Monday, May 3, 2021

Carp streamers to celebrate Children's Day

Koinobori Festa at Takatsuki City, Osaka Pref, 2015

The 5th of May is Chidlren's Day, a national holiday set in 1948,
 to celebrate healthy growth and happiness of all the children.
Koinobori, huge Carp-shaped windstocks, are flown customarily to celebrate Children's Day.
Originally the fifth day of the fifth month was Tango no Sekku, celebration for boys,
while the third day of the third month, Hina Matsuri (Dolls' Testival) for girls.

In April prior to the Children's Day, many houses with boys used to let the Carp Streamers 
 swim and dance in the air in my childhood.
Gradually they disappeared from urban areas without enough space for them not to tangle with utility wires.

"Between the overlapping waves of roof tiles and waves of clouds,
in Tachibana-citrus-scented morning breeze,
carp streamers are swimming high."
(Translation of the first stanza of children's song "Koinobori".)

When the song was released 1913, roofs were exclusively made of Japanese tiles
 which looked like waves or fish scales.

Carp upstreams the rapids with full of energy and power.
It stands for courage and determination to attain high goals by overcoming obstacles.
In a legend, when a carp swims up waterfalls, it becomes a dragon right away.

(On entering the site, you'll see "This video is not allowed to use in other website than YouTube."
perhaps in Japanese.
Click on the word Youtube to see directly at YouTube.)

Carp Streamers Festival has gotten popular nationwide year by year
utilizing many donated carp streamers which are not used at home.
The photos are from the Carp Streamers Festa held at the riverbank of the Akuta-gawa River, 
Takatsuki City, Osaka Pref, in 2015.
It features the carp streamers made by the kindergarteners of the city
in addition to the donated traditional ones.

At home, I displayed a set of Boy's Day Warrior Dolls for the first time in 7 years
since my grandson Y was 1-year-old.
The set was presented by my father for my son's first Boy's Festival.

Y turned 8 on the 1st of May.
He has grown experiencing wide range of different things.
He loves soccer and painting above all.
This sunny boy will explore the world with his bright-eyed curiosity.

At 4 - 6

Last but not least...., 
sadly not all children are happy.
In the peaceful stillness, in the flickering light through fresh verdure,
 I stood quiet humbled in awe in front of this Jizo, a Guardian of children 
including unborn babies and the children who died young.
He tries to help the weak with full of compassion and fortitude.
Wish all the children on this planet well-being.

At Chogaku-ji Temple, Tenri City

Linked to Mosaic Monday

Monday, April 19, 2021

Takisaka-no-Michi Path

Takisaka-no-michi path is the former half of 21-kilomiter Yagyu Highway connecting Takabatake-cho, Nara City and Yagyu, a village of master swordsmen, the Yagyu family. As it name shows, "taki" for "waterfall" and "saka" for "slope", the path consists of quite steep slopes running along a river lined with large, aged trees between the two mountains, Mt. Kasuga and Mt. Takamado.

It is said to have been a training path for Shugendo since late 8th century. Shugendo is Japanese mountain asceticism incorporating Shinto and Buddhism concepts. Much later in Edo period (1603-1867), it was a commuting path for those who learned the art of Yagyu swordsmanship.

My husband and I travelled several times including this walk in 2017. Each time I felt like that the past travelers footsteps echoing.  

The path is quite an ascent right after the start from Nara Park area. It is mostly cobblestone path formed of irregularly-shaped stones, which is a relic of road repair operation undertaken by Nara Magistrate when the head of the Yagyu clan, Kendo (Japanese fencing) instructor to the Tokugawa Shogunate, was promoted to Daimyo (feudal lord) in 1636. It was the only road connecting Yagyu and Nara.

Hard climbing can be eased by the murmuring of a stream and the rustling of leaves in the dappled shadow 
of lush green.

A fallen tree stood in our way.

Wisterias grow wild, stretching and winding their vines.

