Monday, January 24, 2011

Looking for colours at Sekko-ji in the middle of winter

“Robai (蝋梅),"  Japanese allspice, or fragrant wintersweet,  is one of few flowers which bloom outside in the time of freezing cold.   Robai means "affection (慈愛)” in the language of flowers.   I do love their lovely shapes and their soft, tender yellow petals in bloom braving the cold.

Sekko-ji Temple has been known as "Temple of flower".  The precinct is constantly abundant with flowers, like peonies both for late spring and winter, ume blossoms, or cherry blossoms, and other different various flowers and colored leaves please people from season to season, except for a month around now.  With lots of bare trees, or without snow-blanket which makes the surrounding look fantastic,  the whole scenes might look bleak.  It might be difficult to find beauty in the lack of apparent beauty, but we'll never be disappointed when we see with our inner eyes.  Let's  look for some colors in the wintry landscape.

The last kan-botan and shelter made of straw

Now "kan-botan" (literally meaning "peonies in the cold"), which is winter-flowering one of  remontant peonies and is not so gorgeous-looking as spring-flowering one, are gone.   Only the shelters made of straw to protect peonies from frost and snow remain in the landscape. 

You could learn the difference between the two kinds of winter-flowering peonies, kan-botan and fuyu-botan, here (pictures and Japanese explanation) if you are interested.

Some ume (plum, or Japanese apricot) buds are on the verge of blossoming, while other ume buds are constantly  swelling.  Soon the precinct will be brightened up with pink colors and be filled with sweet fragrance.

My eyes were caught by red flowers beyond the tunnel.  By the way, do you notice that ceiling and left wall are covered with bamboo?

The red flowers are sasanqua camellia.

Another sasanqua camellia

This is about 300-year-old crape myrtle, or an Indian lilac.  The thick gnarled  trunk with stretching branches reminds me of well-muscled giant sustaining the whole life together with roots.   Not only this tree but also other winter bare trees are shining in the cold, exposing trunks and branches proudly.


This is Sekko-ji Temple seen from outside.  Right tree by the gate is that old crape myrtle: left one is old cheery tree.  Imagining how they would bloom in summer and in spring respectively fills my heart with pleasure. 

Spring is not far away!


  1. Hello Stardust.
    So many beautiful photos! Stardust.
    It is first time for me to know that Sekko-ji is known for “Temple of flower”.
    While it has been cold frost days, the yellow(Robai) and red (sasanqua camellia)flowers are modestly blooming and tell us that spring is coming very soon! I am looking forward to seeing ume(plum) blooming in my garden, and many birds enjoying nectar of the flowers.
    The early morning sunlight gets into my garden with birds chirping.
    Yes, spring is not far away.

  2. Oh, how I loved this walk with you! To see even a few plants blooming in winter is magical! The myrtle tree's branches remind me of the Tree of Life - all those branches and twigs emanating from the trunk. I love this sentence: "we'll never be disappointed when we see with our inner eyes" is something I truly believe. Your spring will come much sooner than mine, so I look forward to your posts to see your blooms and blossoms! Have a happy week.

  3. The Japanese allspice blossoms are lovely, so tiny and perfectly round before they open. You have some very unique photos Stardust. I've never seen woven shelters like that before, I could fashion some out of my ornamental grasses maybe! Your spring blossoms leave me wishing for spring, which comes here in March! Lovely post!

  4. I had mixed up the name of Robai with Obai(黄梅).
    Though both of them have the letter of Ume(梅)in their names, I knew they are quite different and neither of them are Rose family.

    I like yellow color, soon Rengyo is coming out.
    Come to think of it, as vernal flowers, yellow comes first;Fukujuso, jonquil as well.
    Its distinct clear color brightens up and lighten up the surroundings as a sign of early spring.

  5. Daffodils already! Lucky you. Such gorgeous pictures of your beautiful world.

  6. You are fortunate to have some flowers blooming in winter. I look forward to learning much more about Japan through your lens.

  7. I noticed your new posting now.
    How lovely the winter flowers and the circumstance of Sekko-ji temple are.

    I walked around near a plum garden not so far way from my house, though the buds were not yet ready to bloom there. So many kinds of plums and each seems to have its season of flowers.

    I like suisen(Japanese daffodils) in your photo at the bottom.
    I can smell the flagrance.

  8. I love your pictures of winter flowers. I feel as if I smelled their nice fragrance.

    I'm waiting for the blossomes of plum trees in Nara Park.

    Also I'm very interested in that this temple was founded by a legendary priest of mountain worship.

    I'd like to visit here!!

  9. I like scent of Robai, too. Maybe last year, did you adorn the entrance of your house with Robai,
    I wonder?
    The shelters of straw match well around scenery near Mt. Nijozan. They look lovely. In my garden's case, I wrap plants with plastic bags.It's dreary.

  10. The protection of the flower seems to express the Japanese affection.
    Delicate consideration. . .

    Thank you.

  11. Thank you, all of you, for the nice comment. I wanted to respond each of you, but I was unable to do so time-wise.

    I really recommend to visit Sekko-ji in spring when cherry blossoms, "botan", "shakuyaku" bloom one after another.

    Let’s look forward to spring while enjoying winter of each district. Stay warm and healthy!

  12. The robai would make a lovely pattern for a kimono. The trees in the second photo at Sekko-ji Temple to me are not so barren but rather gently sculpted. I love the straw shelters and wish I had one! The pink kan-botan sets it off nicely.



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