April 07, 2014

Once a year, heaven appears in Nara Park.



Two years ago, I heard a conversation of two men. When I was taking photos in Nara Park, two men near me were talking about Sakura - cherry blossoms.  Both of them were in their mid-30s. One of them lived in Nara and guided his friend around the park. He said, "Cherry blossoms here are beautiful. However, there are many places where more beautiful cherry blossoms are. But, look at deer eating fallen petals of Sakura.  This place turns into Heaven! " His friend quietly nodded saying, " Yes, yes. How true it is!"


I had not been able to write blogs nor to go out to take photos for a long time. Last spring, my husband got cancer. After a surgical operation, he had complications. It took him long time to recover.  Now,  he is slowly getting better.  My blog friends, I thank you  a lot for your warm concerns about me. I was very very glad, but I was too exhausted to do anything.  The above is my first photo taken in Nara Park after a year.  Life is beautiful, isn't it!!

March 12, 2013

Pray for Tohoku, 3.11


On March 11th, 2011, devastating earthquake hit Tohoku Region of Japan. The great earthquake triggered Tsunami and leakage of radiation from the destroyed nuclear power plants.  15,881 people were killed, 6,142 people were injured, and 2,668 people were missing. A number of people have still been tormented.

Yesterday (on March 10th) I was in Todai-ji Temple.  It  was a rainy day, but around a sunset it stopped. Sunlight came out of thick dark rain clouds.  The sunlight looked as if benevolent saving hands of Kannon Bodhisattva, Buddhist deity of mercy and compassion, had reached us and given hope.

The big roof in silhouette is the one of Great Buddha Hall of Todai-ji Temple.


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February 13, 2013

Funny, Stupid, But My Favorite


In Nara Park, there is an unique contest! You will never be able to find like this even if you search for it all over the world.  It is  "Deer Cracker Throwing Contest" which is held a few times a year on the hillside of Mt. Wakakusa, Nara Park where wild deer live and mingle with people.

The participants of the contest throw a bigger deer cracker than usual and compete the distance. But,  you can imagine what will happen as soon as a cracker is thrown. The cracker comes apart and goes into the stomachs of the deer as soon as it lands on the field. It is difficult not only to throw a super-light cracker but also to measure the distance.This contest is very very funny and stupid, but I love it very much!


The first contest of this year was held on 26th January, it was windy day. All day long strong winds blew and violent gusts of winds curled. Sometimes a cracker returned with a strong wind like a boomerang. One woman got the poorest record, minus 5 meters. The winner  was a man whose record was 36.8 meters. He was awarded with a trophy of deer antlers!

The followings are interesting dramas between people and deer!

In winter, January 2013.
 Glacial winds numb his or her hands. But all of People and deer are enjoying and happy!



 






In summer, August 2012.
           Always before a contest starts, many deer are waiting ! In August, 2012. 




Carps in a pond are half hibernating.

But, in an icy air, the sunlight shows the promise of coming spring.

"Happy Valentine" from the deer with white hearts, in Nara Park.

February 01, 2013

Sign of Spring, Grass Burning Ceremony



Every year , "Grass Burning Ceremony" in Mt. Wakakusa is held on the forth Saturday of January. This ceremony is the most spectacular and popular event in winter Nara. This year it was held on 26th January.

Since ancient times, fire has long been used for purification and cleansing both in Buddhism and Shintoism in Japan.

There are many spots to enjoy watching the event. I watched it at the foot of Mt. Wakakusa.
  300 firefighters are ready for "Grass Burning Ceremony" with their fire engines.

Before the ceremony, a dancing entertainment is  held on a temporarily built stage.
 "Passion"


Elegant and exotic with Chinese fragrance.

Sento-kun is a holy boy with deer antlers, who was chosen as a mascot for the 1300th anniversary of the transfer of the capital to Heijo-kyo Nara in 2010.
 Now he is a super star.!

The sacred fire is carried to the foot of Mt. Wakakusa.  They make a bonfire. 

The Buddhist monks of Todai-ji Temple and Kofuku-ji Temple, and Shinto priests of Kasuga Grand Shrine perform a small ritual.

A number of fireworks are launched. They are so big!! 

300 firefighters set the mountain on fire.



Huge walls of fire and smoke appear and overwhelm us. Walls are swelling and swirling,
 being buffeted by gusts of wind.  What a dynamic scenery it is!!
The area of 33 hectares is burnt down in 30 minutes.

"Grass Burning Ceremony" dates back to 1760. But its origin is not clear. One theory says the mountain was set fire to solve the boundary dispute between temples and a shrine near the mountain. Other theory says someone started to set fire to console the ghost's spirit which haunted around a small tomb on the top of the mountain. Also it is said that the mountain was burnt to drive away wild boars. 

People in Nara see every phase of seasons in every festival or ceremony. "Grass Burning Ceremony" has long been seen as  a harbinger of spring.  The subtle hint of spring exists even in the icy air. When spring comes here, fresh sprouts will spring up out of the ashes.  To burn the mountain is also for rejuvenation of the mountain.

My related blog,  "Fire for Purification".(Click here.)



On 28th January, two days after the ceremony, Nara Park was covered with snow.
 Mt. Wakakusa is over there.






December 29, 2012

Come and Go

May the coming new year be the best 

for all of you, all people and all beings throughout the world. 


At this time of the year, holidays illumination events are held all over Japan. What do people think, walking under the ephemeral light of the stars? 



    I feel as if the stars were falling over us.

I imagine how the night sky of the olden days looked like. It must have been filled with subtle and transient light of stardust.  Now we are enjoying the artificial star falling night. Beautiful but I  miss the genuine  star falling night. 
 A tiny moon is over the blue twinkling stars.


Tohoku(東北) Hnad in Hand. We have prayed for Tohoku.

2012 is going to close the curtain and New Year is coming around soon.  We look back on 2012 ,and wish the coming new year the happiest and most peaceful.
A year comes and goes silently and surely.

Thank you, all my friends, for visiting my blog and leaving your warm messages.

See you next year!

keiko

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December 10, 2012

Nothing Special or Something Special

I have been amazed with the speed, I mean, everything comes and goes too fast. A few days ago, I still enjoyed the remains of beautiful autumn, but yesterday, Nara had the first snowfall of the season. And today we had the coldest day of this winter. 

Yesterday (December 9th) in Nara 

Nara had the first snow on 9th December.

Snow was melting and tiny water drops were dripping  under a dull sky.

When taking photos, I heard the sound of drums echoing. "Nara Marathon" began! This is an annual event.
About 10,000 people participated in the marathon. Many of them seemed not to mind a record, but just to enjoy running.




They were cheering up the participants with drum sounds.


A few days ago in Kyoto

Many of leaves were losing glowing autumn colors and turning muted earth colors. But they looked even more profound and tasteful.




Fallen leaves were dancing a farewell waltz in water.

Autumn was disappearing, leaving beautiful footprints.



Here I met a refined camerawoman.  We had a pleasant time to enjoy the last autumn and its reflections on a wooden floor. We took photos lying on our stomachs. Otherwise the reflections could not be captured. It must have be a funny scene if somebody had seen two women lying on the floor and taking photos.



Merry Christmas cappuccino to you
in my favorite cafe


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