April 23, 2012

Mysterious Field and Sakura

From the morning mist, the deer appear one by one. Through  the fine veils of the dim sun light,  everything looks soft. Here, the Sakura blossoms (cherry blossoms) are passing the last stage.  If one more wind blows, all petals will fall immediately.   I love Sakura in all phases, but now how delicate and subtle grace they show. 

This spacious grass field , which is part of Kasuga Grand Shrine precincts, is called "Tobihino, 飛火野- Flying Fire Field". The name is derived from a myth .

When Nara became the Capital of Japan in 710, the new Capital needed a strong protection. So, the most powerful god was invited to protect Nara. He came from Kashima Shrine in Ibaraki near Tokyo, travelling on the back of a white deer.  The god arrived in Nara at night. To welcome him and light the way, one deity belched fires. But the fires continued to roll over the field  and never went out. The emperor ordered  field guards to take care of the fires. Another theory says that smoke signals were made here in the 8th century. 
That's why the field is called "Flying Fire Field".

The field is also the place where noble people used to take a walk and enjoy picking up spring grasses in Nara Period (710 - 784). Did they see the scene which I see now? Did they see deer appearing like this?
 I feel time has  flown slowly here since ancient times.

They are dressed in the 8th century costumes of noble people.
 (My related blog  Once Upon a Time, My Town Nara)

Tobihino field just before sunset

In May, here becomes the paradise of wild wisteria flowers.

 This tree is a guardian of Tobihino field. Its trunk is completely hollow, but the tree is  growing and thriving.  
 (My related blog, Amazing Power of Trees)

 There is another mysterious story about Tobihino field in Noh play
A travelling priest finds a pond and gets interested in it. He asks an elderly field guard  the name of the pond. The guard answers it is called "野守の鏡、the mirror of a field guard". Because field guards use the pond as a mirror. He continues and says  that  this pond has a special power. When the emperor lost his hawk during hunting, this pond told the location of the hawk in its reflections.  At night the guard transforms himself into a fierce deity and appears with a magical mirror in front of the priest. The deity says that his mirror is the real mirror of a field guard. He shows the priest everything from the hell to the heaven in the reflections of the mirror. When the deity stamps his feet,  the ground is split in two. Inside the ground, the path to the hell appears. The deity climbs down the path and disappears. This story is set in Tobihino field.

Be careful if you find a strange path in Tobihino field. The path might lead you to the hell.

The fierce deity with a magical mirro in Noh play..

If there is a so-called power spot in Kasuga Grand Shrine, I guess it must be somewhere in Tobihino field. So whenever  I come here, I keep a compass. Because  I believe the compass will tell me any change of the magnetic field and pinpoint the power spot. Unfortunately,  my compass has never told me any clue so far.

April 15, 2012

Sakura, Sakura

Asahi newspaper said  in VOX POPULI two years ago, 
 "In romantic relations, it is said that when your are kept waiting by another person, you develop stronger feelings for that  person. Apparently, this year's spring goddess is playing with our motions." 
How true it is!! This spring also, it seems that Spring Goddess kept us waiting and playing  hide-and-seek with us. At last, Sakura or cherry blossoms started to bloom. One day pastel pink mists and clouds appeared here and there like mirage, and gave us a  supreme surprise. But,  but already they started  to flutter. 

Sakura blossoms in the early stage look like shy girls at early adolescence.

Sakura have been long loved by people in Japan. Sakura bloom and fall. And we love from the beginning (even before the beginning)  to the end, every phase of Sakura blossoms. We see beauty in those blooming Sakura, and admire scattering Sakura as 花吹雪‐flower blizzard. Fallen petals on the water are appreciated as 花筏‐flower raft.Transience of nature,  transience of our life.
 I visited Sakura in Nara one rainy day. Maybe, you do not like to go out in a rainy day, especially when you want to take photos. Lights are so weak that scenery seems dim and hazy. But, how serene  the air is  and how comfortably the  sounds are absorbed by rain drops!
Great Buddha Hall of Todai-ji Temple. The Hall is the largest wooden structure in the world.
The footsteps and conversation sound quietly.
 I feel everything so peaceful.  My lens has a rain drop in the centre.

Sakura blossoms near me look more vivid in a rainy day, but a scenery
far away looks hazy. Many petals are fluttering with rain drops.

People are listening to a tour guide at the approach to Great Buddha Hall. 
 Sakura trees are welcoming and listening together with them.

Weeping cherry tree.
In front of Great Buddha Hall there is a huge space surrounded with  many different types of Sakura.
They are in  bloom.

Under Great South Gate, the main entrance gate to Todai-ji Temple,  
the deer take shelter sometimes and go out to welcome the visitors..

The mist is rising and laying among mountains. There are small dots on the grass field.
They are birds. In a spring rain, both deer and birds are resting together.
In Nara Park, Sakura are here and there.

Here is Kasuga Grand Shrine. Kasuga means Spring Day. The shrine has been a strong guardian deity of Nara since it became the capital of Japan in 710.
weeping cherry tree

Part of the corridors of the shrine.

In Kasuga Grand Shrine, there are about 3000 lanterns;  two thousands stone lanterns
and 1000 metal lanterns. But, nobody knows exactly  how many lanterns there are.
So, it is believed that if you can count the exact number of the lanterns at night,
you are promised to be very rich.

One rain and one wind accelerate Sakura falling.
The deer are eating Sakura.

My blogs about Sakura