February 1, 2014
Fuyu-botan (winter-flowering peony) flowers are blooming in a noble manner in the pale coldness of midwinter.
In Japan, a peony commonly blooms in early summer after the long rainy season. Winter-peony flowers are brought blooming forward artificially and presented as a beautiful lucky charm to the people who visit a shrine or a temple during the New Year.
In the culture of Zen Buddhism, the beauty of nature is perceived as an implied manifestation of the nature of Buddha.
In the wintry chill, these splendid flowers make me feel the deep and warm mercy from above.
The delicate and elegant flowers of Fuyu-botan, which seem to be a silk hair-decoration of a splendidly kimono-dressed girl, are blossoming in full glory in the small straw enclosure protecting these flowers from winter coldness.
Peony flowers were introduced from China into Japan in the 8th century. In China, and also in Japan, a peony flower is traditionally appreciated as the queen of flowers and is regarded as the most auspicious flower of all as well as a beautiful emblem of eternal youth and happiness.
This black-lacquered gate in Chinese-style, which is originally prepared for guests of honor, is splendidly decorated with various gilded figures of auspicious omens which include the figures of peony flowers.