After a while, stone Buddha images begin to appear, some beside the trail and others higher up on the mountainsides. They served as objects of worship for mountain Buddhism, and silent protectors for travelers, as well. The Asahi (Sunrise) Kannon, carved into a rock overhanging the trail, catches the first rays of the morning sun from the top of Mt. Takamado.

”Kubikiri Jizo" meaning "decapitated Jizo" has its name due to the cut in the neck. Legend has said that Mataemon Araki, a disciple of swordsman Jyube Yagyuu, tried out the sharpness of his new Japanese sword. (Jizo Buddhistava is a guardian of trevellers as well as children.) Around this stone Buddha image is called "Jigokudani", Hell Valley.

 In spite of the name of the place, it's really a serene, beautiful place.

Having enough rest, my husband and I returned from this place, going down carefully the wet slippery stone path.  Edge of the path was also slippery because of the piled-up fallen leaves.

Takabatake, where Takisaka-no-michi starts, is one of the oldest residential areas, where people who worked for the Kasuga Grand Shrine used to live. Along the road which we took our way to the nearest bus stop, the houses are traditional Japanese ones including grand mansions to protect the scenery of the historic area.

Bottom right is a popular buckwheat noodle restaurant 観 Kwan across the road from the bus stop

Linked to Mosaic Monday

Monday, April 5, 2021

Sakura album, 2021

Sakura (cherry blossoms) season has come the earliest since 1953
when government started recording.
Japanese verb "綻ぶ/hokorobu" means "buds turn into blossoms" as well as "people smile".
With the arrival of Sakura season, we can't help smiling but  can't  be off guard against COVID-19.
To take photos,  I walked around in my town or went to and from Nara Park by car 
choosing proper time and places.

Around the Vernal Equinox, early blooming variety "陽光 Yoko", Sunlight Sakura (above and below),
heralds Sakura season.

March 19

One week later, Somei-yoshino were already blooming at Sagi-ike Pond, Nara Park.

March 26

The blossoms on the upper part of the photo below is not Sakura but Kobushi Magnolia.
 Blossoms were sparse on the Sakura branches.
At their best, the area turns into to thick pale-pink clouds.

On a rainy weekend, I spent quiet time at the park in my neighborhood.

March 28

Shooting light-colored Sakura against the rainy sky in a wider view is quite challenging.
I was fortunate with this result, blossoms on the dark twigs under the pearly sky.

Sakura in the softly falling rain brings sense of quiet euphoria.

A couple of days later, "紅豊 Beni-yutaka" were in profusion in the Garden of "Iraka", Nara Park.

April 1

Beni-yutaka has large deeper-pink double flowers like the name "Beni-yutaka" literally meaning "rouge-rich".

 Most of the trees in the garden are fine and massive.
Beyond Beni-yutaka is "八重紅枝垂れ Yae-beni-shidare", double weeping  Sakura.


Flowers of Somei-yoshino start drifting from branches in a week from their opening.
The area is hazy pink as far as the eye can see with blossoms on the branches and  confetti-like petals 
on the ground.
Petals of Sakura is spring delicacy to deer.

Looking up, red flowers and fresh leaves of Japanese Maple were shining in the backdrop of Sakura.

Free and comfortable!
Kasugano-enchi Fields

Again at Sagi-ike Pond, the area looked like to be enveloped in floating pink clouds.
I saw the painter (#4 image) again at his regular place.

Blossoms of Somei-yoshino were mostly over in that nearby park this afternoon.

April 5

 In spite of the creeping-up infections, State of Emergency was lifted up three weeks ago
leaving the subtle but bold handling to local governments.
Because the effect of it was fading  as prolonged restrictions without legal authority
only made people tired of self-restraint and less cautious.
People look to have gotten used to the new life style not to give or catch the virus
while the new corona variant looks formidable.
Infection number is rapidly rising again.

BTW, these are the memorial photos of Shichi-Go-San (7.5.3) celebrated last year,
Y for the seventh and M for the third year.
Y's front tooth fell off on the way to the photo studio prior to the rite at a shrine.
She turned 8 on the 1st of April.
The youngest M enjoyed photo shooting so much and cried when she had to undress.

Photos of photos

Linked to Mosaic Monday