October 24, 2020

Kinmokusei (Osmanthus fragrans) flowers and Sho-kannon-do temple: Engaku-ji

Kinmokusei (Osmanthus fragrans) flowers and Sho-kannon-do temple: Engaku-ji


The countless small flowers of Kinmokusei (sweet olive) are in full bloom to notify the fast deepening of autumn and are announcing their gorgeous blooming by diffusing their sweet fragrance in this tranquil garden which will soon be adorned with colored autumn leaves. 

In the humble "Sho-kannon-do" temple below the cloud of golden yellow flowers, the small wooden statue of the Sho-kannon (Holy Avalokiteshvara) is silently standing, while tenderheartedly staring at the ceaseless and swift transition of the seasons and all living things before his eyes.


Kinmokusei (Osmanthus fragrans) flowers: Engaku-ji

Kinmokusei (Osmanthus fragrans) flowers: Engaku-ji


According to a Chinese legend, Kinmokusei has been considered to be the sacred tree of the heavenly realm, which purges evil spirits and provides eternal youth and longevity. 

The moon is regarded to be the origin of this sacred tree, and the full moon shines in gold because golden Kinmokusei flowers are in full bloom on the moon.

This plant of fragrant flowers is dioecious, but only male plants were introduced to Japan from China in the 18th century as a garden plant and were propagated throughout Japan by cutting. 

Therefore, all Kinmokusei trees grown in Japan are male plants. These male flowers send out their sweet perfumes as if to silently sing ballads that express their unfulfilled longing of love in the midst of this gentle season.


Hagi, Sarusuberi, and Kin-mokusei flowers: Engaku-ji

Hagi, Sarusuberi, and Kin-mokusei flowers: Engaku-ji


Being wrapped with the transparent sunlight that descends from the clear autumn sky, the various colorful flowers that decorate this garden seem to be joyfully competing with each other for splendor.

Before long, the north wind will begin blowing to cause this garden to be ablaze with the autumnal tints of leaves.

The seasonal changes in sunshine conditions and ambient temperatures cause the blooming of different flowers and the transformation of various leaves, which makes us notice the stealthy turn of the seasons.
 


Shion (Aster tataricus) flowers and a statue of Jizo Bosatsu: Engaku-ji

Shion (Aster tataricus) flowers and a statue of Jizo Bosatsu: Engaku-ji


Countless pale-purple Shion flowers are facing all together toward the bright autumn sun and are swaying faintly in the fresh breeze blowing through the green cedar trees around the Sangedatsumon gate (Three Gates of Liberation).

Surrounded by the cascades of Hagi (Lespedeza) flowers, a stone statue of the Jizo Bodhisattva (the guardian deity of children, travelers, and lost souls), in the figure of a young boy, is standing still and praying for the infinite happiness of all living things in this world. 


Susuki (Miscanthus sinensis) flowers: Jochi-ji

Susuki (Miscanthus sinensis) flowers: Jochi-ji

 

Seascape: Yuigahama-beach

Seascape: Yuigahama-beach

 

Shumei-giku (Anemone hupehensis var. japonica) flowers: Tokei-ji

Shumei-giku (Anemone hupehensis var. japonica) flowers: Tokei-ji

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

Shion (Aster tataricus) flowers: Kaizo-ji

Shion (Aster tataricus) flowers: Kaizo-ji

 

Hagi (Lespedeza) flowers: Kaizo-ji

Hagi (Lespedeza) flowers: Kaizo-ji

 

Rindo (autumn bellflower) flowers: Kaizo-ji

Rindo (autumn bellflower) flowers: Kaizo-ji

 

Shion (Aster tataricus) flowers: Kaizo-ji

Sion (Aster tataricus) flowers: Kaizo-ji

 

October 7, 2020

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

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


The transparent sunlight peculiar to early autumn is falling through the pellucid atmosphere and is filling the humble garden of this Buddhist convent with its serene and clear brightness.

As if to heartily welcome the refreshing and rich sunshine of this season, the vivid vermilion flowers of Higan-bana are blooming all together vigorously on the tips of the leafless stems before the appearance of their fresh leaves. 

The stunning color of a roaring flame is blazing quietly in this monastic garden, which makes me realize that the long-awaited autumn has just arrived here definitely.


Hagi (Lespedeza) flowers: Kencho-ji

Hagi (Lespedeza) flowers: Kencho-ji


The overwhelming sun and thick greenery of the dazzling midsummer, which once dominated everything in this garden, has already gone away.

As the gentle sunlight of autumn comes back here again, a variety of delicate colors of plants and lively signs of living things are beginning to quietly fill the garden which gradually restores its peacefulness.

