Monday, September 10, 2018

Recalling the sounds of summer .......

Hello, long time, no see!  With the arrival of September, it has gotten a little cooler.  How was your summer or winter?  Much of the northern hemisphere seems to have experienced a record scorching summer.  

“It never rains but it pours.” is so true recently. Japan has been hit by several destructive weather-related disasters and earthquakes one after another in a few months. In my previous post, I wrote about torrential rains that killed more than 220 people with landslides and the deadliest floods in more than 30 year.  Then came deadly heat wave with little rain except the thunder storms with lightening. At the hard-hit areas, people worked hard sweltering in the sizzling sun without tap water for long after the devastation. Temperatures were 2 to 3 degrees C above normal for many cities.  

As to the super typhoon #21 last Tuesday, the peak time of high tide caused the highest storm tide on record to strike seafront facilities including KIX. The forecast wind speed, maximum wind speed of 60m/s, was accelerated near tall buildings to more destructive 80m/s at one place in a moment.  I was reminded of the risk of the skyscraper wind effect which I was unaware living in a laid-back city. Two days later, a big earthquake in Hokkaido cracked roads, caused landslides and massive blackout.  What will be the next?  I'm so thankful that in the series of the natural disasters, Nara has not been affected or when affected, I've been safe with almost no damages.

Let's not forget the love and the beauties on this planet filled with light.

Taken with iPhone camera, several hours before the typhoon #20 hit on the 22nd of August

First of all, I recalled the calamities of this summer in the paragraphs above,
listening to the Japanese wind chime "fu-rin."
The clear and outworldly sound of  fu-rin takes me into daydreaming,
evoking emotion or memories of the past.

Fu-rin is hung from the eave in the long summer of Japan 
to suggest the coolness of a breeze.
They are made of cast iron, pottery, glass, and so on.
"Edo furin" is one of the most popular ones;
the glass painting is done from the inside in order to protect the colors.

Cicadas' singing is also special sound of summer in Japan.
Leaving the cast-off shell alone, cicadas praise their life in chorus
despite their vulnerable state with predators above the ground.

Digging to the surface, emerging from one to five years underground life,
climbing a tree, shedding their exoskeletons at night, 
they announce their return with their shrill chirps.
Is it a cacophony or a euphony to you?
To me, their voices sound dazzling, shining with the morning sun.

The 5-year-old boy Y knows the six common species 
and has started to recognize them by ear for their specific song.
The cicadas flew to freedom after being observed and having a rest.

with iPhone camera

As usual summer, the cheerful voices sounded at my home during their summer break.

How about this photo for the grand finale of this post?
The launched fireworks to light up the sky in a blaze of fleeting glory
is the thing of summer historically.
Since I took this photo handheld, I captured the moment without light trails.
Can you hear the sound?

Linked to Mosaic Monday

Monday, July 9, 2018

Picture windows at 宝泉院 Hosen-in

Abnormal, extreme weather seems to be happening on global level. Thank you for your concern about the latest devastating torrential rain in wide areas of Japan.  Following the hot and dry rainy season,  a low pressure system and an active rain front brought historic heavy rain. Special weather warnings about the torrential rain that had never experienced before and evacuation orders were issued  many places especially northern Kyushu and some prefectures of western Japan. After the four consecutive rainy days, the sun appeared at last yesterday. The numerous scars left by the disaster are reported one after another. At least 100 are dead and about 60 are missing so far due to the deadly flooding or landslides. (At least 200 are dead. July 12)

Fortunately Nara was not seriously affected because the duration of the torrential rain was relatively short.  But the intense downpour of the night seemed like the end of the world and reminded me of Noah's ark.  Thank you again for your concern.  

Well, let's change the subject to the beneficial aspect of nature.

 I like to stroll around in the relatively cool air of the rainy season,
viewing the scenery drenched in the deep green,
like Gio-ji (Tranquility and Solitude in the Moss Garden) three years ago.
Hōsen-in stands deep inside the rural Ohara, Kyoto.
Around when you pass behind Sanzen-in (Late April at Sanzen-in Gardens), 
calming Buddhist chanting starts to fill the air.
 Do you like tasting the sound of air and water?

