August 23, 2012

What a Wonderful World

I see trees of green, red roses too
I see them bloom for me and you
And I think to myself, what a wonderful world

 Buds of lotus flowers are dozing, dreaming of tomorrow.

"Krokodil Krokodil (わにくん)" by Peter Nickl and Binette Schroeder.  
How beautifully  pure lotus buds are depicted! 
This book was chosen as "The most beautiful book in the world" in 1977.

I see skies of blue and clouds of white
The bright blessed day, the dark sacred night
And I think to myself, what a wonderful world

 "Going through a thatch ring" ceremony for purification

The colors of the rainbow, so pretty in the sky
Are also on the face of people going by
I see friends shaking hands, saying how do you do
They're really saying, I love you

Michael  Jackson Dancing Tribute in Nara

I hear babies cry, I watch them grow
They'll learn much more than I'll ever know
And I think to myself, what a wonderful world
Yes, I think to myself, what a wonderful world

(What A Wonderful World by George David Weiss & G. Douglass)

What A Wonderful World With David Attenborough,  BBC

visit "Our World" and see more!!

August 12, 2012

Great Buddha, Great Cleaning

Once you see the Great Buddha of Todai-ji temple 東大寺 in Nara, you will be overwhelmed by the magnitude. The great Buddha  is 15 meters tall and the largest bronze Buddhist statue in the world. 

His face is 5.3 meters long.  He is the Cosmic Buddha, 
representing the infinite universe.

 "Ceremony of Cleaning the Great Buddha" is held every year on August 7th . The Great Buddha takes a bath once a year. This is a good chance to see in person how huge the Buddha is! 

Before the cleaning ceremony, a special ritual is held to remove the soul of Great Buddha.  So that stomping on his  head,  slapping his face to wipe off dust with dusters and mops won't be blasphemous. 

About 150 priests, worshipers and volunteers clad in white are honored to clean the Great Buddha and collect at least 10 buckets of dust.

"A Voyage to Lilliput" in  "Gulliver's Travels"??         

That tickles! 

The history of the Great Buddha is the history of destruction and restoration. The most part of the pedestal is the original cast in 752. The torso dates back to 1580. And the head was newly cast in 1692.  That's why his face is more black and shining compared with his body. There is the time difference of about 100 years between the face and the body.

 His hand is more than 2.5 meters long.

This is a secret door to climb up to the top of the head. 
The door is at the lower back.  The inside of the Great Buddha is hollow 
and the huge wooden frames are inserted to support the statue.

5 meter tall lotus flower

The great cleaning is finished. Now Great Buddha becomes more handsome and is happily smiling. 

They are going home.

Lotus flowers are symbolic and divine flowers in Buddhism. Event though lotus flowers grow in muddy ponds, the stalks rise high above the ponds and the flowers bloom purely.

Visit "Our World" and see more!!

August 06, 2012

Wind Chime Temple

When wind chimes catch summer breezes, they make cool sounds all together. Here is Ofusa Kannon Temple in Kashihara City, Nara Prefecture.

On this day, a blue sky was high, and a mercury in the thermometer got higher and higher exceeding 36 degree Celsius!!

You can see where the winds are passing.

To overcome a notorious summer of Japan, we have exercised our wisdom to the maximum and created many ways to produce that "cooler feeling"  since olden days.  To hang wind chimes is one of them. The wind chimes make winds visible and audible. 

According to a legend, a young lady named Ofusa found Kannon, Buddhist deity of mercy and compassion, riding on a white turtle in a pond in 1650.  She built a small hall to enshrine this Kannon by the pond. This is the origin of this temple and the reason why this temple was named Ofusa Kannon Temple.

I do not know when "Wind Chime Festival" started in the temple. Every summer in July and August, the temple precincts are decorated with  2500 wind chimes.

The bells swing and make crystal sounds in the wind. 
Can you see and hear cool breezes?

Wind chime are derived from wind bells (風鐸 ふうたく) hanging from the eaves of temples in China.  When  Buddhism was introduced to Japan in 552, the wind bells were brought together.
The sounds made by swinging wind bells drive away evil.  In Yakushi-ji Temple.

In ancient days, what were people afraid of the most in summer? It was to get sick of rotten food or water. Nowadays we do not need so much to worry about bad food or water during summer thanks to refrigerators, freezers, tap water and so on. But, still summer is the worst season when  it comes to food poisoning.

Don't you think it is a good idea to decorate the temple with a number of wind chimes during midsummer to drive away diseases and also make people feel cool?

                                           Wind chimes please the eye and ear.  
For me they look dancing.

The neighboring area is lined with traditional Japanese townhouses. 
I love Japanese traditional houses made of wood, paper and earth.
How lovely and charming they are!! They remind me of Naramachi Town. 

Japanese bell-flowers in rain