Autumn begins with the arrival of a pleasant cool wind and soon ends with the incoming of a harsh northern wind. The cascades of Hagi flowers keep swaying slowly in the autumnal breeze as if to know the hurried passage of this beautiful season.


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

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


"Higan-bana" means the flower which blooms around Higan (the autumnal equinox) and its flowering season is about the middle of September. 

Its flower buds in the soil know their flowering time by sensing only the seasonal change of temperature. The flower stalks emerge from the ground before the leaves and its delicate flowers bloom in the form of radial clusters simultaneously.

When the flower stalks disappear after flowering, the leaves grow out and remain green over the winter. In early summer, when other plants start growing leaves, the leaves of Higan-bana die and the above-ground part of this plant is no longer visible.

Instead of producing seeds, this plant reproduces by making its bulbs in the soil for multiplication. The individuals in the same colony are genetically identical, and so they have similar flowering periods, flower size and color, and grass height.

Fuyo (Hibiscus mutabilis) flower and swallowtail: Kaizo-ji

Fuyo (Hibiscus mutabilis) flower and swallowtail: Kaizo-ji


In accordance with the constant changing of solar energy caused by the revolution of the earth, the seasons keep rotating ceaselessly and the seasonal spectacles of living things go on transforming moment by moment.

In harmony with the cyclic rhythm of our planet and the universe, all living things are interconnecting and conversing with each other in hidden and subtle ways to livelily live on in these ever-changing seasons.



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

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

 

At twilight in late summer: Yuigahama-beach

At twilight in late summer: Yuigahama-beach

 

Sarusuberi (Lagerstroemia indica.) flowers: Trugaoka-hachimangu

Sarusuberi (Lagerstroemia indica.) flowers: Trugaoka-hachimangu


The vivid magenta flowers of Sarusuberi, which are typical of hot midsummer in Kamakura, are blooming beside the monument sacred to the memory of Dogen Zenji (the founder of Soto Zen school).

The Dogen's motto of "Shikantaza" ("devote yourself single‐mindedly to Zen meditation") is inscribed on this stone monument.


Murasaki-shikibu (Callicarpa japonica) fruits: Kaizo-ji


Murasaki-shikibu (Callicarpa japonica) fruits: Kaizo-ji



 

Setting sun in late summer: Yuigahama-beach

Setting sun in late summer: Yuigahama-beach



 

Higan-bana (Lycoris radiata) and Shion (Aster tataricus) flowers: Tokei-ji

Higan-bana (Lycoris radiata) and Shion (Aster tataricus) flowers: Tokei-ji



 

Moss-covered path: Tokei-ji

Moss-covered path: Tokei-ji

 

Higan-bana (Lycoris radiata) flower: Chojyu-ji

Higan-bana (Lycoris radiata) flower: Chojyu-ji

 

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

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

 

Shumei-giku (Anemone hupehensis var. japonica) flowers: Engaku-ji

Shumei-giku (Anemone hupehensis var. japonica): Engaku-ji




August 31, 2020

Summer sunset: Yuigahama-beach (Kamakura)

Summer sunset: Yuigahama-beach (Kamakura)


The evening sun of late summer is slowly sinking behind the darkened cape. 

The brilliant flush of the setting sun is lighting up the deep blue sky and is making the surrounding clouds glare in bright golden color to crown the end of this hot summer day.

People on the beach are quietly gazing into the transient evening sky which is subtly darkening moment by moment as if they were bidding farewell to the sea and sun before the fall of night.


Summer sunset: Yuigahama-beach (Kamakura)

Summer sunset: Yuigahama-beach (Kamakura)


The fierce heat of the hot daytime is slowly cooling down. Just before the arrival of the deepening night, the sun is about to sink beyond the distant peninsula. The dazzling evening glow is painting the western sky brilliantly with its color of raging flames.
 
The shining clouds are swiftly drifting in the evening sky, appearing and fading fleetingly. The surface of the sea, softly illuminated by the sunset glow, keeps constantly waving. The brightness of the sky is growing weaker from moment to moment without lingering.

In the midst of the ceaseless changing of the light and color that fill this sky, people on the shore are quietly staring at the transitoriness of the universe without knowing it.


The evening moon: Yuigahama-beach (Kamakura)

The evening moon: Yuigahama-beach (Kamakura)


The sun has just set beneath the distant horizon. In the swiftly fading twilight sky, the first quarter moon is shining brightly in silver above a series of low clouds.

The serene moon is reflecting the lucid light of the sun which has already disappeared from sight.

