February 24, 2011

Ume (Japanese apricot) flowers in Engaku-ji


In the gardens of Zen, the Ume flowers are coming into full bloom and spreading their delicate incense still more.

Soon the warm breezes of spring will begin to blow softly from the east to gently caress the emerging sprouts and buds of plants.

In the tender sunlight, the elegant flowers of Ume are blossoming in full glory as if to be proud of their endurance against the harsh trials of that late winter.

Ume (Japanese apricot) flowers in Engaku-ji

Ume (Japanese apricot) flowers in Engaku-ji

Ume (Japanese apricot) flowers in Jochi-ji

The garden pond of Engaku-ji


The breath of early spring faintly ruffled the water of the pond to awake the living things in it from a long winter sleep.

Ume (Japanese apricot) flowers in Engaku-ji

Ume (Japanese apricot) flowers and a Jizo-bosatsu image in Engaku-ji


The Ume flowers were presented as an offering to the little stone statue of Jizo-bosatsu that was basking in the spring sun.

Jizo-bosatsu is the Buddhist guardian deity of stray travelers and children and is believed to descend into Hell by himself for rescuing them from there.

Ume (Japanese apricot) flowers in Engaku-ji

February 17, 2011

Fukujyu-so (Adonis ramosa) flowers in Engaku-ji


After the unseasonal one-night snow, I found the small flowers of Fukujyu-so blooming inconspicuously in the mild morning sunlight.

”Fukujyu-so” means "the plant of long life and happiness" and its flowers blossom as an early and brilliant forerunner of spring.

The lingering snow, which seemed to be a last trace of winter in the garden, disappeared from view soon in the warmth of the sun.

Stepping stones in Engaku-ji


The remaining snow was gradually melting away on the stepping stones in the small garden adjacent to the teahouse.

The garden pond of Engaku-ji

The Shari-den of Engaku-ji


Snow is called "ten-ge" (celestial flowers) in Buddhist terminology, which means "the flowers that bloom in the celestial world." The paper flowers scattered before the Buddha's image in Buddhist rituals are also called "ten-ge."

The sudden night snow of early spring was quietly scattered like innumerable white petals on the Shari-den (the hall of Buddha's bones) to celebrate the return of the time of rebirth and growth.

Snow and Mitsumata (Edgeworthia chrysantha) buds in Engaku-ji

Ume (Japanese apricot) flowers in Tokei-ji

February 2, 2011

A Ume (Japanese apricot) flower in Kencho-ji


A sign of spring is sensed in the gardens of Zen as the faint fragrance of Ume flowers which floats on a breath of the air.

The bright sunlight begins to come back deliberately between the gloomy clouds and the dull gray sky of winter starts on its retreat evidently.

Plants are anxiously waiting for the arrival of spring to present bouquets to this season of awakening and growing.

The garden of Kencho-ji

A Chozubachi (hand-wash basin) in Engaku-ji


There was a thin sheet of ice on the water surface of the Chozubachi.

In the quiet garden where nobody was present but me, the stream of time was frozen completely.

Ume (Japanese apricot) flowers in Engaku-ji

A Kannon image in Tokei-ji