December 25, 2012

Autumn leaves in Tokei-ji

In the shady grove, the dazzling rays of sunshine falling through the twigs and branches are brightening the deep gold leaves of maple like a galaxy of stars which have just descended into the garden.

The true nature of our universe might secretly present itself as the fleeting beauty of the each passing seasons in this earthly world.

Soon these twinkling leaves will fall and accumulate on the cold ground and begin to decay and change into rich and fertile black earth in the midst of winter.

Autumn leaves in Engaku-ji

The old maple tree which bears numberless colored leaves is towering high beside the steep hill leading to the sub-temple named Oubai-in (Winter Jasmine Temple).

It may be that one day for a tree is one year for a human and that autumn for a tree is the twilight just before sundown.

The flaming colors of autumn leaves resemble the brilliant colors of the sky aglow with the setting sun.

Autumn leaves in Engaku-ji

This gorgeous pattern of yellow-brown leaves with crimson spots reminded me of the elegant design of Chiyogami paper. Chiyogami is Japanese traditional paper for various handicrafts and is colorfully decorated with woodblock-printed pattern.

Autumn leaves in Zuisen-ji

Like the layers of sunset clouds, the beautiful gradation of autumnal colors is floating over the small quiet stream.

Autumn leaves in Engaku-ji

The transient beauty of the vivid leaves is enhanced by the humble dark color of the time-worn temple gate.

Autumn leaves in Tokei-ji

The pale green of the bamboo trees and the tender gold and magenta of the colored leaves are presenting an Impressionistic painting of autumnal tints which pictures this passing season.

Autumn leaves in Engaku-ji

The countless leaves of autumn are overlapping each other and dyeing the chilly air of the garden in gold and scarlet.

Autumn leaves in Tokei-ji

In the quiet garden brightly colored with the autumn leaves, the dark branches of the maple tree are forming graceful curves as if to be drawn in Chinese black ink.

Autumn leaves in Engaku-ji

Across the wall of the Hyaku-Kannon (the one hundred manifestations of the Kannon) garden, the vividly colored leaves are blazing high like a silent pillar of fire.

Autumn leaves in Engaku-ji

Passing under the Sanmon gate (the gate for the three kinds of deliverance) of the temple, suddenly the breathtaking palette of bright autumnal tints quite dazzled my eyes.

December 18, 2012

Autumn leaves in Tokei-ji (Kamakura)

Above the small gate to the Buddha hall, the brightly colored leaves are glowing radiantly in the crisp sunlight of the cool autumn morning.

Here in Kamakura, the season of autumnal tints usually begins late in November and continues until about the middle of December. Fortunately, we can enjoy the gorgeous beauty of autumn leaves slightly longer than in Kyoto.

In this brief beautiful season just before the long bitter winter, the gardens of Zen are ablaze with all kinds of flaming colors wondrously.

Autumn leaves in Zuisen-ji

The silver gray roofs of the Buddha hall and the Jizo shrine are dully shining on the hillside which displays rich autumnal tints. This peaceful view reminds me of a classic Chinese landscape painting.

Autumn leaves and bamboo trees in Eisho-ji

Across the dense bamboo grove, I saw the vivid vermilion of autumn leaves blazing like a surge of flame in the declining afternoon sun.

Autumn leaves in Engaku-ji

The cascades of bright autumnal leaves are overhanging the walkway to the depths of the temple's garden.

In this transient season, the quiet garden path of this old temple is reigned completely with colors of dazzling beauty.

Autumn leaves in Jochi-ji

Over the stone steps up to the bell tower gate, the maple in the garden has begun to turn red.

Autumn leaves in Tokei-ji

The autumn leaves in Kamakura are full of rustic beauty in comparison with the refined elegance of the autumn leaves in Kyoto.

Leaves change colors gorgeously before going off the trees in the cold winds. After the long winter ends, leaf buds appear on the harsh branches and grow into fresh spring leaves in the soft warm sun.

The wheel of life keeps rotating endlessly. These ingenuous autumn leaves let us realize an eternal truth about our lives.

Autumn leaves in Kencho-ji

Like my mind mesmerized by the beauty of the autumn leaves, the shaded surface of the pond is quietly reflecting the flaming colors of this season.

Autumn leaves in Engaku-ji

In front of the forbidden gate to the Shari-den (the temple for Buddha's bones), the countless brilliant leaves of autumn are floating calmly in the air like the golden clouds aglow with the setting sun.

December 4, 2012

Autumn leaves in the garden of Tenryu-ji (Kyoto)

In the brief time of transition from autumn to winter, the garden of Tenryu-ji is beautified still more with red, vermilion and golden leaves under the transparent sky.

This elegant "Chisen-kaiyu-shiki" (pond-stroll) garden was designed and laid out by Muso Soseki (1275-1351), who is one of the most prominent Zen monks and the father of Zen garden in Japan.

