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Monday, July 5, 2021

Soaking in the greenery at Sagano

Japan is in the middle of a long rainy season which usually lasts throughout June to July.
This year , it started much earlier in mid-May, so we have a longer rainy season.
I'm so thankful for being able to enjoy this relatively cool weather prior to the sizzling,
 scorching high summer.
Those who are suffering in disasters by torrential rainfall are in my prayers and thoughts.

Moss Garden of Gio-ji, 2015

It was  one  day in June six years ago when I visited Gio-ji Temple deep in Sagano after an overnight rainfall.
The small temple could be the greenest place on this planet with thick moss, green maples, 
 and other surrounding trees.
Not only the temple but also the whole course to the temple is beautiful and soothing.


Sagano in Arashiyama district is a hilly area of western Kyoto. 
There are many historic sites with great scenery in rich nature.
To enter Sagano, you walk on Togetsu-kyo Bridge which stretches across the Katsura River.
It was first built in the Heian period (794-1191).
After crossing the bridge, you're welcomed by the charming stone Buddhist statues.


Sagano Bamboo Forest is one of the most popular tourist destinations.
It is on the list of “100 soundscapes of Japan” for its distinct rustling sounds of the bamboo leaves.
 Sunlight filters through the densely packed grove. 

More details about bamboo, The beauty and strength of bamboo (2011)


A trail cuts through in the middle of the bamboos.


Walking through the area, in the bamboo forest, under the green tunnel, by the small brook 
or a cozy tearoom when air feels heavy with lots of moisture,
 you'd feel like soaking in dripping essence of the greenery.





After passing by many famous temples, I reached the Gio-ji  Temple.
Tranquility and solitude in the moss garden (2015) is my post  about the temple.
If Gio-ji is new to you, I really would like you to have a look at it to share how I felt like 
that I was at the bottom of the sea where little light and sound reach. 

(Similar but not the same  photos with those  in the 2015 post.)





Sagano has been relaxation spot for centuries and had lots of tourism in decades.
Ironically it seems to have restored the stillness due to the pandemic.


With 18 days left to the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics, all the preparations are underway, while Delta variant will peak in mid-to-late July. "Is the Olympics worth all the risks?" has been always in my mind.  The IOC always showed the attitude "go ahead" even under the State of Emergency because Japan's level is just "ripples". Only the IOC can cancel the events by the contract.

The president of the JOC (Japanese Olympic Committee) has been standing strong to realize safe Olympics taking over the role in February this year. Though I've had mixed emotions like many other people, I wish successful events through each one's share of cooperation and patience. The preparation works must have been daunting in the constant changing COVID situation and the corresponding public opinions. We must not let our guard down carelessly.

I wish transparency and genuine spirit of the Olympics are restored in this extraordinary Games.
I root for all the athletes from the world.

I'm having summer break as usual. See you in September.


Linked to Mosaic Monday

Monday, June 21, 2021

Hannya-ji Temple in early summer

July, 2020

Hannay-ji Temple is a charming little temple in the northern part of Nara City, famous for lovely flowers.
Although  it is called "Cosmos Temple" for the autumn flowering cosmoses, Yamabuki (yellow roses) in spring,
Hydrangeas in summer and Narcisuses in winter are are all so lovely.
When I visited last July, mostly Hydrangeas in the deep greenery.
In early June this year,  summer cosmoses were with hydrangeas.
I heard it's difficult to make cosmoses into bloom at this time but the temple staff did it nicely.

June, 2021

 I focused on flowers on the water on this visit.


Cosmos flowers were floating in the water-filled "tsukubai", or water-basin.
To pour water over "Mizukake-Jizo", or Watered Jizo,  is a custom.
The believers throw water full of ladle over the statue of diety and watch it dripping down,
wishing their soul be purified and their wish be fullfilled. 
Tsukubai is not used for that purpose during the pandemic.


Flowers in a bowl.

Hydrangeas in glass cubes.


This Jizo statue was found  in the mountain on the eastside.
According to the engraved epitaph, a cotton maker of Nara Machi had it sculpted for 
his ancestors' soul in 1754.
The rectangular tsukubai basin made of granite was  contributed to the temple between 
1673 and 1680.


"絵馬 Ema", or votive tablet, on which people's wishes are written, is another "charm" of this temple.
It is "pleasant and attractive" to see and have "magic power" to make people's wishes come true.


I love various different designs according to time and occasion.
The tablet of ox with sun-rise and auspicious pine tree and Plunus mume blossoms is for the New Year 2021
and the one with Sakura (flowering-cherry) is for the success of entrance examination.
The start of academic year is Sakura-blooming April in Japan.

"Ema" literary means "picture of a horse."
In the ancient times, it was believed that gods travelled to human realm on horseback.
People donated horses to temples or shrines with their earnest wishes but horses are too expensive.
People started to use a horse figure made of wood, clay, or paper,  and then a wooden plaque
with a horse picture on it.
 The history of ema is  here.


Hydrangeas in front of the old earthen walls give me retrospective feeling 
that this temple has been through the raging waves of long history since its foundation.
The exact foundation time is unclear, but the roof tiles excavated in the precinct was made in 
Nara Period (710-784) and the name Hannyaji appears in the Documents of Shosoin (742).



The simple but refreshingly impressive show of  summer flowers is reported to be
 the idea of the vice-head priest of this temple to make people's visit more enjoyable.


Linked to Mosaic Monday


Monday, June 7, 2021

Rain, a blessing in disguise

Rainy season started in mid-May, its earliest recorded date, in my region.
The official announcement of the start of the rainy season makes people prepared for  
disasters caused by torrential rain.
Warning system was changed to give people more time to evacuate because
these years' intensified extreme rain during short-duration have caused more sudden flash floods .
Fortunately, no rain-related disasters nationwide, so far.
Sunny spell and wet and windy days with occasional heavy downpours have taken turn,
and this week is going to be mostly bright.


During the consecutive  rainfall, I feel that nature and I are all painted over by raindrops.


What with dark skies, humidity, and inconveniences caused by torrential downpour,
 it could be dreary and would feel depressed somehow.
But things are not all that bad as is shown in the photos.

The white flowers were quietly blooming at the foot of a tree mingling with other grasses.
Google lens suggested their name "Yabu-ichige", or Anemone  nemorosa, which is
supposed to have six to seven tepals.
I wonder if the name is correct  or maybe different from European ones,
as the word "ichige" implies that they are native to Japan.

(June 12 - These white flowers are identified "Inu bara", or Rosa canina.
Thanks for Rosemary, Angie, and Littlemancat.)


How nice to be able to walk on water!


 Under the patch of blue skies, air feels heavy with dampness all around.
I wonder how many people are aware that their town is blessed under the rainbow.


These two photos below are the reflections of hedges and brick flower container
of Satsuki azaleas at my house on the side windows or the body of a car.
Usually rainy season arrives after Satsuki azalea is over but at the same time this year.
There is no prospect that early-arrived rains end proportionately earlier.
It could come too early and be going to be too long.


June is half the way from fresh verdure to deep greenery of summer.
During the rainy season, the threads of weeping willows grow rapidly.


Various different shades of colors endure in my garden.




Hydrangeas are the floral symbol of Japan's rainy season.
They already started into bloom about two weeks earlier than usual like most of other species.



Hydrangeas in my garden

Enough rain is necessary for  rice cultivation and reservoirs to supply water 
for the scorching summer.
I've enjoyed this relatively cool season before the arrival of notorious muggy summer,
praying for beneficial rain.

Linked to Mosaic Monday