Monday, March 16, 2020

In the expectation of spring - the Sunlight Sakura and other blossoms

Around the Vernal Equinox Day, “Yoko Sakura” (Cerasus 'Yoko'), one of the varieties of early blooming cherry trees, encourage people that the real arrival of spring is just around the corner.  It has started blooming earlier than usual this year. When I saw it for the first time some years ago, I fell in love with the loveliness of the bright pink petals and the plump swelling buds and was happy to see "Yoko" on its name plate. Both the Sakura 陽光 and my name 洋子, meaning sunlight and ocean child respectively, are written "Yoko" in Roman alphabets.

There is a heart-warming story behind the Sunlight Sakura, about a man who cultivated his own variety of the tree and sent seedlings all over the world as a symbol of peace and friendship between nations. (Source; Blooming Ambassadors)  The story was filmed in 2015, Yoko The Cherry Blossom .

The Sunlight Sakura is a crossbreed between Hikan-sakura (Taiwan Cherry) and  Amagi-yoshino.  It inherited the ability to brave hot and dry climates from the former and the resilience in windy and cold weather from the latter.

The kindergarten life of the boy Y was abruptly stopped Feb, 28 with only two weeks left for the farewell to the teachers and friends.  Not only grandchildren but also adults have felt at loose ends due to the sudden school closure and canceled events and personal activities.  I think school closure is a good idea because the young who generally show no or few symptoms can give SARS-CoV-2 uncounsciou to the people who are likely to develop severe COVID-19 and to die.  Various measures have been taken to slow down the speed of the viruses spreading.  The most important now is to reduce fatalities and to keep medical care system in good shape so that the people with high-risk can be protected and saved.

Japanese cornel has the bright yellow flowers in early spring.

I have often been reminded by my blog friends how many tree blossoms I'm blessed with.  In winter, there are Japanese cornel, Ume (Japanese apricot), Sasanqua camellia, Winter camellia....,to name a few.

Winter Camellias flower during the dull days of winter.

I'm thankful to the blossoms and flowers which have consoled me with their blooms.

Some of the flowers from my garden

The 3rd of March was Dolls' Festival. I only displayed the dolls of the top tier this year.  Despite the sinking mood of the time, grandchildren simply enjoy the time of being together more often than usual as long as no one is ill. The new school year is due to start in three weeks.

The youngest M likes to pose "Rabbit" when photographed.

Though life continues with utmost caution and care, I am not overly scared by the surging number of the confirmed cases worldwide.  If infected in spite of my preventive measures, it can't be helped.  On a positive note, I get antibody to the virus.  Nearly 80 percent of the confirmed cases are mild illnesses, ... though it's uncertain how I'd be.  I'd like to believe that under the wise leadership of the crisis management, each and every one's responsible attitude including preventive measures both not to catch and to spread, orderly act when necessary, and patience, will lead to the overcome of the SARS-Coronavirus-2 as a nation and then as a world.

My prayers and thoughts are with you all.

Monday, February 24, 2020

Ume blossoms at the Kitano Tennmangu


When the east wind blows
spread your scent
you plum blossoms!
Even though you lose your master
don't be oblivious to spring

This is a poem composed by Sugawara no Michizane (845-903),
a gentle scholar and politician, on leaving his home in Kyoto.
Due to the crime fabricated by his political enemy,
he was demoted from his aristocratic rank to a minor official
at the remote Dazaifu and died in exile.

Michizane's innocene was proved after his death.
Kitano Tenmangu Shrine was built in honor of Michizane
as well as for the peace of nation.

"After Michizane's death, plague and drought spread and sons of Emperor Daigo died in succession. The Imperial Palace's Great Audience Hall was struck repeatedly by lightning, and the city experienced weeks of rainstorms and floods. Attributing this to the angry spirit of the exiled Sugawara, the imperial court built a Shinto shrine called Kitano Tenman-gu in Kyoto, and dedicated it to him. They posthumously restored his title and office, and struck from the record any mention of his exile. Even this was not enough, and 70 year later Sugawara was deified as Tenjin-sama, or kami (god) of scholarship. Today many Shinto shrines in Japan are dedicated to him." (Excerpt from here)

"Kitano Tenmangu Shrine is the very first shrine in Japanese history
where an actual person was enshrined as a diety."
Many students visit the shrine wishing their success in entrance examination
as well as their improvement of academic abilities.

The very warm weather let the ume bloom two weeks earlier
 than the last year at the Kitano Tenmangu.
The blossoms must be wafting fragrance in the bracing air and the warm sunlight now.
These photos were taken in the beginning of March last year.
Recently I'v refrained from using public transportation when possible
or outing to the crowded places.

The Ume Garden was supposed to be lit up in the evening.
As a reflection freak, my eyes were glued to the reflections on the surface of candle containers.

At the kindergarten of boy Y, academic year-end performance was held 
prior to the graduation ceremony one month away.
The event features the violin performance by the eldest class members.
Almost all the members have learned playing the violin from scratch since April.
I simply wonder and respect how teachers taught violin to five/six-year-olds.
Children's version of The Grateful Crane, Japanese folktale
Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star, and others

Linked to Mosaic Monday

Monday, February 3, 2020

The color red to ward off evil spirits

Nara-machi Museum

Nara-machi, a quaint, nostalgic, and charming town close to Nara Park, 
is a town of Koshin faith.  
Monkeys made of red cloth are hanged from the eaves of each house 
as substitute monkeys for protecting families inside from diseases and disasters. 
Since the ancient times, red color is believed to be a lucky color to ward off evil spirits. 
The number of the red monkeys show how many people inside they protect.  

An old townhouse, renovated and re-purposed into a gallery cafe

Apart from the scapegoat monkeys.....,
red is eye-catching.
Kafka in Nara-machi?  

I like it when red color is used as an accent.
I chose some unpublished photos in which red spices up the landscape.

The town was getting busier toward the holiday season.

Kobe-ohashi Bridge connecting downtown Kobe and man-made Port Island

So many countries have stepped up fight against the epidemic of the novel coronavirus.
Knowing the fact that about 10000 people dying of influenza in Japan,
I have to be more cautious as unknown disease is frightening. 
But what I've been doing is my habitual preventive measures
when flu and colds are going around.
Personally, flu and noro-virus are more threats in reality so far.
In addition to what is written at Healthy Habits to Help Prevent Flu,
I keep handy packs of alcohol-based sterilized cotton in my bag 
in case soap and water are not available.
Inside the house, I use humidifying air cleaner.
About 50% humidity is thought to make viruses much less active.
More importantly, enough sleep, balanced diet, and exercises
would be necessary not to lower one's immunity.

The first torii gate to the Kasuga Grand Shrine
This photo was published in 2011.
No snow yet in this winter.

Be safe and take care of yourself, everybody worldwide.

Linked to Mosaic Monday