Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Hagi and signs of autumn at Koetsu-ji, Kyoto

collage-painting "hagi and the full moon" by my aunt
 "Hagi", or Japanese bush clover, is one of the most loved autumn grasses in Japan.  As it is written 萩 , which literally means “grass on top of autumn (秋)", it blooms earlier among “seven grasses of autumn” and delicate flowers start to scatter when the first cool and crisp wind blows.

hagi in my garden

The view of overhanging branches laden with reddish-purple flowers are lovely when they are swaying in the breeze.  The flowers bent in the rain inspire deep emotion.   No wonder more than 100 poems about the grass appear in Manyoshu Anthology, the oldest poetry anthology edited in 8th century.  (Here in Japanese.)

When I travelled to Takagamine, northern part of Kyoto, I had a visit to Koetsu-ji Temple (光悦寺).

Stone-paved path leads visitors to the precinct, from the bustle of cities to the serenity.

Above your head, shades of green and the blue sky.

Under your feet, green is lovely between the stones.

The belfry was completed in 1692 and restored in 1960.

Up to this place where the stonep-paved path ends, permission is free.  Over there, there are tea rooms, the retreat, and gardens once belonged to Hon'ami Koetsu, a Japanese craftsman, potter, lacquerer, and calligrapher.  He developed his style of painting which developed into the Rinnpa schoolThe retreat was called Taikyo-an which was used as an artist colony as well as for prayers and meditation.

This hedge below is called Koetsu-ji style hedge (光悦寺垣). Taikyo-an is over the hedge.  The view of the hedge covered with blooming bush clovers or with crimson maple leaves is something.  I had thought it was the right time for the flowers but they were delayed this year....unfortunately.

These are some of few blooming bush clovers.

The flowering of bush clovers and a little yellowish green of the nearby mountains as borrowed landscape are signs of the arrival of autumn. 

The view from the Retreat is open, wide and high.

 On the moss-covered thatched roof, there are lives.

coral-like fruits

These Japanese maple leaves have just started turning red earlier than others.

In full sunlight high above, many maple leaves have turned yellow before becoming red.

What are  "seven grasses of autumn"?  The selection of seven autumnal grasses existed at latest  the time of Manyoshu Anthology as is shown by these ancient poems.

秋の野に 咲きたる花を 指折り かき数ふれば 七種の花
萩の花 をばな葛花 なでしこの花 をみなへし また藤袴 朝顔の花

 山上憶良/Yamanoue no Okura (660 - 733)

Flowers blossoming
in autumn fields -
when I count them on my fingers
they then number seven

The flowers of bush clover
eulalia, arrowroot 
pink, patrinia 
also mistflower, and morning faces flower 

(をばな, or eulalia, is Japanese pampas grass.  朝顔, or morning faces flower,  is old name for 桔梗, bellflower.)

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  1. Enjoyed your series, excellent perspectives in your shots. :)

  2. What a lovely piece of work your aunt created highlighting the “hagi”, stardust. Her design and your photographs captured well the first blush of autumn. I love the descriptive names of the seven grasses. And the quiet life at the moss-covered roof and the shadowed stone path bordered by soft green are visual treats. :)

  3. Reading your posts and looking at your images transports me to another world. There's so much beauty around you. Your aunt's creation is beautiful! I also liked the description of the seven grasses of autumn. The poem is lovely. Autumn is indeed special in your country. Those maple-like leaves look most striking!

  4. What a beautiful post. Loved the purple little flowers! And the stone pathway with green grass in between... The maple leaves are also so heart endearing...
    Very pretty post.
    Have a fabulous week ahead:)

  5. Hi Yoko, It looks as though your fall is just emerging. Mine has nearly peaked. The changing maples are delicate and lovely - different colors emerging on one branch. The thatched roof is wonderful. It has its own ecosystem. Enjoy your fall in Nara and Kyoto.

