-ji temple

The ice-covered pond of Engaku-ji


In the declining sun of midwinter, the surface of pond thinly covered in ice appeared to be plated with dimmed gold foil.

Ume (Japanese apricot) flowers in Tokei-ji

January 8, 2011

Fuyu-botan (winter-peony) flowers in Tsurugaoka-hachimangu


The magnificent snow-white flowers of Botan were in bloom nobly beneath the soft winter sun of January.

Thanks to the gentle and sober sunlight, the delicate petals of the flowers appeared to be royal robes made of white fine silk.

In China and Japan, the flower of peony bears the title of "the king of flowers" and is considered as the most auspicious flower.

Winter-peony flowers in Tsurugaoka-hachimangu


Winter-peony flowers are artificially brought flowering forward in cold midwinter by the devoted care of gardeners.

Common peony flowers open in April and May in Japan.

The straw shelter which covers the peony plant is provided to protect it from the cold, wind and snow of this harsh season.

A Tsubaki (camellia) flower in Jochi-ji

Suisen (daffodil) flowers in Jochi-ji

Senryo (Sarcandra glabra) fruits in Jochi-ji

January 1, 2011

A Shaka-nyorai statue decorated with flower arrangement for the New Year in Tokei-ji


I saw the Shaka-nyorai statue decorated with auspicious plants in the serene stillness of the cold winter garden.

I had a deep feeling that, from this image of Buddha, I heard silent merciful prayers for the salvation and happiness of all living things.

Very best wishes for the New Year.

A red Ume (Japanese apricot) flower in Tsurugaoka-hachimangu


Ume flowers bloom beautifully during the coldest period of a year and announce the approaching of spring earlier than any flower.

In the flower language of China and Japan, Ume means nobleness and virtue because its pure and delicate flowers bloom splendidly enduring the intense coldness of winter.

Suisen (daffodil) flowers in Jochi-ji

A Tsubaki (camellia) flower in Engaku-ji

Robai (Chimonanthus praecox) flowers in Kencho-ji


"Robai" means a "waxwork plum" because its flower has bright-yellow waxwork-like petals.

This plant flowers vividly in the coldest period of winter and gratifies the eye in the quiet gardens lacking in flowers and colors.

A white Ume (Japanese apricot) flower in Kencho-ji

A bamboo grove in Kencho-ji


The bamboo grove silhouetted against the slanting sun like a Chinese ink painting.

Bamboo trees sturdily stand upright and persist evergreen withstanding the harsh wind and snow of winter.

In China and Japan, Bamboo is regarded as one of the three auspicious plants (pine, bamboo and apricot) that bring good fortune.

A Sazanka (Camellia sasanqua) flower in Jochi-ji