Have you ever seen this plant? The pristine white, elegant flowers look like race-cap hydrangea but leaves and plant form are different. It is 瓊花 Keika, or Qiong-hua.
The other day, I went to see Keika flowers to Toshodai-ji in Nara City. At the blooming time every year, the garden with Keika is open to the public. It was from April 24 to May 6 this year.
At Toshodai-ji, Keika is a symbol of transformation from late spring to early summer.
The white flowers are refreshing to see against the blue sky.
Beside the Keika, early-blooming hydrangeas were in bloom.
Leaving the garden where Keika flowers bloom ......
I went to Ganjin's Grave located at the end of a woody path.
I thought of Ganjin who kept unbreakable determination and commitment throughout his life. He was invited by Emperor Shomu to teach the Chinese Buddhist precepts in Japan and was blind when he finally reached Japan in 754 after harsh, unsuccessful voyages to cross the ocean. He was then 65-year-old and established Toshodai-ji in 759.
|Image via Wikipedia|
The surrounding nature gives the area an air of serenity.
Inside the bamboo hedge the earthen wall has collapsed with time.
New life grows on it.
But unchangeable charms of Toshodai-ji, which I like most about, is dark brown timbered buildings mostly from the 8th century.
The concise beauty of 金堂 Kondo, Main Hall (national treasure), is a representative of the Tempyo arts (729-749). The magnificent row of eight pillars is reminiscent of the Parthenon of Greece.
Inside Kon-do is a solemn world of Buddha. Large nine Buddhist Statues stand with three-meter-high Virocana Buddha at their center. All are national treasures. Regardless of your religion, you would be struck and humbled in awe. Because of No Photography rule to the objects of worship, have a look here.
|Kon-do, Main Hall|
|鼓楼, literally Drum Tower (1240), national treasure|
講堂, Lecture Hall (late 8th century), national treasure
Other unchangeable charms are roof tiles,
... aged earthen walls,
... and lovely, small paths which run in the precinct.
For a few days around June 6, the anniversary of Ganjin's death, 御影堂 Mie-do, where a famous wooden statue of Ganjin is stored, is open to the public to display the statue. In the room surrounded by Hiagashiyama Kaii's paintings on Japanese sliding doors, "濤声 Tosei", you can recall Ganjin in contemplation. I felt like that I heard the sound of the waves some years ago when I was sitting in the room. A replica of the statue is on permanent display at 開山堂 Kaizan-do.
|Kon-do seen from Suzaku South Gate|
When Keika flowers are over, the precinct changes into summer attire with irises, lotus flowers, and deepening early summer greenery.