Monday, February 24, 2020

Ume blossoms at the Kitano Tennmangu


When the east wind blows
spread your scent
you plum blossoms!
Even though you lose your master
don't be oblivious to spring

This is a poem composed by Sugawara no Michizane (845-903),
a gentle scholar and politician, on leaving his home in Kyoto.
Due to the crime fabricated by his political enemy,
he was demoted from his aristocratic rank to a minor official
at the remote Dazaifu and died in exile.

Michizane's innocene was proved after his death.
Kitano Tenmangu Shrine was built in honor of Michizane
as well as for the peace of nation.

"After Michizane's death, plague and drought spread and sons of Emperor Daigo died in succession. The Imperial Palace's Great Audience Hall was struck repeatedly by lightning, and the city experienced weeks of rainstorms and floods. Attributing this to the angry spirit of the exiled Sugawara, the imperial court built a Shinto shrine called Kitano Tenman-gu in Kyoto, and dedicated it to him. They posthumously restored his title and office, and struck from the record any mention of his exile. Even this was not enough, and 70 year later Sugawara was deified as Tenjin-sama, or kami (god) of scholarship. Today many Shinto shrines in Japan are dedicated to him." (Excerpt from here)

"Kitano Tenmangu Shrine is the very first shrine in Japanese history
where an actual person was enshrined as a diety."
Many students visit the shrine wishing their success in entrance examination
as well as their improvement of academic abilities.

The very warm weather let the ume bloom two weeks earlier
 than the last year at the Kitano Tenmangu.
The blossoms must be wafting fragrance in the bracing air and the warm sunlight now.
These photos were taken in the beginning of March last year.
Recently I'v refrained from using public transportation when possible
or outing to the crowded places.

The Ume Garden was supposed to be lit up in the evening.
As a reflection freak, my eyes were glued to the reflections on the surface of candle containers.

At the kindergarten of boy Y, academic year-end performance was held 
prior to the graduation ceremony one month away.
The event features the violin performance by the eldest class members.
Almost all the members have learned playing the violin from scratch since April.
I simply wonder and respect how teachers taught violin to five/six-year-olds.
Children's version of The Grateful Crane, Japanese folktale
Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star, and others

Linked to Mosaic Monday


  1. The blossoms you show us and the history you included are both beautiful. The idea of five-year-olds learning the violin is less appealing as I know how unmelodic the instrument can sound in the hands of a novice. In fact I sometimes wonder how the violin was invented - surely the person who made the first one would have tried playing it and concluded that it made a horrible noise! However I'm very grateful to those who do persevere for years until they can extract beautiful music from its strings.

  2. Unbelievably beautiful blossoms. Every year you never fail to amaze me with the plum and cherry blossoms. Yours seem to come early. After reading your post twice I see the blossoms are in fact 2 weeks early. I guess it is not so very early because in a few weeks the blossoms will also be here in my city. I cannot capture them as well as you do though as you have a very artistic eye. I think too you have far more trees in Japan and healthier ones too. The ones we have received from Japan long ago are getting quite old and not so healthy now but still they provide a lot of beauty every year. It is my favourite time of year. It is a sad story of what happened to Michizane. It is a pity he could not have enjoyed his full life on this earth. In the end though I am glad his name was cleared. I too am keeping away from crowds but I do take public transit. I guess I need to take some antibiotic wipes and be sure to wash my hands each time I travel. Have a wonderful Spring.

  3. 北の天満宮は菅原道真を祭った神社だったのですね。見事な梅ですね。


  4. P.S. It is amazing that your grandchildren can now play the violin. It is one of my favourite instruments to listen to.

  5. Hello, the blossoms are so pretty. Cute photo of the children's performance. It is nice to hear about these talented young children. Lovely series of photos. Enjoy your day, wishing you a happy new week!

  6. Lovely flowers and I really like the candle globes as well.
    Dawn aka Spatulas On Parade

  7. The god of learning sounds so much better for humanity than the gods of war that we normally hear about. I think young people are like sponges and they just naturally learn very well given a chance. Finding a way to make music at an early age gives life such a healthy start.