The gray fleecy clouds are gently drifting away on the soft sea breeze while changing their figures successively.

The moon is silently gazing at the people standing still at this seaside, like the eye which can see through all things wisely.



Summer evening sky: Yuigahama-beach

Summer evening sky: Yuigahama-beach


The darkness of night has just begun dominating the evening sky moment by moment. The golden flare of the setting sun is making the high cumulus clouds glow brightly in the west.

People are standing still on the edge of the sea silently as if to be enchanted by the magic spell of the ever-changing seascape under the twilight sky.


The blue of summer sky: Yuigahama-beach (Kamakura)

The blue of summer sky: Yuigahama-beach (Kamakura)

 

Summer evening seascape: Yuigahama-beach (Kamakura)

Summer evening: Yuigahama-beach (Kamakura)

 

Summer sunset: Yuigahama-beach

Summer sunset: Yuigahama-beach

 

The setting sun: Yuigahama-beach (Kamakura)

The setting sun: Yuigahama-beach (Kamakura)

 

The blue of summer sky: Yuigahama-beach (Kamakura)

the blue of summer sky: Yuigahama-beach (Kamakura)

 

Summer evening sky: Yuigahama-beach (Kamakura)

Summer evening sky: Yuigahama-beach (Kamakura)

 

Summer evening: Yuigahama-beach (Kamakura)

The blue of summer sky: Yuigahama-beach (Kamakura) 

 

The blue of summer sky: Yuigahama-beach (Kamakura)

The blue of summer sky: Yuigahama-beach (Kamakura) 

 

July 30, 2020

Sacred lotus flower: Kencho-ji

Sacred lotus flower: Kencho-ji


Without being discouraged by the shortage of sunshine due to the inordinately long spell of rainy weather in this summer, lotus flowers are beginning to bloom nobly with all their might this year too. 

For a plant, its flowering and pollination must be the most important rituals of life, for which it must have spent the whole year to prepare diligently.

The life span of a lotus flower is about only four days, and once the pollination is completed, its silky petals silently fall off in rapid succession without any hesitation.

The noble beauty of this snowy flower makes me sense the innermost delight of this plant which was able to accomplish its blooming finally.


Sacred lotus flower: Kencho-ji

Sacred lotus flower: Kencho-ji


The lotus is an ancient and primitive plant that has survived on the earth so long that its fossils have been found in many places. 

The species of plant ancestral to modern lotus plants is said to have appeared on the earth in the Cretaceous Period, about 100 million years ago, when dinosaurs were ruling over this planet earth. 

It is characteristic of primitive flowers that they have a very large number of petals, stamens, and pistils. 

During the evolution of the lotus flower, the stigma of this flower had been flattened to make it easier for scarab beetles to move around on it, as they are the leading insects responsible for the pollination of this mystic ancient flower.


Sacred lotus flowers: Kencho-ji

Sacred lotus flowers: Kencho-ji


The white flowers and deep green leaves of sacred lotus are tranquilly rising from the lotus bowls beside the black lacquered Chokusi-mon (imperial envoy gate) decorated with the gilded auspicious ornaments.

In Buddhist culture, the sacred lotus flower, which emerges beautifully from the midst of dark mud, is said to symbolize the great enlightenment of Buddha. 

According to the Kegon-kyo (the Flower Garland Sutra), Rushana-butsu (the central deity coming from the sun) sits atop the stigma of a lotus flower and keeps illuminating the whole universe with the pure light of his great wisdom and compassion.



Sacred lotus flower: Komyo-ji (Zushi)

Sacred lotus flower: Komyo-ji (Zushi)

Sacred lotus flower: Tsurugaoka-hachimangu

Sacred lotus flower: Tsurugaoka-hachimangu

Yama-yuri (Lilium auratum) flowers: Kencho-ji

Yama-yuri (Lilium auratum) flowers: Kencho-ji

Kanoko-yuri (Lilium speciosum) flowers: Tsurugaoka-hachimangu

Kanoko-yuri (Lilium speciosum) flowers: Tsurugaoka-hachimangu

Nouzen-kazura (Campsis grandiflora) flowers: Kaizo-ji

Nouzen-kazura (Campsis grandiflora) flowers: Kaizo-ji

Sacred lotus flowers: Tsurugaoka-hachimangu

Sacred lotus flowers: Tsurugaoka-hachimangu

Sacred lotus flower: Tsurugaoka-hachimangu

Sacred lotus flower: Tsurugaoka-hachimangu

Water lily flowers: Kaizo-ji

Water lily flowers: Kaizo-ji