May 31, 2011

Radiant Green

Isui-en Garden in Nara, which is a traditional Japanese garden, is almost a secret spot. Because not so many people know this garden even though the garden is incredibly aesthetic.
Isui-en Garden means "Depending on Water Garden". The ponds and brooks enhance its superb beauty and water is drawn from Yoshiki River.
the back garden late May

The garden has special attraction of flowers, trees and plants in each season like other Japanese gardens. What I admire the most in this season is moss. Especially after rain, moss is radiant.

The best season to enjoy viewing moss is one-month-long rainy season and early summer. This year already rainy season started about two weeks earlier than usual.
 Moss is delicate plant which requires proper humidity,temperature, shade and sunlight to grow.
As Isui-en Garden is the depending on water garden, it gives moss ideal environment. It is said that there are 600 or even 2000 varieties of moss in Japan. It tells Japanese people really love moss.

Tiny flowers of moss are in full bloom now, reaching out the sun.

In Japanese culture, moss is highly appreciated and the gardens carpeted with moss are the symbol of tranquility, serenity and profoundness. It takes moss a long time to grow and cover the land surface. It reminds us of patience, continuity or auspicious things.

But there is a saying “A rolling stone gathers no moss.” I wonder whether moss is good or not in this saying or in different culture.

As the name of the garden shows, no matter where you go in the garden, you  feel water.
Small cascade. If you feel it big, the small cascade looks big.

water lily in full bloom

A set of green tea and dry sweets is served at the price of 500 or 700 yen. It is good
 to spend luxury time having tea and viewing the garden.

The garden is short distance from Todai-ji Temple  and near the main road, but the garden is serene and solitude as if it were cut away from the rest of the world. In spring, you can hear bush warblers singing. This is the place where you enjoy the condensed beauty of nature in the different dimension. 
This garden is not a  moss garden. It is famous for beautiful flowers.
Camellia, Ume in winter, Sakura( cherry flowers) in spring,  Lotus flower in summer,Autumn leaves and more.     

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May 23, 2011

Amazing Power of Trees

They are the columns made of Japanese cypress in Horyu-ji Temple which was rebuilt around the beginning of the 8th century and designated as a world heritage site in 1993. The main hall, the five story pagoda and the middle gate in the temple compound  are considered to be the oldest wooden structures in the world.
 the middle gate of Horyu-ji Temple

Take a close look at the column.  This column along with other ones has supported the structures for 1300 years.  It tells us the immense vital power of Japanese cypress as well as the history of the repairs made during 1300 years.

The ancient builders had already known well  the strength of the Japanese cypress - the fittest and strongest natural materials for construction in Japan. It is said that one thousand- year-old cypress will live another one thousand years and two thousand-year-old one will live another two thousand years in the different way after being cut down.  If you touch any of them,  you will feel sensational energy through your hands.

This is one of a pair of Nio Guardians in the middle gate. It looks different as being viewed from the back.

 I'm wondering how long this magnificent building constructed of steel and concrete will continue to exist.
Kyoto Station photoed in December, 2010

In Nara Park, tiny propellers of maple trees are ready to fly.

In the grounds of Kasuga Grand Shrine, there are many old and magnificent camphor trees. It is said that the trees have been considered as divine because of their mysterious smell. People scarcely visit here where this amazing camphor tree stands with dignity.

Though the trunk is completely hollow and  has even  three big holes, amazingly enough  the tree is  growing and thriving.  The inside of the trunk is charred partially. I guess probably these damages were brought by a lightning. The tree looks like a circularly-curved wall.

Looking up to the sky through the hollow.

At dusk, this camphor tree is spotlighted by a setting sun and gently watching the deer browsing as if it were a guardian of them.
Another amazing  camphor tree is  also in the grounds of Kasuga Grand Shrine.  Tree young camphor trees were planted in 1908 and over the years they started to stick together. Now they look like one huge camphor tree.
The buds of camphor flowers are going to burst very soon.

My favorite is this Japanese cedar tree in Todai-ji Temple . It seems to show  almost all of its roots on the ground.  The photo is only part of the roots.

 I just look at the immense energy of nature in awe.

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May 20, 2011

Reflection, Which One Do You Like?

This is the sunset that  I viewed  in Osaka. Every second, the town  was changing its face. Which one do you like the best?

                                                         Click to see the rules and to take a badge for yourself.

