April 26, 2010

A Genge (Astragalus sinicus) flower in Jochi-ji temple

I looked down on a small cyclic flower of Genge (or Rengeso) and found that its exquisite shape looked like the elegant crystal form of snow.

The subtle shape shared by this flower and snow crystals may imply the omnipresence of the transcendent law in which the beauties of nature originate.

Like an answerless riddle for Zen meditation, flowers always awake us to the enchanting mysteries of our universe.

Shakunage (rhododendron) flowers in Tokei-ji temple

A Tsubaki (camellia) flower in Tokei-ji temple

In the middle of winter when almost all other flowers disappear from view, Tsubaki flowers bloom flourishingly one after another and soothe our winter blues under the wintry gloomy sky.

Although spring has already been past its prime now, this crimson flower of winter is quietly blossoming as if to love solitude in the fresh green and to bid us a fond farewell.

Fresh leaves of maple in Tokei-ji temple

Under the clear and bright sky, just after a weeklong heavy rainfall, I visited the garden of this serene temple.

The brilliant fresh green of maple cleansed by the harsh rain dazzled me with its splendor and silent rapture.

I had a feeling that all the plants and trees in this garden were heartily rejoicing in the precious deep blue sky in the similar way to me.

Seiyo-jyunihitoe (Ajuga reptans) flowers in Tokei-ji temple

Shakunage (rhododendron) flowers in Engaku-ji temple

Fresh leaves of maple in Engaku-ji temple

A Botan (peony) flower in Engaku-ji temple

This full-blown flower of Botan (peony) appeared to be proudly exhibiting its supreme beauty and glory as the flower of flowers.

Yaezakura (Prunus lannesiana) blossoms in Engaku-ji temple

Shakunage (rhododendron) flowers in Engaku-ji temple

Tsurigane-suisen (Scilla hispanica) flowers in Engaku-ji temple

Fresh leaves of maple in Engaku-ji temple

April 18, 2010

Shaga (Iris japonica) flower in Jochi-ji temple

I took a walk in the garden of Jyochi-ji during a short break in the capricious spring rain.

In the grassy places, I found many dainty flowers like this blossoming in a calm and leisurely manner as if nothing had happened despite the harsh and bad weather of this spring.

Genge (Astragalus sinicus) flowers in Jochi-ji temple

In Japan, Genge is also known as Renge-so, which means "a lotus-flower plant" because this plant bears a cyclic flower which resembles a sacred lotus flower in shape.

This small flower might be a tiny lotus pedestal for an invisible deity that is hiding somewhere in this quiet garden.

Shidare-ume (weeping plum) blossoms in Tokei-ji temple

Hana-kaido (Malus halliana) flowers in Engaku-ji temple

Sakura blossoms in Engaku-ji temple

Although spring ought be at its height about this time of year, we have a prolonged spell of cold and harsh weather as if winter had mistakenly turned back again.

In the rainy garden of Engaku-ji, the snow-white blossoms of Sakura are elegantly enduring the cruel and cold weather without being scattered in the ruthless rain and wind.

It is certain that they know when they are destined to blossom and fall.

Sakura blossoms in Engaku-ji temple

Sakura blossoms in Engaku-ji temple

Yamabuki (Kerria japonica) flowers in Engaku-ji temple

Yama-zakura (Prunus jamasakura) blossoms in Genji-yama park

April 8, 2010

The gilded statue of newborn Buddha at "Hana-matsuri" festival in Tokei-ji temple

The 8th day of April is traditionally considered to be Buddha's Birthday by the Buddhists of Japan. On this day, in order to cerebrate this sacred birthday, every Buddhist temple in Japan holds "Kanbutsue" (bathing Buddha festival) which is also known as "Hana-matsuri" (flower festival).

Right after his birth, Buddha stepped seven paces and declared, pointing his right hand toward heaven and his left hand toward earth, "I am my own Lord throughout heaven and earth. This realm of desire-driven beings is full of agonies and distresses. I was born for relieving all living things from these agonies and distresses."

A basin filled with sweet tea is placed in a small wooden altar beautifully decorated with various flowers. The tiny statue of newborn Buddha stands in the center of this basin.

The altar symbolizes the Lumbini village which is the birthplace of Buddha. The sweet tea represents the blessed rain which the nine sacred dragons of heaven sent to Buddha for bathing him.

The small ladles put in the basin are used by priests and worshipers to ladle up the sweet tea and to bathe the newborn baby in celebration of his birth at the ceremony.

A Shaga (Iris japonica) flower in Jochi-ji temple

Although a "Shaga" flower is fairly familiar in Kita-kamakura of mid-spring, it impresses me with its delicate and exquisite figure every time I see it.

"Shaga" means "a fan made of Japanese cypress slats" which was used by nobles at the Imperial Court. This flower is also called Kocho-bana, which means a butterfly-flower.

Zen priests celebrating Hana-matsuri (Buddha's birthday festival) in Jochi-ji temple

The priests wearing a beautiful "Kesa" (robe) were standing still and meditatively in the sun after chanting the Wisdom Sutras for celebrating the birth of Buddha.

A petal of Sakura on the leaf in Jochi-ji temple

On the leaf of Shokassai, a fallen petal of Sakura was quietly waiting for the next gentle breeze which would carry it to somewhere.

"Keko" flower-baskets in Jochi-ji temple

In the tradition of Buddhist services, flowers are scattered around by priests in order to purify the place of ceremony and to glorify Buddha.

According to Buddhist scriptures, flowers were coming down from heaven while Buddha was preaching.

These "Keko" (flower baskets) were used to scatter lotus-petal-shaped paper slips by the priests during the bathing Buddha festival.

On the gilded surface of this basket, lotus flowers and leaves are beautifully embossed.

A Nirinso (Anemone flaccida) flower in Jochi-ji temple

A small and modest flower like this always opens my eyes to the preciousness and beauty of life on the earth.

Hana-kaido (Malus halliana) flowers in Jochi-ji temple

A Nihon-kanahebi (Takydromus tachydromoides) lizard in Jochi-ji temple

A Nihon-kanahebi lizard was dreamily drowsing in a warm corner of the garden just after its waking from tedious hibernation.

Sakura blossoms in Engaku-ji temple

After the misty rain, the full-blown blossoms of Sakura were floating in the air like a series of quiescent white clouds.

Shidare-ume (weeping plum) blossoms in Tokei-ji temple

Yama-zakura (Prunus jamasakura) blossoms in Kita-kamakura

Just after the spring rain, I saw the numerous graceful blossoms of wild cherry creating an elegant mosaic on the hillside of Kita-kamakura under the grayish cloudy sky.

Shidare-zakura (weeping sakura) blossoms in Tokei-ji temple

Yamabuki (Kerria japonica) flowers in Engaku-ji temple

The golden flowers of Yamabuki may tell us that spring is moving into its final stage.

Sakura blossoms in Engaku-ji temple