  6. Very interesting. Beautiful series of photos. I like looking through your photos. They are instructive for me. I also have one nice aesthetic experience. Warm greetings sends Peter.

  7. These photos breathe serenity, beauty and the joy of autumn!

  8. Opis i zdjęcia bardzo ciekawe, ale "hagi" i mech na dachu mnie zauroczyły. Pozdrawiam cieplutko

  9. What a great post.You can tell and show about Japanese fall very well.I remembered a lot of beautiful nature things.Thank you for sharing.

  10. You do such nice posts! Love the hagi...and your aunt is a wonderful artist! I also like the retreat...we need more of those in this country - to get away from it all and renew our inner resources!

  11. Me again! I'm sorry, I meant to ask about the typhoon...were you spared the worst of it?

  12. 光悦寺というのは初めて知りました。今年はどの花も開花は少し遅れているみたいですね。

  13. Autumn is so beautiful! I love your post so much - the beauty of the places you show here always amazes me:)

  14. Hello Yoko:
    Your grandmother's painting is so beautifully composed and executed. Such attention to detail and enchantingly coloured. What an artist she is.

    We so enjoyed going on the visit with you to the Koetsu-ji Temple and loved how it became a community of artisans. Clearly that spirit of creativity and beauty in Nature lives on today for visitors lucky enough to see it. We feel extremely grateful that we have been able to see it through your eyes, words and wonderful photographs.

  15. Beautiful Post!! Boom & Gary of the Vermilon River, Canada.

  16. What a very beautiful and informative post, i loved every bit of it, from your aunt's art work to the last maple leaf. Thank you for sharing the beauty of your world with the rest of us.

  17. My dream is to have a roof covered in moss with tiny plants growing there. Maybe one day, when we have our own garden, there'll be a shed with a mossy roof? ^^ It makes houses look more natural. And fluffy ^^

    Thank you for this beauty and for the link to Manyoshu page. I once saw Manyoshu in Russian in a bookstore, but it was unfortunately too expensive. Though I have many other collections ^.^

  18. Your blog is an opportunity for me to find moments from life in Japan through the eyes of an artist and a poet. What could be better?

  19. Yoko
    綺麗な写真です。楽しんでいました。有難う。日本の京都が大好きです。I'm sure I will visit again :).

    It looks so peaceful, and so inviting.

  20. A lovely post as usual.
    I love the painting-collage made by your aunt, it is so delicate and translates very well the elegance of the real plant!
    Autumn is a beautiful season and it looks gorgeous in Japan!

  21. How beautiful! I love the green moss growing between the paving stones on the path. And the delicate blossoms of the bush clover.... so pretty! Thank you for showing me your Japanese autumn.

  22. What a delicate and marvelous nature! A real place for peace and quiet time! And the nature is honored by poetry! thanks for sharing this beauty!

  23. Jacob - Thanks for your concern. My place, northern Nara prefecture、was not so affected, but mountainous southern Nara and Wakayama, which was already terribly damaged by the deep-seated landslides and flash flooding caused by the previous typhoon, was in fear of bursting of landslide dams. The worst was avoided. My thoughts are with the stricken people by the two typhoons.

  24. I love the delicate composition of your aunt. Beautiful frames with a delicious light, lovely flowers.

  25. Such beautiful shots. What a lovely bell in the belfry. And, I love the photo of the Japanese maple leaves beginning to turn red. Always enjoy seeing your lovely pictures and reading about them. Have a nice Thursday (what happened to Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday?). Mickie :)

  26. Kouetuji-temple is northern in kyoto, isn't it? So maples starts turning its color. I went Kyoto yesterday but around the museum, maples didn't start turning. Height is different, I think. In this time, temples in northern part of Kyoto city has quaint atmosphere in your pictures.
    Thank you for sharing.

  27. Hagi is a sort of very deliacate flowers and it seems to be difficult to capture the best condition, though yours are so beautiful.
    It is good time to see around the tiny herbs in the crispy air.
    Thank you for sharing them.

