May 7, 2021

Byakusin (Juniperus chinensis) trees and Botan (Paeonia suffruticosa) flowers: Kencho-ji

Byakusin (Juniperus chinensis) trees and Botan (Paeonia suffruticosa) flowers: Kencho-ji


Along the entrance path leading to the Buddha Hall, a cluster of old Byakushin (Chinese juniper) trees are firmly standing tall, which are over 750 years old and were planted when this Zen temple was built in the 13th century. 

The robust and steady growth of these majestic trees symbolically represents the religious life of a trainee monk who seeks the ultimate wisdom and enlightenment.

The evergreen needle-leaves that twist and rise up like blazing green flames make me sense the strong and ascetic life force of these old trees.

The large brightly-colored flowers of Botan (peony), which are described as the most celebrated spring flower in the Eastern tradition, are blooming by the side of these evergreen trees to attend them like graceful noble ladies.


Botan (Paeonia suffruticosa) flowers: Kencho-ji

Botan (Paeonia suffruticosa) flowers: Kencho-ji


By the quiet slope way to the Zendo hall (meditation hall), the brilliant flowers of Botan (tree peony) are in full bloom as if to reveal their dignity and splendor.

It is said that tree peonies were imported to Japan as a medicinal plant in the Nara period (710-794) at the time of the introduction of Buddhism from the Tang dynasty of China.

In this temple garden, Botan trees are carefully looked after by the "Samu" (routine working in a Zen temple) of "Un-sui" (trainee monks) to offer the precious beauty of the flowers to worship-visitors as an act of charity. 

In the Rinzai Zen school, Samu working is assigned as a way of mental concentration and fundamental spiritual training for the liberation from earthly delusions and desires.



Botan (Paeonia suffruticosa) flowers: Kencho-ji

Botan (Paeonia suffruticosa) flowers: Kencho-ji


D.T. Suzuki, a renowned Buddhist philosopher who introduced the philosophy of Zen Buddhism to the West, spent his last years of busy research life at the ”Matsugaoka Bunko (library)” built within the precincts of Tokei-ji Temple in Kita-Kamakura.

This great Buddhist philosopher dearly loved the magnificent deep-red flowers of Botan (peony) which could be seen through the window of his library every spring.

He is said to highly praise the deep-red peony flowers in the garden of fresh green as the wonderful manifestation of the life force of the earth and to cut off and press the petals of the overblown flowers for the bookmarks between the pages of his sacred Buddhist books.

Bamboo grove and Shaga (Iris japonica) flowers: Kencho-ji

Bamboo grove and Shaga (Iris japonica) flowers: Kencho-ji

 

Botan (Paeonia suffruticosa) flowers: Kencho-ji

Botan (Paeonia suffruticosa) flowers: Kencho-ji

 

Botan (Paeonia suffruticosa) flowers: Kencho-ji

Botan (Paeonia suffruticosa) flowers: Kencho-ji



 

Botan (Paeonia suffruticosa) flowers: Kencho-ji

Botan (Paeonia suffruticosa) flowers: Kencho-ji

 

Botan (Paeonia suffruticosa) flowers: Kencho-ji

Botan (Paeonia suffruticosa) flowers: Kencho-ji

 

Botan (Paeonia suffruticosa) flowers: Kencho-ji

Botan (Paeonia suffruticosa) flowers: Kencho-ji

 

Shakunage (Rhododendron metternichii) flowers and a Momiji (Maple) tree: Kaizo-ji

Shakunage (Rhododendron metternichii) flowers and a Momiji (Maple) tree: Kaizo-ji

 

Yamabuki (Kerria japonica) and Shaga (Iris japonica) flowers: Jochi-ji

Yamabuki (Kerria japonica) and Shaga (Iris japonica) flowers: Jochi-ji

 

Shaga (Iris japonica) flowers: Jochi-ji

Shaga (Iris japonica) flowers: Jochi-ji

 

Tsutsuji (Rhododendron), Shakunage (Rhododendron metternichii) and Yamabuki (Kerria japonica) flowers: Kaizo-ji

Tsutsuji (Rhododendron), Shakunage (Rhododendron metternichii) and Yamabuki (Kerria japonica) flowers: Kaizo-ji

 

Shakunage (Rhododendron metternichii) flowers: Kaizo-ji

Shakunage (Rhododendron metternichii) flowers: Kaizo-ji

 

Tsutsuji (Rhododendron) flowers: Kaizo-ji

Tsutsuji (Rhododendron) flowers: Kaizo-ji

 

Shaga (Iris japonica) flowers: Kita-kamakura

Shaga (Iris japonica) flowers: Kita-kamakura 