December 19, 2017

Autumn leaves: Engaku-ji

With each piercing wind from north, autumn is gradually deepening into winter.

The dry chillness of the air has already sparked the vivid coloring of the leaves in this modest garden.

Just before the quiet winter rest, the leaves of trees exhibits the bright flaming colors of life to foretell the rebirth of fresh leaves in the coming spring.

Autumn leaves: Engaku-ji

In the lucid stillness peculiar to this fast passing season, the Shari-den (the hall in which a vessel for Buddha's bones is enshrined) is subtly adorned with the transient mosaic of crimson, yellow and deep-green autumnal leaves.

Autumn leaves: Engaku-ji

Autumn leaves: Engaku-ji

Autumn leaves: Engaku-ji

Autumn leaves: Engaku-ji

November 7, 2017

Aka-tateha (Vanessa indica) butterfly: Kaizo-ji

In the tranquil garden of this humble temple, the beginning of autumn has already caused the light violet flowers of Sion to come into full bloom.

In the lucid sunlight pouring down through the high clouds, these abundant flowers are magnificently shining to compose the momentary splendor of this transient season.

A vivid orange butterfly of autumn has flown away swiftly into the air after alighting on a flower for an instant.

Sion (Michaelmas daisy) flowers: Kaizo-ji

A fitful north wind is gently stirring the leaves which have just begun to change colors.

Autumn is deepening earlier than I expected.

The full-blown flowers of Sion are slowly swaying in the dry cooling wind as if to convey the joy and emotion of their brief and glorious blooming.

Rindo (Gentiana scabra var. buergeri) flowers: Kaizo-ji

Sion (Michaelmas daisy) flowers: Kaizo-ji

Kinmokusei (fragrant olive) flowers: Engaku-ji

Shuumei-giku (Japanese anemone) flowers: Engaku-ji

Hagi (Japanese bush clover) flowers: Kita-kamakura

Hototogisu (Japanese toad lily) flowers: Kaizo-ji

Shumei-giku (Anemone japonica) flowers: Engaku-ji

Susuki (Japanese plume grass): Kita-kamakura

October 8, 2017

Higan-bana (Lycoris radiata) flowers and Kuro-ageha (Papilio protenor) butterfly: Tokei-ji

In the gardens of Zen, the intenseness of summer is passing away stealthily and the calmness of autumn is coming closer quietly.

In the gardens where the dainty flowers of autumn begin blooming, summer butterflies with worn-out wings, which once flitted high in the dazzling sky, are gently flying low to eagerly search for the remaining floral nectar.

Without our noticing, such an exquisite butterfly of summer will soon disappear from view after devotedly fulfilling its own mission in life.

Monument to the memory of Dogen Zenji (Shikantaza, or "Just sitting"): Kamakura

The stone monument, on which the fundamental principle (i.e. "just sitting" or shikantaza) of Dogen Zenji  (the founder of the Soto Zen school) is engraved, is shining brightly in the burning sunlight of summer.

A Saru-suberi (Indian lilac) tree with countless vivid magenta flowers is standing by the side of this monument as if to quietly meditate under the deep blue sky.

"Just sitting" and "Shinshin datsuraku" (the freedom from body and mind) are the profound doctrines of Dogen, who teaches us the way to experience the ultimate spiritual awakening.

(Please click the bold-faced words to open their linked pages.)

Hagi (Lespedeza) flowers: Kaizo-ji

Higan-bana (Lycoris radiata) flowers: Tokei-ji

Hagi (Lespedeza) flowers: Chojyu-ji

Tama-ajisai (Hydrangea involucrata) flowers: Kita-kamakura

Sujiguro-sirocho (Pieris melete) butterfly: Kita-kamakura

Yuri (Lilium) flowers: Engaku-ji

Summer maple leaves: Engaku-ji

Fuyo (Hibiscus mutabilis) flowers: Kaizo-ji

August 27, 2017

Bamboo grove: Jochi-ji

The height of summer has already arrived here and the shiny green of trees and plants is spreading all around in the glaring sunlight.

The colorful flowers of early summer, which once sparkled lively in the gardens, have mostly disappeared, which makes me find the steady and rapid transition of the seasons.

In these ever-changing seasons, a bamboo grove continues its constant growth and keeps rising high toward the sun determinedly.

Bamboo grove: Hokoku-ji

Bamboo grove: Jochi-ji

The whole body of a bamboo grove is one single living organism and all of its stems are interlinked underground by its cobweb-like roots.

The subtle divergence of nature conditions in a grove brings about a delicate change in the color and form of each growing bamboo stem.

Bamboo grove: Eisho-ji

When you stand alone in the heart of a bamboo grove, you can sense the silent voice and mind of this huge living thing in a gentle wind rustling in the green shade.

White summer clouds: Yuigahama-beach

Absolutely white clouds are staying as still as immense pieces of snowy stone in the deep azure sky of mid-summer.

Sarusuberi (Lagerstroemia indica) flowers: Eisho-ji

Fuyo (Hibiscus mutabilis) flowers: Kaizo-ji

Stone steps: Jochi-ji

Sacred lotus flowers: Kaizo-ji

Byakusin (Chinese juniper)Bya tree: Kencho-ji

The evergreen needle leaves of this aged Byakusin tree keep growing thick as always for about 750 years since the building of this old Zen-temple.

July 29, 2017

Sacred lotus flower: Kencho-ji

In the dazzling sunlight and intense heat, noble lotus flowers vigorously come into bloom high on the muddy water and give off the fragrant aroma of summer over the lotus pond.

The lotus grows out towards the sun from the bottom of dirty water and blooms pristinely on this water. The flower of lotus is compared to a spiritually awakened sage and its blossoming and dying is regarded as a symbol of our transitoriness of life.

In the height of summer, the glorious flowers of lotus bloom devotedly and reveal the blessing of the scorching brilliant sun.

Sacred lotus flower: Tsurugaoka-hachimangu

Sacred lotus flower: Tsurugaoka-hachimangu

When a lotus flower opens in the bright sun, a receptacle divinely appears in the center of the flower. This receptacle has a round gold stigma which is the pistil of this flower.

Because the countless stamens around the pistil are too short to self-pollinate, this flower invites insect pollinators for its pollination by means of its sweet aroma, nectar and color.

The pistil receives pollen and turns black. The silky flower petals flutter down by themselves after four days from opening.

Sacred lotus flower: Kencho-ji

Dragonfly on a lotus flower bud: Kaizo-ji

Nouzen-kazura flowers: Kaizo-ji

Sacred lotus flower: Kaizo-ji

Bamboo grove: Engaku-ji