2012 is the year of the dragon. Each year has each animal name based on the twelve animal zodiac signs introduced from China. The twelve animals are mouse, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, cock, dog and wild boar. I wonder why the eleven animals are real, but only the dragon is imaginary.
These are some of New Year's cards sent by my friends. Which dragon do you like?
Dragons in Japan are divine. They are the deities of water which gather clouds and give blessed rain to farmers. They never breathe out fire like many of the dragons in western countries nor are doomed to be vanquished by dragon slayers. Also a green or blue dragon is a directional guardian of east .
In the grounds of a temple or a shrine, there is a dragon on a water basin.
Water is pouring out of the mouth, and people wash their hands and rinse their mouths
to purify themselves before praying.
There are many objects whose names have the Chinese character "龍" meaning a dragon in them. Especially many of the temples and ponds contain 龍 or dragon in their names.This is a pond in Shugakuin Imperial Villa in Kyoto. The island in the pond looks like a swimming dragon. So this pond is called Yokuryu-chi pond "浴龍池"meaning "Swimming Dragon" pond.
It is believed that people have different destiny and character according to what year of the animal sign they were born in. The people who were born in the year of the dragon, are said to be very assertive, idealistic, proud, intelligent and have strong belief, and more. Do you believe it? If you were born in 2000, 1988, 1976, 1964, 1952, 1940, 1928, 1916・・・・・, you are the person of the dragon sign.
On 7th January, I went to a botanical garden in Kasuga Grand Shrine to pay homage to the tree nicknamed Garyuu"臥龍" which means "Lying Dragon". The tree is a gigantic Ichii-gashi ( a kind of an oak tree) on a small island in a pond of the botanical garden.
The tree was blown down by the heavy wind, but it never gave up growing. For me it looks like it has a strong will to live. With the lying trunk covered with moss, it has continued to grow up to the sky. As the shape of the tree looks like the lying dragon, people have called the tree "lying Dragon" oak. This tree is also a guardian of the garden. I am always amazed with this powerful energy of the tree and look at it with awe. No wonder, people see the divinity in the tree.
It was a fair winter day. I walked around the garden where there was no visitors but me. The garden was only for me!
Let's walk for a while.
In the pond, there are a lot of Koi carps which usually beg food noisily,
but now they are very quiet. They are half-hibernating.
Dry leaves look like butterflies!
An auspicious mushroom.
Ornamental cabbages look like peony flowers. They are popular as New Year's decorations along with bamboo, pine and Japanese apricot.
On the left Melia azedarach flowers are in full bloom.( Photo was taken in May, 2011)
Oh, harbingers of spring!
Fruits of Rosa multiflora
My related blog to this botanical garden ：
Paradise Flowers Come Out of 2000-Year Sleep.
Near the botanical garden is a Japanese restaurant where I ate lunch. This is rice porridge cooked with seven wild herbs of spring. We eat the rice porridge with seven spring herbs to give a rest to the stomach as well as pray for our health on January 7th. We ate a lot of delicious food and rice cakes during New Year's holidays. So, the stomach is tired.
Falkor, the luckdragon with Bastian on the back appears in the sky!
A cup of cappuccino has a dragon.