June 30, 2011

A Jizo-Bosatsu statue in Tokei-ji

The violet Iwatabako flowers, which are clustering around this little stone image of Jizo-bosatsu, have just passed their best and have begun to fall one by one as if to realize the end of their prime season.

A bunch of pale blue flowers of Ajisai is offered to this guardian deity to silently pray him for his perpetual and infinite mercy to us.

In this quiet and beautiful scene, I find one of the most unforgettable moments of wonder, which is brought by the exquisite harmony of the four elements of this garden in this passing season of rain.

Fallen Iwatabako (Conandron ramondioides) flowers in Tokei-ji

I found the small starry flowers of Iwatabako lying scattered on the moss-covered rock like the bright violet falling stars which had just arrived on this emerald green garden.

A Suiren (water lily) flower in Tsurugaoka-hachimangu

At long last, the white flowers of waterlily have just begun to blossom as if trying to avoid being seen on the shadowy water surface thickly covered by forest green leaves.

Soon a blistering mid summer will arrive on this pond and enormous magnificent flowers of sacred lotus will start blooming one after another vigorously and thickly on the sunlit surface of the water.

The elegant flowers of waterlily will continue blooming quietly in this inconspicuous corner with indifference to the dazzling sun of high summer.

Ajisai (hydrangea) flowers in Kencho-ji

A bamboo grove in Jochi-ji

The glorious sight of an evergreen bamboo grove always inspires feelings of awe in those who see it.

It is generally said that bamboo is one of the plants having the strongest force of growth in the plant kingdom. Its stem can grow one meter or more in height each day during its peak season of growth and get 7-8 meters high in one year after its sprouting. The life of a bamboo tree is said to be about 8-10 years.

A bamboo grove, which is apparently made up of hundreds of trees, is actually an individual bamboo tree. Such a grove has grown from the numberless roots diverged from one original bamboo tree.

Gaku-ajisai (Hydrangea macrophylla) flowers in Kaizo-ji

Ajisai (hydrangea) flowers in Kencho-ji

Gaku-ajisai (Hydrangea macrophylla) flowers in Kencho-ji

Gaku-ajisai (Hydrangea macrophylla) flowers in Kencho-ji

June 24, 2011

Ajisai (hydrangea) flowers in Eisho-ji

The gentle rain of this season falls to tenderly take care of Ajisai flowers.

Numerous Ajisai flowers of various colors are blossoming in full glory throughout Kita-kamakura and reigning over the grayness of this rainy season with their compelling charms.

Soon high summer arrives here with its dazzling deep blue sky. The beauty and glory of Ajisai, which are the kindly fruits of the clouded watery sky, will quietly disappear from view as if nothing had happened just like an overnight pleasant dream.

Ajisai (hydrangea) flowers in Kencho-ji

The flowers of Ajisai, which are turning color from green into blue by subtle gradations, are quietly blooming beside the deep bamboo grove behind this old temple.

It is generally said that the Japanese name "Ajisai" originates from "Azu" (group) and "Sa-ai" (blue flower) and means "a group of blue flowers."

Suiren (water lily) flowers in Kaizo-ji

The pale yellow flowers of Suiren are blooming peacefully on the calm surface of the garden pond.

The air of tranquility, which is floating in this quiet garden, are rippling the water very slightly.

Gaku-ajisai (Hydrangea macrophylla) flowers in Kaizo-ji

Gaku-ajisai (Hydrangea macrophylla) flowers in Engaku-ji

A Nyoirinkannon-Bosatsu statue in the garden of Engaku-ji

The temple-bell-shaped flowers of Hotaru-bukuro (Campanula punctata) are blooming modestly by the side of the aged stone image of Nyoirinkannon-bosatsu in the quiet green garden.

Hotaru-bukuro means "a firefly bag" and its flower is one of the typical flowers of this rainy season when fireflies glow in the night.

The characteristic posture of Nyoirinkannon-bosatsu, in which he rests a cheek on a hand, represents his infinite merciful thinking for the ultimate salvation of all living things.

Gaku-ajisai (Hydrangea macrophylla) flowers in Engaku-ji

Long after a rainfall, raindrops are lovingly lingering on these flowers to continue lustering to the gorgeous violet hues of them.

Ajisai flowers are sure to be favored by this season of rain.