On reaching the Hosen-in, you're welcomed by the stone Buddhist statues.

At the Hosen-in, people look at the garden like looking at a picture. 
The garden Bankan-en 盤桓園 is framed  like a painting by the pillars of the tatami-mat room.
The red carpet is for the visitors to sit on.
How about a bowl of green tea and a sweet, which is included in the entrance fee
while looking at the garden?

This pine tree is said to be 700 years old.
So massive and powerful with almost divine aura.

Two bamboos stuck out from the floor is to hear “水琴窟 suikinkutsu”, 
buried earthen jar that makes sound when water drips into it.
Water drips from the nearby "tsukubai."
When you put your ear to the hollow bamboo utensil,  
you enjoy the tone quality of water-dripping that echoes from the underground 

One of two bamboos on the right
Other tsukubai basins  to purify yourself.

A few more of the framed nature.

Another garden, 宝楽園 Horaku-en, is about 300 years old dry landscape Zen garden
featuring a tsukubai water basin with neatly arranged stones around it,
a raked gravel mountain, 
ups and downs with stone steps, a small shrine, etc.

This is the 700-year-old pine tree seen from the outside of the Bankan-en.

Thank you for your visit as always.
I'll have a long summer break in blogging and commenting till September.  
Wish you a pleasant summer, winter, or whatever the season,
 and no disasters both natural and man-made. 

Here's M who turned 7 month today.
Her way of exploring the world;
rolling over, picking up and throwing, sucking toys, chewing on her toes, etc.
See you in September!

Monday, June 18, 2018

岩船寺 Gansen-ji Temple in the various shades of hydrangea

Japan is in the middle of the one-month rainy season. 
Hydrangeas bloom during this season, coloring the streets, parks, temples
 in the shades of pink, purple, and blue.  
As “hydr-” shows, constant moisture is required to keep the flowers 
blooming healthy and happy.

Gansen-ji Temple (729) located in Kizugawa City, Kyoto prefecture,
 is called “Hydrangea Temple” together with Yata-dera Temple.
Three-storied pagoda (1442) standing with the forest of solemn, massive Japanese cypresses in the back
 welcomes visitors with hydrangeas, when they enter the gate. 

Before strolling around, I prayed to a stone image of Jizo,
which Japanese people call "o-jizo-sama" affectionately.
Known as a guardian of children and travellers,
o-jizo-sama's traditional role is to save people from the torments of living hell.

Stone standing statue of “Fudo Myoo” (Acala, one of the Five Wisdom Kings)
I associate hydrangeas with o-jizo-sama.
Hydrangea's many petals or variety of colors look reflecting o-jizo-sama 
appearing in many different figures to save people.

At the pond edged by hydrangeas, light and wind play around.

Steps leading to the Belfry

"Kaizan-do Hall, a temple hall commemorating its founding or founder beside the pond.

Red lace-cap hydrangeas bloom at the one corner
not to disturb the overall color harmony of the precinct.

Close to the temple gate outside the temple, there is a stone bathtub (Kamakura period: 1192-1333)
in which monks seem to have purified themselves.
This place must have been a bathroom long long time ago
when the temple flourished.

I hope you enjoyed this hydrangea walk at the Gansen-ji.

Linked to Mosaic Monday

“Disaster strikes when you least expect it.”

Barely before 8:00 a.m. today, the next day of my visit to Gansen-ji, I was so scared with the unusually strong quakes. I thought it could be Nankai Trough Earthquake but actually the epicenter is in the northern Osaka prefecture. It is a six-minus on a scale of zero to seven on Japan’s seismic intensity scale. Nara City was five-minus.  As I watch TV, there are numerous kinds of damages like knocked over walls, scattered fires, half or complete collapsed houses, disrupted commute, halted transportation, etc. …..and most sadly victims. As time passes by, more damages are reported and as I write this, I felt three weak tremors as afterschocks, so weak that you don’t notice when you’re in action or in vehicles.  Don't be concerned, dear Friends.  Nara is much less affected that we go on usual  living without any inconvenience.... so far.  Knocking on woods.