May 30, 2013

A water lily flower in Kita-kamakura

When the rainy season sets in, the gentle flower of Suiren rises to the water surface as if to give this moist season a hearty welcome.

As the name "Suiren (sleeping lotus)" suggests, this short-lived aquatic flower repeats its opening in the morning and closing in the late afternoon for about 4 days.

Day by day, this flower changes its figure by bits like a growing nymph under the rainy sky.

Moss in Toke-ji

The ray of sunlight coming in through the grove is softly shining on the green moss typical of this season, which is commonly called "Toranoo-goke" in Japan.

This strange name "Toranoo-goke" means "moss like a tiger's tail" because the shape of this moss looks like a tiger's tail.

A vivid red leaf, which is lying on this moss accidentally, is enhancing the beauty of the fresh greenness peculiar to this season.

A Himeato-sukashiba (Nokona pernix) moth in Engaku-ji

A small moth with transparent wings is resting still on a maple leaf as if to hesitate before rising into the air.

This moth mimics a wasp to defend itself against enemies.

The garden of Kaizo-ji

In the small garden of Kaizo-ji, the flowers of early summer, such as calla, iris and water-lily flowers, have just bloomed modestly in the bright sunlight.

Soon the long spell of rainy weather will begin and the gray rain clouds will stay over this peaceful garden for one month or so.

Pigeons in Tsurugaoka-hachimangu

I happened to see the momentary beautiful scene in which a female white pigeon had just accepted the courtship of a male.

In the rotating seasons, every living being keeps finely singing its own song of life.

Kinshi-bai (Hypericum patulum) flowers in Kita-kamakura

The vivid yellow flowers of Kinshi-bai bloom in the rainy season and the glittery raindrops on the petals will beautify these flowers gracefully.

The name "Kinshi-bai" means a Ume-like five-petaled flower with thin golden threads.

Ajisai (Hydrangea) flowers in Kencho-ji

The flowering season of Ajisai has just begun and the diverse colors of Ajisai flowers are appearing one after another everywhere in Kita-kamakura.

The attractiveness of such Ajisai flowers lies in the abundance and transition of their colors.

As time passes by, the flowers change their colors gradually under the rainy sky.

Kita-kamakura is celebrated for Ajisai flowers and attracts a lot of visitors in this season.

A bamboo grove in Kencho-ji

I always sense great life force and quiet genuineness in the evergreen beauty of a bamboo grove.

The gentle wind of late spring is shaking the bamboo grove and the leaves of the bamboos are softly rubbing against each other with a faint bracing sound.

Ayame (Iris sanguinea) flowers in Kencho-ji

Ayame flowers have started blooming in Kita-kamakura.

Soon the gardens of Zen will be decorated elegantly with the enormous exotic flowers of Iris.

The flower-buds of Iwatabako (Conandron ramondioides) in Tokei-ji

The tiny flower buds of Iwatabako are emerging one after another under the leaves on the moss-covered rock surface.

The twisted figures of these downy buds makes me feel that I am witnessing the joyful birth of new born babies.

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

Ajisai flowers are ready to come into full bloom beautifully.

These flowers will keep changing their colors day by day and with every rain fall until their last.

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

May 21, 2013

Fern in Jochi-ji

As spring fades and summer approaches, the once spectacular flowers of spring are disappearing from view in a quiet way and the young and fresh leaves of trees and plants are beginning to grow thicker and deeper for welcoming the dazzling sun of summer.

The singing of summer migratory birds is already heard from nowhere apparent and beautiful swallowtails have just started flitting around to seek the floral nectar of early summer.

Hakuunboku (Styrax obassia) flowers in Jochi-ji

In the mild afternoon sun, the white flower clusters of Haku-un-boku are floating on the balmy breeze and emitting a fragrant soothing aroma into the air.

The name "Haku-un-boku" means "white cloud tree." The flowering season of these cloud-like flowers is only a week or so.

Like fleecy clouds drifting across the sky, these flowers fade away swiftly in the flow of time.

A calm sea: Morito coast (Hayama)

The declining sun is silvering the calm sea surface brightly. The deep steel blue of the cloudy sky is spreading itself far beyond the horizon.

The small torii is standing on the rock reef to represent the gateway to the sacred place for ritual purification.

A calm sea: Morito-coast (Hayama)

The thin rays of sunlight are penetrating the banks of clouds and softly brightening the smooth sea.

The sounds of gentle winds and waves are further heightening the boundless peacefulness of this seascape.

Shiran (Bletilla striata Reichb. fil.) flowers in Engaku-ji

The Moppan (wooden board) in the So-do (meditation hall) of Engaku-ji

In the quiet temples of Zen, the routine of day is notified by the vibrant and sharp sounds of "Narashimono (sound instruments) ," which are usually a Kane (temple bell), a Mokugyo (wood block), a Moppan (wooden board) or the like.