  28. Hello Yoko,
    I had the same problem with the commentside. I have tried 3 times but it was gone. Hope this one will be okay.
    Fantastic photograps and lovely blog.
    I did put a translater at my blog but when I read it sometimes it does'nt
    translate what its al about. Maybe I try to put it in english to. (good laugh maybe because my english is also bad).
    Have a great day,
    warm wishes Marijke

  29. The hagi flowers in the Koetsu-ji temple are really beautiful! I love the second photo! The Koetsu's makie-suzuri-bako is sometimes on display at the Tokyo National Museum. Sadly, there remain few of his works.
    I saw your rose photos in the previous post. They are stunningly beautiful.

  30. Such a lovely combination of art and life. It is so interesting to see autumn from another part of the world. Thanks for sharing the beautiful poetry.

  31. I enjoy your photos very much and I like your country, thanks for letting me know more about it. Hugs!

  32. As usual, there is a beautiful collectiion of photos. You've found some wonderful details, the kind of thing that would be missed by many people who do not look closely. what kind of work is it that your aunt did? Is it embroidery or painting, or applique? She is very talented. I love this dainty piece of art.

    Oh, people tell me that they have tried to post on my blog and can't. I will have to look into it, but perhaps the reason is that I didn't moderate comments for a day, so they didn't appear. It would seem to the person who posted, that their comment vanished without trace. I have now posted all the ones which arrived, though.

  33. Hi Yoko

    Your beautiful photographs make me long to be back in Japan enjoying the landscapes, the architecture and the flora as well as that indefinable ambiance that constitutes part of the Japanese culture.

    The hagi are so appealing because of their simplicity and lack of pomp or grandeur.

    Basho was fond of morning glory wasn't he?

  34. Absolutely wonderful scenery! The thought of a tea room is most inviting. Love how Japan looks in autumn, when the nature you see becomes silent wordless poetry for the eyes to inspire those who write.

  35. Jenny - To read your comment, I’ve figured out. I know some people moderate the comments. In that case, usually I see a message after sending a comment “Your comment is waiting for moderation. ..” but recently the words didn’t appear and my comment was just gone. So, I thought my comment disappeared.

    I still have another problem, but it is a minor one and I can manage with a special trick.

  36. Delwyn - Yes, Basho wrote “asagao” in his haiku poems. “Asagao” is “morning glory” in English, but “asagao” in Japanese old poems are thought to be “kikyo/bellflower”. That’s why it is translated as “morning faces flower” not as “morning glory”. I guess the meaning is “flower with morning-glory-like faces” . Purple morning glory looks like bellflower.

  37. Jenny – My aunt, to be exact my husband’s aunt, passed away seven years ago. She was not a professional artist. That art is called “oshie/ 押絵”, a padded cloth picture, in Japanese, but I think “painting-collage” (as DeeBee L. wrote) is apt name. "Collage painting" was her serious hobby. “Hagi and the full moon” is made by sticking pieces of cloth like felt, silk, or any cloth, and colored Japanese paper onto a square piece of fancy paper. Sometimes she wrote a poem on it. I’m glad you are interested in it.

  38. 'from the bustle of the city to serenity'

    coming here is 'coming from the noise and clamour of blogland to serenity'. Every time.

  39. I really like the bush clover. Autumn is very beautiful there!

  40. My beloved friend
    Thank you very much for your warm welcome and the kind words!
    We went to Lake Garda in Italy, the lakes of Austria and Germany.
    You'll see all the photos in the next suspension.
    How beautiful is the Hagi!!!! It reminds me of orchids.
    The photos with your first autumn leaves, are great!
    Many greetings to your entire family!
    With friendship

  41. autumn is so colorful and soothing, your photo's are gorgeous.

    i am just starting to see a little bit of color here but i am very excited for fall!!

  42. Hello, Yoko !
    How interesting. Thank you, this is such a beautiful and educational post.
    Very special lanscape and the pictures are delightful. Beautiful series!


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