June 21, 2011

Ajisai (hydrangea) flowers in Kencho-ji

The more the gentle rain falls on Ajisai flowers, the more brilliantly they change their appearance.

The flower of Ajisai, which must be a seasonal precious gift from the gray rainy sky, continues to vigorously bloom and to beautifully metamorphose in color and form in the gardens of rain.

Nature never fails to give us great joy at every season of the year.

Gaku-ajisai (Hydrangea macrophylla) flowers in Jochi-ji

Ajisai (hydrangea) flowers in Engaku-ji

Ajisai flowers have begun to turn magenta in front of the Kara-mon (Chinese-style gate).

The bright colors of these flowers are sparkling softly in the deep stillness of this garden like the clear sound of a rin-gong which is heard from the interior of this temple.

An Oomizuao (Actias artemis) moth in Engaku-ji

The "Oomizuao" moon moth (female), which seems to have just hatched out from her cocoon, is staying quietly in the shade to prepare for her maiden flight.

The Japanese name "Oomizuao" of this beautiful moon moth means "great azure."

When the darkness falls, this blue-green moth will rise up into the night sky twinkling like the pale moon to fulfill her own destiny.

Gaku-ajisai (Hydrangea macrophylla) flowers in Engaku-ji

Ajisai (hydrangea) flowers in Engaku-ji

Gaku-ajisai (Hydrangea macrophylla) flowers in Engaku-ji

June 15, 2011

Hana-shobu (Iris sanguinea) flowers in Meigetsu-in

Hana-shobu flowers are at best just now and are gracefully ornamenting the deep green gardens of early summer with their royal purple petals and dark sword-like leaves under the calm rainy sky.

Only the constant wetness of this particular season can make it possible for such watery and majestic flowers to blossom so dignifiedly.

Thankfully, these enchanting colors of Hana-shobu confer pure and excellent delights on us in these rainy melancholic days.

In Buddhist's culture, flowers symbolically represent the infinite mercy and wisdom of Buddha. These noble flowers bring us bountiful blessings very generously.

Hana-shobu (Iris sanguinea) flowers in Meigetsu-in

The beauty of this flower must be derived from the abundant rainwater of this season.

The thick drooping petals of this iris bears plentiful water and the azure of water may create the marvelous tints of purple in combination with the rosy pigments of this flower.

Hana-shobu flowers are the pleasant incarnation of the gentle rain shower in this season.

The Karesansui garden of Meigetsu-in

The lively flowers of Satsuki (Rhododendron indicum) are now in full bloom in the Kare-sansui (dry landscape) garden of this temple.

The subtle charms of these flowers add a magical touch of tasteful elegance to this calm garden which expresses the intellectual world-view of Zen Buddhism.

Hana-shobu (Iris sanguinea) flowers in Meigetsu-in

Ajisai (hydrangea) flowers in Engaku-ji

Ajisai flowers blossom in full glory during this rainy season of early summer called "Tsuyu" (apricot rain) in Japanese. "Tsuyu" means "the rain which falls when the fruits of Ume (Japanese apricot) ripen."

The botanical name "hydrangea" of Ajisai means "a vessel of water" and adequately express the noble attribute of its moist colorful flowers.

This flower of rain changes in color beautifully with the lapse of time. This transformation is called "the seven metamorphoses of the hydrangea flower."

I wonder how brilliantly these newborn plain flowers will grow up soon.

Hana-shobu (Iris sanguinea) flowers in Meigetsu-in

The Karesansui garden of Meigetsu-in

Iwatabako (Conandron ramondioides) flowers in Meigetsu-in

Gaku-ajisai (Hydrangea macrophylla) flowers in Engaku-ji

In Japan, Ajisai is also called "Shichi-henge." This name means "the seven metamorphoses" because its flower (actually, its calyx) continuously and quickly metamorphoses in color and shape .

The word "Shichi-henge" is derived from the name of the classical Kabuki dance drama in which a sole actor quickly changes his clothes seven times during continuously performing seven different dances on the stage. In Japan, this word is traditionally used to express the quick and continuous transformation.

The flower (calyx) of Ajisai assumes light yellowish green just after coming into bloom because this calyx contains chlorophyll. Soon this green pigment is gradually decomposed with the growth of the calyx and, instead of it, anthocyan (red, blue or purple pigment) continues to be compounded in the calyx to color it red, blue or purple toward its height of beauty.