May 17, 2011

Paradise of Wisteria・・・

wild wisteria flowers

 Early May, Nara Park becomes the paradise of wisteria flowers where both wild  and caltivated ones are in full bloom.  I love wild wiseria flowers.

This is my secret place to enjoy wild wisteria flowers, which  is part of the grounds of Kasuga Grand Shrine . Crossing a small brook, a gently rolling grass land with the mysterious legends appears before your eyes. Here is the utopia of the deer and wild wisteria.
Now deer are  shedding winter fur.

When Nara was the capital of Japan in the 8th century, the Fujiwaras were the most powerful and rich clan. They expanded their political power through marriage with the Imperial family.  Fujiwara means "Wisteria Field" and they loved wisteria flowers.

However, wisteria trees are doomed that they can not live or  grow without coiling other trees. The tree looks like entire wisteria tree, but the vines of the wisteria are coiling  and squeezing a  big tree and climbing up to the top to  bloom.

The coiling vines of the wisteria look like squiggling  huge snakes. The flowers are very beautiful and the color of the flowers is noble, but under the blooming flowers such quiet struggles have taken place. Maybe these coiling vines of wisteria trees are the legacy to symbolize the ancient power struggles fought among the Fujiwaras and the imperial family and other powerful clans.

This is more than 800 year-old  "Sunazuri-no-Fuji (Touching the Sand Wisteria ) in front of the sanctuary of Kasuga Grand Shrine. This wisteria is very  famous for its long clusters. The clusters are so long that they almost touch the sand or the ground. Last Year, the longest cluster was measured 1.6 meres in length.

 Kasuga Grand Shrine was founded as a guardian shrine of the Fujiwaras, 
so  shrine maidens wear the crown of wisteria.

In Kofuku-ji Temple, a guardian temple of the Fujiwara family

The wisteria season  has already passed and the petals of the flowers are resting on lanterns.

On the way back home, I saw this sunset. The clouds reminded me of feathers of a phoenix.

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May 11, 2011

Everything is Melted in Green Breeze

Now, Nara Park is amid the whirlpool of lush verdure of young leaves. The sunlight goes through the fresh leaves and flickers them.

 Camphor trees are shedding old leaves and growing new ones.

 Fallen leaves look like beautiful autumn foliage. None of them has the same color or pattern. Look at green marble-like patterns, I won’t be tired of viewing them!. But most of people are just passing by them.

In the grounds of Kasuga Grand Shrine, there are many old and magnificent camphor trees. It is said that the trees have been considered as divine because of their mysterious smell.  In olden days, people used to make moth balls from camphor trees to protect clothes from moths.

Camphor tree (left big one), wild wisteria and deer

Wild wisteria flowers in sunset. Flowers in May are wisteria, and people enjoy wild wisteria as well as cultivated ones in the park. In the 8th century, the Fujiwaras were the  most powerful and rich clan.  Their favorite flowers were wisteria as Fujiwara means wisteria field.  That's why so many wisteria around Nara Park.
wisteria leaves

The maple leaves which are rimmed with faint red.
They look like open hands of babies.

A thatched house is surrounded with maple trees. It seems as if it were enveloped in green blazes.( related blog is here,Last Flicker of Subtle Beauty, Mizuya-chaya )

This Haiku was composed on the deadly catastrophe which hit Tohoku district on March 11th. The poem was selected and appeared in Asahi Newspaper. Haiku is the shortest Japanese poem consisting of 5-7-5 syllables

ものの芽の 天地裂くとも 萌えいでよ 斉藤哲也

Even though heaven and earth were split,
by Saito Tetsuya

Not only leaves but also grasses are gorgeous.
Here, people come to enjoy doing nothing.

Deer in early sunset

In sunset

It is hard to introduce all of them. This beauty continues only for a while. The leaves soon grow strong and lose their shy softness and fragileness. I love their fleeting beauty. 

For your reference
Each season has each color. Based on Chinese faith, green or blue represents spring. In olden days, both green and blue were named blue in Japan. No wonder, spring is depicted as green(blue).
Blue or green, spring, 青春
Red, summer、朱夏
White, autumn、白秋
Black, winter、玄冬
Yellow, canicular days 土用

This time, I had hard time to post my blog because of Blogger's  system trouble. I struggled for a long time.  Did n't you have it?(^^;)

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