October 25, 2011


I happened to encounter this lovely exhibition of Bonsai! But the exhibition was going to close and I had only fifteen minutes. I took the photos quickly. Bonsai  are trees or plants which would normally grow large, but which have been trained to grow into the small shapes resembling large trees or plants in nature.

How small are they?
In front of a man,  there are three bonsai in the circle in the first photo.

  A pine tree. Evergreen trees are very popular.

Kaki or persimmon.

 Kaki and pine tree

When I found this exhibition, many of the name tugs of the trees or plants had been already removed as closing time was approaching.

A kind of fern.

It takes a lot of time to grow ideal Bonsai, maybe a few years, decades or even hundreds. It is amazing that a tiny tree or plant has the same  shape of a big tree or plant in nature. In Bonsai which are just a few tens of centimeters tall, the beauty and dynamism of nature is compressed.

The basic techniques of Bonsai are to wire, prune  and transplant trees.

Why is Bonsai so popular in Japan? I think it is because Japan has a large population but a small land. And most of population is concentrated in big cities. So it is difficult for  many of us to live in a  house with a big garden. We can raise Bonsai on shelves in front of our houses or on the balconies.

Cosmos is passing the best time・・・

  Autumn leaves are falling・・・

Visit "Our World" and learn more !!

October 18, 2011

Nostalgic Autumn

 Around the harvest, paddy fields turn deeper gold and  rice plants proudly bow their heads. 
Transparent autumn wind gently blows and touch their heads. 
Cluster amaryllis are blooming and swinging with rice plants side by side. 
 This is my  image of  nostalgic autumn. 

         Two weeks ago, I went to Aska in Nara, the ancient capital
which is famous for terraced paddy fields and ancient burial mounds.  

The figures in the above photo are not the farmers or visitors, but the scarecrows
made by the farmers to please the eye of the visitors.
This rural area is a mecca for photographers.

Here, even  Buddha  serves as a scarecrow to protect the paddy fields. 
I appreciate and am thankful for the farmers' hard work. I can imagine how heavy labour is needed for them to maintain these beautiful terraced paddy fields. I guess it is impossible to use machines.  The terraced paddy fields may be doomed to disappear,  but I do hope this intact  scenery will be passed down to the future generation forever.

 More rice is ripe, more it bows deeply. It teaches us the importance to be humble.   

 The view of Asuka  from a small hill in early dusk.

Rice is more than staple food in Japan. It has been deeply connected to our daily life and embedded in Japanese culture.  And  rice cultivation is also closely associated with Shinto or indigenous religion of Japan. Rice is food to the soul of the Japanese.
During the new year's holidays, we eat rice cakes and display a set of two rice cake, one large and one small, at the alcove to celebrate the  new year and pray for happiness and health.

Sake or rice wine is offered to Shinto deities every day.
Sake barrels displayed in Kasuga Grand Shrine are donated from Sake brewing companies.

A sacred rope made of twisted  rice straws marks the location as a sacred site
and separates the ordinary world from the divine world.

Around the time when cherry flowers to start to bloom in spring, farmers start to seed rice.
Before the season of seeding rice, Shinto ritual "Rice Planting Ceremony" is held to pray for abundant harvest all over Japan.  The ritual in photos is held in Kasuga Grand Shrine in March every year. They are eight shrine maidens.

 In June, a rainy season, farmers transplant young rice in a paddy field.

 Now is October. Harvest is over and bundles of rice straws are dried.

Cluster amaryllis

Visit "Our World" and learn more !!

October 10, 2011

Necessary Evil?

At the deer pen

There is a time when we have to accept necessary evils in our life.
I guess this  "Antler Cutting Ceremony" is one of them.  It takes place at  the deer pen in Kasuga Grand Shrine in Nara  annually in October. But if you know the reason why this ceremony started about 300 years ago, you will think it can not be helped. There are about 1100 wild deer roaming around Nara Park.

Autumn is the mating season for deer. Male deer become very wild and sharpen their antlers by thrusting them into gravels or the ground.  The antlers become as sharp and pointy as a knife. In 1671, to prevent the possible accidents and injuries to people and the deer themselves,  Nara Magistrate's Office ordered to cut their antlers annually.  Kofuku-ji Temple , the then strongest guardian of the deer, reluctantly accepted the order. 

The male deer are rounded up and put into the pen. The Seko(勢子) or attendants lasso the deer.

People pay 1000Yen as an entrance fee  to watch the ceremony, which will be the  financial sources to the Nara Deer Protection Organization.

The man in a traditional male costume cuts the antlers with a saw.
 It does not hurt the deer at all, just like  we cut the  hair or nails.

But, look at the desperate, panicking eyes of the deer.
How much stress and scare this ceremony gives to the deer・・・

without the antlers

Next spring, new antlers grow. Young antlers are soft and warm as the blood vessels are in the antlers to carry nutrition to them. When antlers stop to grow, the blood vessels disappear.

Just for your reference: A deer has gentle horizontal pupils.

From the 8th to the middle of the 19th centuries, the deer had been strictly  protected  as the divine messengers of the deity of Kasuga Grand Shrine by  Kofuku-ji Temple and the then authority. If you killed a deer, you were executed.

  Now, the world of wild deer and the one of people are intricately overlapped.  There, people have managed to live closely and peacefully with the wild deer overcoming various issues.  It is not easy task at all! Nara Park is said to be the only one precious and unique place in the world. I think this is the great experimental place to find out whether we can live with wild animals or not. I do hope we can do. The deer in Nara Park are designated as a national natural treasure and loved as the symbol of Nara by people.
 Not even subtle line between two worlds

 If you are interested in the deer in Nara Park, please read my other blogs.
From Country of Deer
Horn Gather Antlers
Nara deer are very smart!

My blog friend, Fairview posted her blog "Nara Deer Park"  where she visited a few years ago. Here, there are interesting information and lovely photos on the deer in Nara Park!  And Video too!
  Early sunset in the park

Visit "Our World" and learn more !!

October 04, 2011

Song in praise of autumn!

In the evening, insects can be heard chirping in the grass. Crickets, grasshoppers and more beautifully sing a song in praise of autumn after sunset.

Pampas grasses are singing and  reaching for the heaven.

 Unknown grasses are singing and  swaying in the wind.

Cosmoses too…

 Tiniy day flowers also …

The sky and the moon join them singing the song in praise of autumn together.

But, what  the butterfly would  do?

Visit "Our World" and learn more !!