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.


  1. I love hearing stories or legends about certain places. It's something that's certainly not common here, at least not common knowledge. You live in a fascinating place and tell the stories very well.

    There is a restaurant called Sakura in Tallahassee, Florida, that was one of our favorites while we lived there. I didn't know the meaning or significance of the name. It's a good name for the place.

  2. It's not possible: the path to hell cannot be in such a beautiful field, with lovely trees and deer grazing in the mist. Can it?

    The god Kashima from Ibaraki ... is that the same Kashima that controls Namazu?

    I love reading the old stories and myths of Japan. Thanks! Oh, and also for the stunning photos. ^^

  3. Your photos are mystical, magical and I adore them as I do the stories you tell. Thank you, Keiko.

  4. 最後の一花を落としそうな風の前兆、遥か記憶の彼方からやってきたような鹿たち、そしてこれからの季節の飛火野とそれにまつわる物語。春もおわりに近づいた宵に楽しませていただきました。それにしても幽玄を感じさせる素敵な写真ですね。

  5. A very enchanting post! The stories that the place resounds in is so fascinating, I could imagine it all as I read through your post. It is always nice to go back in time by visiting a place rich in legends of yore, I love it and I felt like I was actually there, in Tobihino field... thanks to your wonderful write up and pretty pictures. Thank you, Keiko.

  6. Your photograph of Sakura in the mist with deers are absolutely magical.

  7. ただただ言葉なく、写真を眺めています。市の中心のすぐ近くなのに、物音ひとつしない穏やかな静寂が周りを包んでいます。

  8. What wonderful history that is still alive.

    Those misty shots are very poetic and beautiful!

  9. Oh so much beauty! I love your pics of the deers!

  10. I am consistently enchanted by your photos - and especially like the deer and Sakura blossoms. the misty photos are moody and introspective and very beautiful. I look forward to seeing the wisteria flowers of May. happy week to you Keiko.

  11. Misterios stories and misty pictures... Amazing effect! I ecpesially adore the picture with deers, "In May, here becomes the paradise"... So it looks. Thank you very much!

  12. This looks such a magical place and your words and photos shared it with us so well. I can feel the mist and imagine the deer. It must be wonderful to visit! x

  13. Keiko,these early morning images are magnificent,you must have been out at the crack of dawn to catch this! I love the accompanying stories,life must have been quite precarious then,always one step away from hell,or heaven.
    Have you thought of going on your search without compass and just tuning in through your body.Actually,viewing your photos, it appears to me that the whole place is a power spot!
    You may find the "Hedge Druid" site interesting,he uses diving rods to locate earth energies.It's on my profile blog list.

    Thanks for sharing the beauty.
    Enjoy your day,

  14. How lovely, Keiko! The deer look so peaceful in the Sakura "snow", and they could absolutely be in the 8th Century, not 2012.

  15. What a great post! I almost feel the breeze of the fresh air in my room :)

  16. Hi Keiko,
    your pictures are so dreamy and tender. i love these pictures! and this legends/ story's are always fascinating to read.
    these misty pictures are as beautiful than only in Japan can be in this world...
    i truly think that japan is the most beautiful place in the whole world..
    have a great week!
    regards from Finland,

  17. 去りゆく桜の季節を飛火野を舞台に幽玄に表現されましたね。車道のすぐ横から広がっているにもかかわらず、昼間でもGW中でもあまり人がおらず(高円山焼以外)、清新,厳か,また神秘的な雰囲気が保たれているのは野守が人となり鬼神となってこの地を守ってきたからでしょうか。ぞくぞくする素敵なポストです。

  18. Keiko-san

    How beautiful all your photos are! The deer in the Tobihino field look so peaceful and lovely! They are really something! I found it very interesting to know that the Emperor lost his hawk while hunting in the Tobihino(Kasugano). This means that in ancient times hunting was frequently done in the area which is now considered to be a part of Kasuga Grand Shrine's sanctuary. In the Tale of Ise, Narihira also hunted there. The story of the mirror, "野守の鏡" intrigued me a lot! It is really an awesome story. I love it.!!

  19. There is so much wonder in this post. The misty fields softening the blooms and deer in the header is amazing. I like the imaginative tales of intrigue about gods and demons and a pond that acts like a crystal ball and mirror. It is also interesting that a hollow tree can continue to grow. For some reason I find this hopeful. :)

  20. walk2write,
    Nara became Capital of Japan in 710 before Kyoto. You will be amazed to find legends everywhere. Some of them have been mixed with historical events.
    Was "Sakura" a Japanese restaurant?
    Sakura or cherry blossoms are iconic flowers in Japan. I am glad you liked it.

    Tobihino is a divine field as it is part of the shrine. Why did they make such a story, there is the hell under the holy field. But, I love this interesting story.
    Yes, he does. He is standing on Namazu. Do you know why he controls Namazu or maybe control earthquakes??

  21. The deears in the mist, and with cherry trees, are so beautiful!

  22. I really like these pictures are pure visual poetry. Fabulous tree.

  23. Thanks for another beautiful and interesting post. The misty fields and the blossoms and deer are just dreamy.

  24. Kashima and Namazu? I don't know why there's a connection between the two. I just know that sometimes Kashima loses concentration or Namazu wriggles too much, and then ... we're in trouble. :(

  25. That looks like a beautiful place. I wonder if the story is related to an ancient earthquake?

  26. Great shots. The misty photos are especially beautiful!

  27. .Ruby,
    As you said, "Hedge Druid" is a very interesting site. I will go back and read it again. I checked "Druid" and "Stone Hedge". They are also mysterious and intriguing.
    I want to read more.

    I will sharpen my compass inside me!! Ancient people must have had keener sense or instinct than we. They chose this place and built the shrine because they felt something. You are right whole area must be a power spot!

    I found there is 要石 Kaname-ishi, keystone in Kashima Shrine. It is said that the stone has been put on the head of Namazu not to move, and Namazu is believed to cause earthquakes. In this district there has been many earthquakes since ancient days.

  28. Oh the mist makes the scene look like England :)

    > to answer your question:

    The male lion has an embroidered ball on its paw. He has his mouth open.
    The female lion has a cub. She has her mouth closed.
    Red ribbons are used for consecration of stone lions.
    There’s a special term for this ceremony, it’s “kai guang” (開光).

  29. Now I'm worried that if I roam and find a new path to follow in Tobihino field, I would be very, very sorry! Your focus points on the deer photos are wonderful. Everything is lushly green there! I enjoyed your post.

  30. 朝もやの中のsutle grace な桜と花びらを踏む鹿達。とても雰囲気のあるショットですね。こういう幽玄な撮りかたもあったのですね。

  31. Thanks a lot for leaving comment.

    The stories of Noh play covers a number of realms such as SF, fantasies, revenge, love, tragedy and so on. Many of the stories are set in Nara because Nara is the hometown of Noh.
    I'm wondering what heaven and hell the deity showed the travelling priest.

  32. The mist does makes the fields look mysterious. Beautiful photos.

  33. Once again I love listening to the tales of your homeland. very beautiful.

  34. I loved reading the stories! The place looks so beautiful!

  35. Absolutely beautiful pictures. The blossoms are so sweet and the deer in the mist are very peaceful.

  36. お久しぶりです。


Thanks a lot for visiting my blog and leaving warm messages. I will visit your site soon. keiko

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