Spectacular layers of autumn colors; crimson, vermillion, orange, brown, yellow, gold, ....
While I enjoy the season of mist, fruitfulness, and cool and crisp air through gradual changing of nature, I at last realize surrounded by the splendor of shades of autumn at this time of every year.
I went on an excursion to "kohoku" region, northern part of Lake Biwa, to enjoy the final blaze of autumn with my husband. The highlights were the avenue of metasequoia (northwest side of the lake), Keisoku-ji Temple (northeast), and illuminated Genkyuen Garden of Hikone Castle (east).
|Long avenue of huge metasequoia|
We entered Meishin Expressway at Suita junction, changed highways to Kosei Road, travelled to the north, and ran through under the tunnel of metasequoia.
We took lunch at a restaurant by the lake.
I felt comfortable hearing the soft rustling sound of waters. Although there was no tide or smell of sea water, I recalled the beach of Suma in my hometown Kobe, which is clad with pine trees.
Driving along the zigzag winding road overlooking the lake is fun. There are numerous cherry trees along the course: they are mostly bare trees now.
Next our stop is Keisoku-ji. We got off the vehicle and walked through herb fields and Japanese green tea fields.
Keisoku-ji (鶏足寺): it's official name is Hanpuku-ji (飯福寺）.
The old walkway is lined up with aged Japanese maple trees and there are over 200 maple trees in the precinct. The temple was founded about 1100 years ago. It had many warrior monks during the Middle Ages, and had been powerful till the end of the Tokugawa shogunate (1868). It was burned down to ruins in 1933.
Does this look like a mere shadow of its glorious, prosperous past? The remaining entrance path made me feel like it was a gateway to a fairyland. However, the end of the steps were just ruins except for a small humble hut and trees, and then I felt the gateway itself might be a fairyland. Elves' laughter might have been mingled with the cracking sound of fallen leaves under our feet and radiant angelic beings might have made the whole scenery sheer brilliant red all the more.
The path is losing shape by many people's tramping the way.
The Buddhist statues of the temple are enshrined in the Hall which was built by voluntary contributions of everyone concerned and these whole areas are taken care of by the local villagers. This fact makes the scenery much more worth appreciating. I looked back before leaving and saw the perfect collaboration of red and yellow leaves, bare trees, sasanqua, evergreens, moss-covered walls and stone-paved path. This area would be sunk into silent solitude when the season is over.
After darkness had fallen, we entered Genkyu-en, a garden of Hikone Castle. Hikone Castle is one of the four Japanese castles designated as a national treasure. The image you see is not an illusion but Illuminated maple trees and its reflection on the stillness of the castle's moat water.
Mirror reflection in the pond of the Garden. Too beautiful, too enchanting to be true!
I walked looking at the reflected maple trees and I had to watch out my steps. If you lose sight of the border between reality and unreality, you might fall into the water. I'd like to return when the moat water shows a mirror reflection of the cherry blossoms in the early morning of spring.
Crimson leaves ablaze in the sun looks like "the final burst of fire of life" to me. There is a cycle from beginning to end spirally going forth, in a day, in a week, in a month, in a year, and in our life. Japanese maple trees are the last to drop their red leaves, and then autumn gives way to winter. Soon fallen leaves will be whirling in the cold wind.
This is a modest souvenir of the tour, a wreath made of vines decorated with wild fruits and red peppers.