July 17, 2022

Sacred lotus flower: Ofuna Flower Center (Kamakura)

Sacred lotus flower: Ofuna Flower Center (Kamakura)


The large splendid flowers of sacred lotus are opening one after another and are announcing the arrival of dazzling summer with their gorgeous appearance and pleasant fragrance.

The various gentle flowers, that once bloomed so abundantly during the rainy season gone by, have already vanished into thin air completely, as if they were just the beautiful ephemeral illusions that I had under the gloomy sky.

In Japan, lotus flowers typically begin to bloom around mid-July. A lotus flower ordinarily has 16 petals, numerous short yellow stamens and a rounded yellow pistil. Pollen carried by beetles adheres onto the pistil, causing it to turn from yellow to brown and to bear many seeds.

This flower blooms early in the morning, closes in the evening and opens again the next morning. After repeating this cycle of opening and closing for four days, its elegant flower petals fall off one by one and the short life of the flower ends quietly.



Sacred lotus flowers: Ofuna Flower Center (Kamakura)

Sacred lotus flowers: Ofuna Flower Center (Kamakura)


It is said that, in ancient India, a sacred lotus flower was considered a symbol of good fortune, like purity, dignity, fertility, creativity, prosperity, longevity and so forth, because it stands up straight majestically from the midst of mud and blooms nobly without any dirt. 

When Buddhism emerged, this ancient imagery of lotus flowers was incorporated into Buddhist doctrines, and it has been treated to be the symbol of the supreme spirituality and wisdom of Buddha.

The design of a lotus flower was imported to Japan with the arrival of Buddhism and has been used as the flowery emblem of Buddha in all ritual implements and decorative objects of Buddhist culture, such as Buddhist images, religious ornaments of temples, ritual utensils, sutra scrolls, vestments, reliquary containers and so on.



Sacred lotus flower: Ofuna Flower Center (Kamakura)

Sacred lotus flower: Ofuna Flower Center (Kamakura)


In the Amitabha Sutra which describes the magnificence of the Pure Land (paradise) of Amitabha Nyorai, there is a golden wheel beneath his lotus throne and a pond of treasures under this golden wheel. The pond is covered with lotus flowers of various colors, which give off their heavenly and pure fragrances. The bottom of the pond is covered with golden sand and the places and buildings belonging to the pond are made of gold and cloisonne. 

Around this pond, exquisite music keeps sounding ceaselessly and various beautiful birds sing their songs gracefully. The chirping of the birds, the celestial music, and the sound of water represent the transcendental teachings of Amitabha Nyorai. 

The devout Buddhists, who have passed away and been reborn on the lotus-pedestals in this Pure Land, keep listening to these gracious teachings endlessly to attain supreme enlightenment.


Sacred lotus flower: Ofuna Flower Center (Kamakura)

Sacred lotus flower: Ofuna Flower Center (Kamakura)

 

Sacred lotus flowers: Ofuna Flower Center (Kamakura)

Sacred lotus flowers: Ofuna Flower Center (Kamakura)


In China, the lotus flower is said to appear nobly and purely in muddy water without being soiled by mud, and so it has been called the flower of a wise man who is untainted by worldly affairs. 

Since before the arrival of Buddhism in China in the 1st century, the lotus flower has been regarded as a sacred flower that is not tainted by worldly affairs. It is common to build lotus-ponds in temples, and the lotus flower has also become an essential part of ponds in Chinese-style gardens.

In China, the lotus flower viewing has been practiced since the 6th century. The lotus-viewing festival (Kanrensetsu), that is a day to celebrate the early morning blooming of lotus flowers in the height of summer, has been held by tradition. 

In a full-summer day, at summer resorts, elegant persons gather to enjoy the liquor of Hekitouhai cup while admiring the beautiful lotus flowers which have just bloomed early in the morning.

The Hekitouhai is a cup made from a large lotus leaf, into which liquor is poured and drunk through a cut opening in the stem of the leaf that looks like an elephant's nose. This lotus leaf cup is also called a Zoubihai (elephant's nose cup) because of its shape. 

It is said that the participants of the festival composed the songs and poems about their admiration and adoration for lotus flowers while watching the dewdrops of liquor rolling on the leaf.

This elegant Chinese celebration was introduced to Japan by Japanese scholars of Chinese classics in the Edo period (1603-1867), and it is said that the first lotus-viewing festival was held at Shinobazunoike Pond in Ueno, which was one of the most famous viewing spots of lotus flowers in the city of Edo. 


Sacred lotus flower: Ofuna Flower Center (Kamakura)

Sacred lotus flowers: Ofuna Flower Center (Kamakura)

 

Sacred lotus flowers: Ofuna Flower Center (Kamakura)

Sacred lotus flowers: Ofuna Flower Center (Kamakura)

 

Sacred lotus flowers: Ofuna Flower Center (Kamakura)

Sacred lotus flower: Ofuna Flower Center (Kamakura)

 

Sacred lotus flowers: Ofuna Flower Center (Kamakura)

Sacred lotus flowers: Ofuna Flower Center (Kamakura)

 

Sacred lotus flower: Ofuna Flower Center (Kamakura)

Sacred lotus flower: Ofuna Flower Center (Kamakura)

 

Sacred lotus flower: Ofuna Flower Center (Kamakura)

Sacred lotus flower: Ofuna Flower Center (Kamakura)

 

Sacred lotus flower: Ofuna Flower Center (Kamakura)

Sacred lotus flower: Ofuna Flower Center (Kamakura)

 

Sacred lotus flower: Ofuna Flower Center (Kamakura)

Sacred lotus flower: Ofuna Flower Center (Kamakura)

 

Sacred lotus flower: Ofuna Flower Center (Kamakura)

Sacred lotus flower: Ofuna Flower Center (Kamakura)

 

Sacred lotus flower: Ofuna Flower Center (Kamakura)

Sacred lotus flower: Ofuna Flower Center (Kamakura)

 

Sacred lotus flower: Ofuna Flower Center (Kamakura)

Sacred lotus flower: Ofuna Flower Center (Kamakura)

 

Sacred lotus flower: Ofuna Flower Center (Kamakura)

Sacred lotus flower: Ofuna Flower Center

 

June 30, 2022

Ayame (iris) flowers: Kaizo-ji

Ayame (iris) flowers: Kaizo-ji


Noticing the approach of the rainy season, the dainty flowers of iris, which seem to be made of thin pale silks having purple stripes, are beginning to bloom gracefully in the tranquil garden as if to expect the imminent arrival of merciful summer rains.

The lively chirps of lesser-cuckoo, which are the summer migratory birds having just arrived here from India and China, are heard distantly as the gentle declaration of the seasonal change.

The fragile and watery petals of these silky flowers will dry and droop before the evening of this day, without being able to wait for the quiet rainy night patiently.