After passing the peak of bloom, this colorful pigment begins to be decomposed. The calyx loses its vivid color and becomes increasingly faint and dull in color to the last of its short life.

Hana-shobu (Iris sanguinea) flowers in Engaku-ji

Yama-boushi (Benthamidia japonica) flowers in Tokei-ji

June 11, 2011

Hana-shobu (Iris sanguinea) flowers in Tokei-ji

The long spell of rainy weather in early summer has begun deliberately and the delicate flowers which have waited for this rich moist season are starting to bloom elegantly all at once under the overcast sky.

Plants get sprinkled with the blessed rain and absorb the rainwater to grow vigorously. Insects emerge abundantly and simultaneously from the watery dense growth of trees and shrubs. Birds lively flit from tree to tree twittering merry songs to seek for insects just after every rainfall.

The flowers of iris, which are clothed in purple satin petals, must be the noble daughters of the merciful rain of this season.

Iwatabako (Conandron ramondioides) flowers in Tokei-ji

The purple pentagram flowers of Iwatabako are appearing one after another from between its robust green leaves on the steep rock surface as if to genuinely welcome the expected arrival of the rainy season.

This mystic flower is very small (about 2cm in diameter) and so sensitive to moisture that it can shrivel with a loss of water in a short time.

I feel that these enigmatic flowers may be silently talking with each other about the secrets of our universe of which we are entirely unaware.

Ajisai (hydrangea) flowers in Meigetsu-in

The French ultramarine blue of Ajisai is one of the most precious and delightful gifts from this rainy season.

Ajisai (hydrangea) flowers in Meigetsu-in

Gaku-ajisai (Hydrangea macrophylla) flowers in Tokei-ji

The waterlily pond of Matsue English Garden

During my short tour of Shimane Prefecture (Japan), I visited Matsue English Garden by Lake Shinji, which is designed by a renowned British garden designer.

This beautiful waterlily pond immediately reminded me of the paintings of Claude Monet.

In the brightly shining sun of early summer by the lake, it seemed to me that the glistening flowers and leaves of waterlily on the smooth surface of water showed me the splendor of life which Monet kept pursing in his painting.

(This photograph was taken with Nikon COOLPIX P7000.)

The waterlily pond of Matsue English Garden

I saw a black-spotted pond frog quietly lurking in the flower of waterlily and a golden ringed dragonfly slowly gliding around above the reflecting surface of water.

Time was standing still in the sparkling sun by the magic spell of this peaceful and calm water.

The Kara-mon (Chinese-style gate) of Kencho-ji

The glassy black lacquer and the gilt bronze ornaments of the Kara-mon were magnificently shining before my eyes in the slightly declined sun of the late afternoon.

This Kara-mon (Chinese-style gate) was recently restored as it was when built in the 17th century to reestablish the ancient glory of this old temple.

Kashiwaba-ajisai (Hydrangea quercifolia) flowers in Tokei-ji

Ajisai (hydrangea) flowers in Engaku-ji

June 2, 2011

A water lily flower in my garden

A Suiren (water lily) flower has just bloomed on the calm surface of the water in my garden to tell me the steady approach of that dazzling summer.

For three days, the floating flower of water lily repeats its opening in the morning and closing early in the evening according to the temperature change of a day until its short brilliant life comes to end.

The name "Sui-ren" means "lotus which sleeps" because its flower seems to wake up in the morning and fall asleep in the evening.

I am wondering if this flower dreams a sweet dream in its peaceful sleep on the water.

The bamboo grove of Kencho-ji

Aosuji-ageha (Graphium sarpedon) butterflies in Kencho-ji

Beneath the bright sun of early June, newly hatched butterflies are absorbedly flying around fragrant flowers to fulfill the meaning of their lives completely.

A female butterfly flits from flower to flower to suck nectar for producing offspring and a male butterfly enthusiastically chases after her for hurried courtship.

The never-ending story of seasons is continuing secretly in the garden of Zen in this way.

Ajisai (hydrangea) flowers in Kencho-ji

Iwatabako (Conandron ramondioides) flowers in Kencho-ji

The tiny and delicate flowers of Iwatabako are beginning to bloom on the shady rock face.

This little purple flower (about 2cm in diameter) is notable as the flower of June in Kita-kamakura as well as a colorful flower of Ajisai (hydrangea).

"Iwa-tabako" means "rock tobacco" because its leaves look like those of tobacco plants and grows on rock surface.