  8. The blossom that you have shown here Yoko really lifts the spirits, and makes me yearn to see some here - hopefully very soon.

  9. I love the mosaic with the children! How talented they are at such an early age. Love the beautiful blossoms too! Enjoy your week!

  10. So glad to see you return to Mosaic Monday, and with such precious spring blooms. At this time, when there are so many problems facing the world, it is a blessing to see Nature continuing in its normal cycle.

  11. Stardust!! I love the idea of the “Anywhere Door” or “Doraemon”. I learn interesting things from you. They say if you can imagine it, you can achieve it. :)

  12. OMG
    Stunning view of flowering trees. An amazing phenomenon.
    I admire the beautiful performance of children. Yoko, you have great grandchildren who can play the violin. Thank you very much for wonderful photos and great views.
    Hugs and greetings from rainy Poland.

  13. The ume blossoms are so beautiful. They signify that spring is coming to your part of the world, and very soon, to my part of the world also, where everything is white and frozen!
    Your grandchildren are very fortunate to be given the opportunity to play the violin.
    A good idea to stay away from crowds in this time of uncertainty.

  14. Such lovely blossoms! A joy to see, we are far from flowers, unless they are in the form of ice.

    So sad that Michizane's innocene was proved after his death. At least it was proved.

    It is amazing for such young children to be wonderful musicians.

  15. Cherry blossoms look very beautiful in Japan. This color is so magical and phenomenal. A real sign of spring.

  16. Dear Yoko,
    When reading the story of Kanke’s life, I thought how it echoes with lives of pre-Shakespearean poets (Henry Howard and others). Quite different periods in history, yet all of them seem to be ill-born creatures that suffered a lot and composed beautiful poems.
    It is wise of you to avoid public places. Your little violin player must be also keeping home, right? I heard that schools in Japan are closed for a month, before the end of the school year.
    In our region the situation with coronavirus is more or less quiet. Chinese students have stuck at home after New year holidays. We wait and hope for the better.
    Take care, Yoko, promise?:).

  17. i found this story of Kanke touching dear Yoko !

    it seems that such tragedies came to sublime souls to empower them and to carve their name deeper on the surface of life so cannot be forgotten easily or sooner

    i loved plum blossoms ,they reminded me enchanting views filled in my eyes until now when the plum trees with blossoms looked like lace below the foothills
    i agree that teaching little children violin is quite a task
    i am glad your grand kid loves music

    i hope that your part of land is safe or less effected with coronavirus my friend
    my best wishes and prays!

  18. Beautiful - Wonderful Photos


  19. I always look forward to seeing the ume blossoms. They're so delicate and lovely. Japan has so many blooming trees. I was sorry to hear of Japan's school closures. I have a friend who is teaching in an international school there. She is now teaching on-line. The corona virus is causing illness worldwide. Bob and I are also being cautious both because of the flu and the virus. Your grandson learning the violin at such a young age is wonderful. I hope he enjoys it and continues practicing. At present, the only grandchild of mine who is studying a musical instrument is Caden (12). He plays the trombone. Yoko, Jim had a wonderful time skiing in Japan. I'm glad he could make the trip!

  20. The cherry blossoms in Japan are a wonderful spectacle, luckily I already had the pleasure of seeing them in 2017 on a visit to Tokyo and Kyoto.
    Wonderful photos
    Hugs and all the best

  21. Are you safe and sound? I hope everything is fine with you, Yoko. Wish you and your family all the best!

  22. The blossoms are so beautiful.
    A very nice mosaic of the children's performance.

    All the best Jan

  23. "Your Plum and Cherry Blossom year-on-year has been getting extremely beautiful to see. Thank you dear Yoko, for sharing with us the uniqueness of the Ume Garden and the reflection of the beautiful flowers on the round candle containers. Sharing with us readers about the violin performance of boy Y was very touching. Now that winters are over, wedding season is around the corner and for some latest trends visit


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