Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Color and fragrance of early spring at Yatsuri

My husband and I drove to Yatsuri on a misty morning. 

Yatsuri is located on the east edge of Asuka Village. The name “Chikatsu-Asuka-Yatsuri Palace” appears in the old chronicles as being established as the seat of the new Emperor Kenzo (顕宗天皇), in 485 much earlier than Asuka period (592-710). 

While scholars can identify and associate with some historical evidence to Asuka Period, there seem to be no clear evidence about the ancient palace of Yatusri, though there's a shrine (引計皇子神社), which is thought to be the location of the palace and the local people call it "Yatsuri no miya-san/palace of Yatsuri". Many tumuluses have been excavated in Yatsuri-Higashiyama area. They are thought to be the tombs of the local powerful family of 6th and 7th century.  Yatsuri-Higashiyama Kofungun/ Ancient Tumulus Clusters

Yatsuri is a sleepy but serene farming village where old farmhouses are nestled at the "satoyama/undeveloped woodland near populated area", behind which there are Mt. Unebi and  then Mt. Nijyo.  Mt. Nijyo is disappeared in the mist in the photo below.


From mid-January to mid-February,  Robai (Yellow Winersweet) bloom fragrantly in the area which sinks into silence in winter. The small waxy blooms of sulphur yellow are simply lovely to see.

Another thing I know about Yatsuri is that the place was loved very much by a Nara-born, Nara-loved photographer, Taikichi Irie.  To represent the characteristic atmosphere of Yamato (old name of Nara) which had lasted since immemorial, he tried to capture wet, aerial feeling and shaded nuance. He preferred wet landscape.  These are the scenery of Yatsuri Irie loved in good and old days of Japan.

Summer Yatsuri by Taikichi Irie
Yatsuri at dusk by Irie Taikichi
I like atmospheric photos shot in twilight, rain, or mist but to take such pictures nicely is challenging to me.   The four images below were taken on a sunny morning in mid-January of the last year.  

Robai blossoms always please me either under the misty sky or in the full sunlight.

In the photo below, Mt Unebi and Mt Nijyo are seen more clearly than in the third image.

Weather turned to the chill after the weekend's spring-like temperatures. The whole country is gripped in the coldest wave this season, and the  highest temperature is forecasted 4 degrees C for tomorrow here in Nara where snowfall is a rare event. When we go through the harshest part of winter, spring is around the corner. According to the traditional Japanese calendar, today is the first day of spring.

 -  Posts related to Asuka including this post, here. -


  1. Lubię zdjęcia z mgłą w tle, dzięki której widok jet bardziej tajemniczy. Pierwsze wiosenne kwiaty na drzewie są cudowne. Pozdrawiam.
    I like pictures of fog in the background, through which the jet view more mysterious. The first spring flowers on the tree are wonderful. Yours.

  2. Vad härligt att se att det börjar att blomma hos er. Forsytia har vi också här men det dröjer nog minst 3 mån innan den blomma här.
    Önskar dig en fin dag

  3. Your photographs are always beautiful. It is, indeed, often very hard to take a good photograph when the weather is rainy or misty, and Taikichi Irie rises well to the challenge. Your first picture did catch my eye as being exceptionally soft and colourful in tone. The subsequent pictures seemed to almost convey the silence of a rural place that is waiting to come alive in the Spring.

  4. Love both sets of photographs of this immensely beautiful landscape and its flowery messages of spring!

  5. we have had terrible cold fronts in the US too this winter. these are so beautiful.

  6. Dear Yoko, your wonderful featured post evoked yearnings in me to see this beautiful region myself! And these mildly and softly yellow colored flowers are sweet and lovely spring harbingers. :-)

  7. Son unas fotografías muy hermosas!

  8. Dear Yoko - I always enjoy seeing your first flowers of the spring and these Robai blossoms are a joy to behold, especially the pretty yellow against the blue sky. How the wheel keeps turning so quickly bringing with it blossom time again.

  9. There is a sense of tranquillity in all these pictures but I am especially drawn to the top photograph. I feel it so well represents a slower pace where ancient villages and farming communities are barely visible as modern life passes by. This looks like a wonderful place to stop and reflect.

  10. what a beautiful walk! love the trees in blossom, greetings from sunny+cold Holland and very happy 2014!

  11. It's so interesting to view landscape in winter, absence of foliage exposes the bare bones and shows the beautiful structure of trees. I love the textured wall,it looks very old. Lovely photos of the robai blossom!
    Here many days are wet and cold,but birds are singing and there's a feeling of rebirth in the air.