This garden is expressive of the universe of true enlightenment. Every day, at dawn, gazing on this beautiful garden, the trainee monks sit in meditation to try to be spiritually awakened.

The colorful carps are peacefully swimming around in the still water as if to be wise to the eternal truth of this world.

Autumn leaves in the garden of Tenryu-ji (Kyoto)

Close by the "Sogen-chi" pond, the arrangement of rocks (Ishigumi), which takes the form of "Ryumon-baku" (Dragon Gate Fall) waterfall, is finely decorated with colored autumnal leaves.

Ryumon-baku is the precipitous waterfall in the old Chinese legend, by leaping up which a carp is said to be able to change into a dragon.

This stone arrangement consists of a "Suiraku-seki" (Water Dropping Stone) stone, a "Kannon-seki"(Kannon Bosatsu Stone) stone, a "Hekigan-seki"(Hekigan-koan Conundrum Stone) stone, a "Koi-seki" (Carp Stone) stone and so on. This form of stone arragement is essential to the Chisen-kaiyu-shiki (pond-stroll-style) Zen gardens of Japan.

In the seasons passing away, these picturesque Ishigumi rocks tell us about the esoteric teaching of Zen wordlessly.

Autumn leaves in the garden of Tenryu-ji (Kyoto)

The flamboyant autumnal tints are mirrored brilliantly in the gently rippled surface of the pond.

I know this lavish abundance of flaming colors is sure to fade away soon in the cold north wind as the bitter winter deepens . Precisely for this reason, I sincerely admire this transient beauty of autumn leaves.

Before long, the first snow of the season will flutter down to grace this quiet garden, where these splendid colors will have vanished without a trace.

A bamboo grove in Arashi-yama (Kyoto)

The moment when some clouds appeared and the sun was darkened, a deep stillness reigned entirely in the thick grove of tall bamboo trees.

Autumn leaves in Okochi-sanso in Arashi-yama (Kyoto)

The vermilion Momiji leaves were in harmony with the background tinted with gold, magenta and green. This unexpected composition reminded me of the exquisite pattern of a Kyo-yuzen kimono for autumn.

Autumn leaves in Arashi-yama (Kyoto)

When I reached the breast of the hill, the spectacular mosaic made up of pieces of colored leaves suddenly appeared on the opposite hillside across the river.

Autumn leaves in Okochi-sanso in Arashi-yama (Kyoto)

With every puff of the gentle autumnal breeze, countless autumn leaves were silently fluttering down to the ground adorned with vivid green moss.

Autumn leaves in Okochi-sanso in Arashi-yama (Kyoto)

In the soundless garden adjacent to the teahouse, the autumnal leaves, which had just washed by the brief shower, were softly shining in the pale sunlight filtering through the branches of trees.

Autumn leaves in Okochi-sanso in Arashi-yama (Kyoto)

Just after a shower of rain, the fallen leaves wet with raindrops were glistening on the ground between the stepping-stones.

Autumn leaves in Okochi-sanso in Arashi-yama (Kyoto)

In the garden of silence, the pure essence of autumn secretly manifested itself in this graceful combination of bright scarlet and forest green.

Autumn leaves in Okochi-sanso in Arashi-yama (Kyoto)

The snow white of the shoji screens arrested my eye in the autumnal garden brilliantly colored with the vivid yellow of the ginkgo leaves, the vermilion of the maple leaves and the green of the pine needles.

This beautiful classical house is named Daijokaku (the Great Vehicle Palace), which belongs to magnificent Okochi-sanso (Okochi Mountain Villa) built by Denjiro Okochi (1898-1962). He was once a screen actor of renown and devoted all his energy to create this amazing villa.

November 27, 2012

Autumn leaves in Arashi-yama (Kyoto)

The seasons are rotating on perpetually.

The trees have already begun to take on autumnal reds and yellows to prepare for harsh winter.

The river keeps flowing gently like the relentless stream of time.

On the wooden bridge over the running river, people continue to come and go to live their own lives.

Autumn leaves in Arashi-yama (Kyoto)

Beyond the Togetsu-kyo (Moon Crossing Bridge), the woody hillside of Arashi-yama is finely adorned with the flaming colors of the autumn leaves.

Before long, these flamboyant leaves will be scattered suddenly by the chilly winter blasts and be slowly carried down by the ceaseless flow of the river.

Autumn leaves in Arashi-yama (Kyoto)

The colorful autumnal leaves are lending an additional elegance to the quiet beauty of the deep gorge and calm river.

Autumn leaves in the garden of Daikaku-ji (Kyoto)

Beyond the "Osawa-ike" pond whose surface is covered with the numberless withered leaves of sacred lotus, the Shinkyo-houtou (Precious Sutra Pagoda) is gracefully ornamented with the gentle autumnal colors.

