Asuka is a cradle of Japanese culture. Buddhism first flourished here right after its entry from India via China and Korea. The imperial capital of Japan in its heyday (538-710) is now underground, while some ruins and relics have been excavated.
Asuka is well known for the terraced rice paddies. The scenery of paddies is beautiful especially in summer when it is lush green filled with water and in autumn when it is yellow ready for reaping.
Red cluster amaryllis, or spider lilies, make a spectacular borders between the paddies and the footpaths. They started blooming two weeks later than usual due to intense summer heat of this year.
They are called "higanbana" in Japanese, for they are the flowers (hana) which usually bloom around the autumn equinox day (higan). It is a custom for the Japanese to pay a visit to ancestors' grave during spring and autumn equinoctial week. In autumn, they bloom at the gate or in the precinct of temples as if welcoming visitors.
Why are they often at the graveyard or on the narrow paths between the paddies in Japan? Because the bulbs contain a toxic agent against the pest and the stem contains edible proteins useful in case of poor harvest. They are also called "manjushage" which is named after a red flower in the Buddha's Pure Land. In spite of the naming from the Buddhism sutra, I feel more passionate beauty than soothing beauty in this flower when the flowers are red. There are also white ones.
You can't see flowers and leaves at the same time. After flowering ends, green leaves appear and last till next spring.
Tachibana-dera is one of seven temples established by Prince Shotoku and is regarded as his birth place. At its foundation in the 8th century, it had 66 halls in its precinct. Now all that remains is the foundation stones of the pagoda and a couple of buildings.
Pink and white fuyo, or cotton roses, were still blooming.
( DigiBook about Tachibana-dera)
There are many mysterious stone objects in Asuka. This is one of such stone objects made in Asuka period. The stone is carved with two human faces expressing good and evil existing inside human nature.
evil (left side)
good (right side)
Scarecrow contest was held there. They are more like lifesize dolls than scarecrows. I wonder how this couple could scare crows? They looked more tender and affectionate under the rosy hue of evening sky. It will be fine tomorrow.