    Best wishes,

  12. Beautiful pictures with a touch of spring !
    Have a nice day !

  13. 私もこの場所は知っています。とてもしっとりした柔らかい雰囲気が出てていいですね。冬の厳しさというよりはやさしい温もりを感じます。9枚目の蝋梅、まさにその蝋のような質感、琥珀色がかった透明感のある色合い、好きですねえ。二上山の写真、すばらしい!と思ったら入江泰吉さんのでしたか。でもYokoさんのもすばらしい!

  14. These blossoms brought joy into my heart.
    Let the coming spring will be happy for all of us.

  15. Wonderful pictures of Yatsuri in winter, though with a hint of springtime promises. Now I'm off to follow the link to Taikichi Irie....

  16. For you already started spring. It is the most beautiful season, at least by me.
    Flowers, how charming. Here's a winter without snow, but spring will be up for a month.

  17. おはようございます。 ソシンロウバイが綺麗ですね。八釣の古墳は石舞台古墳を連想します。これも石棺なのでしょうか。里山の風景も素晴らしいです。 お彼岸の頃、二上山の山と山の間に落ちる、夕日を見てみたいです。

  18. It is nice to see the pale greens of early spring. We are still very much in the middle of winter. I love the bright yellow flowers. We have to content ourselves with indoor flowers. Outdoors all is white.

  19. 青空の下の蝋梅、きれいですね。香ってくるようです。八釣、初めて知りました。入江さんの頃とあまり変わってないような気がします。最後の雪の田と二上山、いいですね。土の匂いのする、自然に囲まれた絶好のスポットですね。
    Have a nice day!

  20. 入り江泰吉の写真に残されている風景は今ではすっかり変わってしまってる所が沢山ありますが、Yatsuriの景色はまだ昔のままでしょうか。大切にしたい場所ですね。青空の下でロウバイが春のおとずれを華やかに告げています。明日はまた雪予報ですが、春はすぐそこ!早くコートを脱いで出かけたいです。風ひかないようにお大切に。

  21. Dear Yoko,

    It was so nice to hear from you again! And once more, I must say your photography is just excellent. You take a back seat to no one, not even the famous Taikichi Irie. While his photos are nice, yours are more nuanced with better color and composition. What a lush, wonderful place you've captured on this road trip. And the wonderful colors of spring will brighten everyone's day.

    Sadly, I must report that the husband of our friend, Tsurumi, died a few days ago. They were married about five years ago in California, and then decided to move here as Tsurumi's two daughters live in Florida. They no sooner made the move than Norman was diagnosed with prostate cancer and give six months to live. But he was stubborn and with lots of chemo and other help from the Mayo clinic, he lived much longer and we became close friends. We took Tsurumi to lunch the other day and she stops by the house often. Her English is not as good as she would like so we try to help her with that. But she'll be fine and she's settled nicely in a beautiful home in a 55+ community which is gated so there is a measure of safety as well as lots of people around to assist her as needed.

    We hope that you are well and that your family is the same. Our best wishes to you!

  22. I always get a sense of walking with you while reading your posts, Yoko. The landscape is lovely, I could spend hours gazing at this kind of beauty. And 4 degree C? I would freeze in such low temperatures! I hope spring arrives to you really soon. Take care.

  23. You have a very lovely blog, with lovely photos. Makes me want to visit with my own camera.
    Thank you for sharing it.

  24. It was a touch of spring - your post for me. My place is still covered with snow and the only sign of change of seasons is sparrows' loud twittering. As for taking pictures in rainy weather or twilight, this may be challenging for professionals. I am not and I do, and even publish them sometimes. Have you read "По следам идолов прошлых столетий" yet? It was a very rainy day.
    I hope you and your family are well. Best wishes to you, Yoko!

  25. I can't believe - early spring!!! In February!
    OK, your home region is a bit more in the south than Germany. But first spring feelings in February - I still cannot believe... ;-)

    Your "wintersweet" bush is endemic to China, in Iran people call it "ice flower" - a rather appropriate name for a plant blooming in early February. Due to the fact that we have an extremly mild winter in Germany this year I can't await the first harbingers of our German spring time as well. Thanks a lot for your beautiful photographs full of atmosphere, Yoko!


  26. The countryside is stunning - and the yellow flowers blooming make it seem a lot like spring!

  27. I missed this post, Yoko - I've been off the computer. Now your yellow flowers are offering me brightness in my winter day! I believe you'll have spring before I do - I can't wait to see it!


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