Autumn leaves in the garden of Daikaku-ji (Kyoto)

The tiled roofs of the temple are shining softly in the clear morning sun.

The countless slight ripples caused by the gentle autumn breeze are creating a fine texture on the water surface of the pond.

The garden of Koto-in of Daitoku-ji (Kyoto)

Just after it has stopped raining, the exquisite colors of autumn are flooding the silent garden surrounded by the bamboo grove.

The stone pavement to the gate of Koto-in of Daitoku-ji (Kyoto)

The deep green of the moss and bamboo is filling the rainy passage to the gate. 

The pale autumnal tints of maple leaves inside the gate are adding a subtle touch of charm to this place of stillness.

Autumn leaves in koto-in of Daitoku-ji (Kyoto)

The leaves of deciduous trees take on spectacular flaming colors to flutter to the ground with every puff of the cold wind.

Soon long and bitter winter will come here and every living thing will quietly wait for next spring in the coldness.

A Tsukubai (stone washbasin) in the garden of a teahouse in Koto-in of Daitoku-ji (Kyoto)

In the quiet garden adjacent the tea house, the autumn leaves are softly falling onto the old stone washbasin which is thickly covered with vivid green moss.

November 21, 2012

Autumn leaves in Koto-in of Daitoku-ji (Kyoto)

I visited Kyoto to enjoy the beautiful coloring of the autumn leaves in this ancient city.

In the tranquil garden of the small temple, a passing gentle shower fell on the leaves which were taking on brilliant autumnal tints.

Just after the rainfall, the graceful colors of the leaves, which had been purified by the cold rainwater, impressed me deeply with their sudden overwhelming beauty.

A series of pictures which I took during this weekend trip to Kyoto will be presented for some time so as to keep a memory of the unforgettable sights of this fast passing season.

The autumnal garden of Koto-in of Daitoku-ji (Kyoto)

In the calm garden just cleansed by the rain shower, the wet stepping stones extend through exquisite colors of autumn as if leading me to eternity.

In several days, this peaceful garden will be filled with flaming color of innumerable autumn leaves with the coming on of biting coldness.

The stone garden of Ryugen-inn of Daitoku-ji (Kyoto)

The bright morning sun is clearly illuminating the ocean and islands of this quiet stone garden.

The passage of time disappears in this world and only a present moment stays everlastingly.

Autumn leaves in Koto-in of Daitoku-ji (Kyoto)

In Kaede-no-niwa (the garden of maple trees) of this minor temple, the subtle harmony of autumnal colors was floating gently like a heavenly music in a brief sprinkle of rain.

The stone garden of Ryugen-inn of Daitoku-ji (Kyoto)

In the bright and clear morning sun special to this season, the eaves of the Hojyo (abbot's chamber) is casting a sharp shadow onto the stone garden thickly covered with green moss.

Autumn leaves in Koto-in of Daitoku-ji (Kyoto)

The raindrops of the sudden rain is softly falling on the autumn leaves as if to try to heighten their beauty further.

Garden stones in Ryugen-inn of Daitoku-ji (Kyoto)

The liquid morning sunlight is streaming through the corridor and is shining on the islands and ripples of this small inner Zen-garden.

November 19, 2012

October 21, 2012

Higan-bana (Lycoris radiata) flowers in Engaku-ji

The white flowers of Higan-bana are blooming quietly in the mellow illumination from the gentle October sun.

At the outset of autumn, its flower stalk having no leaf grows high above the ground and then five to seven slender flowers bloom sideways in a cyclic manner at the tip of the flower stalk.

Late in autumn, after such a flower scatters, deep green leaves appear and pass the winter. In spring, this plant disappears totally from view and live as a bulb in the ground until next autumn comes. 

A Hozuki (Physalis alkekengi var. franchetii) fruit in Engaku-ji

After the pale yellow flower of Hozuki blooms, its fruit begins to grow and its calyx develops to envelope the fruit like a vivid orange pouch.

When the fruit ripens, this pouch decays and finally becomes a finely woven basket for the vermilion fruit.

Higan-bana (Lycoris radiata) flowers in Kaizo-ji

The red flowers of Higan-bana are blooming like immobile crimson flames in the sunny corner of the garden of late October.

Higan-bana is a poisonous and bulbous plant and bears no seed. Although its flower displays glaring colors and a magical figure, insects never visit this spectacularly flamboyant flower.

Hototogisu (Tricyrtis hirta) flowers in Tokei-ji

This plant is named "Hototogisu" because its flower petals have the scattered dots which resemble the marking on the abdomen of the migratory bird with the same name.

Hototogisu birds, which warble serenades beautifully in the midnights of early summer, had migrated south long before.

In the sunny quiet garden of late autumn, these small flowers with purple polka dots seem to be warbling inaudibly for trying to prevent this crisp season from leaving too soon.