In particular, a Moppan, which is a wooden board about 50 cm wide by 25cm high, is commonly hanged at the entrance of a So-do (Zen meditation hall) and used to announce the starting and finishing times of the training practices and other daily routine by striking this board with a wooden hammer.

In the Zen temples of the Rinzai Sect, the following words are generally inscribed on the Moppan;

"Shoji jidai," which means that our ultimate purpose is to realize the true nature of our life and death,

"Mujyo jinsoku," which means that our life is always transient and uncertain and death soon comes to all,

"Ko-in oshimubeshi," which means that time flies fast and so you must not waste every second, and

"Shinmotsu houitsu," which means that you must keep training yourself toward your final awakening with all your effort.

The So-do (meditation hall) of Engaku-ji

In the Zen temples of Rinzai school, the Sodo is the particular hall where a group of trainee monks strictly train themselves through their rigorous practices such as Zazen (sitting meditation).

Along the inner walls of this hall, the small discrete spaces called "Tan (unit)" are arranged in a row. This "Tan" is one Tatami mat (about 180 by 90 cm) in size and is provided as the individual practice space where each trainee monk lives in poverty and sits in meditation every day.

The entrance of Sodo is always left open even in winter. On the wooden board hanged beside the entrance, the characters of "Zazen" is inscribed.

The Shari-den of Engaku-ji

Like the sharp point of a keen-edged Katana sword, the pointed end of the Shari-den's roof is piercing into the lucid air in the bright sunlight.

Maple leaves in Tokei-ji

May 7, 2013

Shaga (Iris japonica) flowers in Engaku-ji

The pale flowers of Shaga are blooming modestly above the small stream flowing silently.

The subtle passage of seasons is often hinted to us by the appearance and disappearance of diverse living beings in the gardens.

Soon these fragile flowers will vanish away inconspicuously to let us find that spring ends finally and the various living things which notify of the arrival of early summer will show themselves one after another.

A Botan (Paeonia) flower in Engaku-ji

The vivid magenta petals and bright yellow pollen of a Botan flower created an colorful abstract picture of high spring, in combination with the blue green leaves.

This composition of colors and shapes suddenly reminded me of the daring paper cuttings by Henri Matisse in his later years.

Kodemai (Spiraea cantoniensis) flowers in Engaku-ji

In the height of spring, the tiny white flowers of Kodemari are blooming cutely in the form of the chains of spherical flower clusters.

The diameter of this flower is less than 1 cm. The name "Kodemari" means a "small handball" because the inflorescence of this plant looks like toy handballs for little girls.

This flower is often arranged in tea ceremonies as one of the typical spring flowers which symbolize this youthful season of the year.

Tsutsuji (Rhododendron) flowers in Jochi-ji

In the thick growth of weeds beside the weathered stone steps leading up to the temple, the crimson flowers of Tsutsuji and the bluish-white flowers of Shaga are blooming unobtrusively as though they were enjoying quietly the mild sunbeams of spring and the deep green stillness of this garden.

The garden of Kaizo-ji

Generally the design of a temple garden represents the image of the Pure Land (Gokuraku-jyodo) of Amida Buddha.

In this peaceful small garden, the Paradise of Buddha has just descended from the sky as the quiet miniature landscape elegantly adorned with spring colorful flowers, plants and mosses.

Haru-jion (Erigeron philadelphicus) flowers in Kita-kamakura

This colony of plain spring flowers made me think of the exquisite Victorian designs of William Morris.

Fuji (Wisteria floribunda) flowers in Kita-kamakura

The cascades of violet flowers of Fuji are hanging down above the small stream and nodding faintly in the mild wind.

This year is a very good year for the flowers of Fuji and so we can find their elegant colors and figures everywhere in Kita-kamakura.

Fuji (Wisteria floribunda)and Mizuki (Swida controversa) flowers in Kita-kamakura

On the green woody hillside, the wild flowers of Fuji and Mizuki are blooming lively in the radiant sunshine of mid spring.

Kusanoou (Chelidonium majus var. asiaticum) flowers in Kita-kamakura

On the small vivid yellow flower of Kusanoou, a juvenile Yabukiri (Tettigonia orientalis)  casted a sharp glance in a instant as if to intimidate me.

Seiyo-jyuni-hitoe (Ajuga reptans) and Shokassai (Orychophragmus violaceus) flowers in Tokei-ji

Unexpectedly, two varieties of violet colors are adorning the peaceful verdant garden elegantly.

Hime-jyoon (Erigeron annuus) flowers in Engaku-ji

Shakunage (Rhododendron) flowers in Engaku-ji