Saturday, November 9, 2013

A Trip to Oirase

The day before yesterday was the first day of winter by the old calendar, still we have relatively warm days. Autumn tints are getting beautiful around my neighborhood. I am wondering how autumn colors are now at Oirase Stream(奥入瀬渓流)…

Oirase Stream was always on my place-to-go list and my dream came true last month at last.

The stream flows from Lake Towada; the large caldera lake situated in the northern part of Tōhoku region.

Lake Towada

The upper passage of the stream draining this lake is famous for scenic sights as long as 14km long with over a dozen waterfalls cascading down into the stream.



This is Choushi Ōtaki (銚子大滝、Great Sake or Japanese wine Bottle Fall)  situated upper most part of the stream. It was spectacular.  Some sake lover might have associated the fall with the mouth of sake bottle, from which sake pours forth out of the bottle; the lake.




orangish red seed of Komayumi (小真弓; euonymus alatus)  Its vivid color among unfledged autumn leaves drew my attention.



Wet fallen leaves under my rain boots on the trail were easy on my knees and eyes. Hotel lent us all necessary outfits from rainboots, umbrellas to raincoats.  Of course I prefer fair day but rain is not that bad. Leaves and trees looked glossy and lustrous because of rain. Changing colors was just beginning.


Stream turns rapid currents, dashing against rocks and swirls and then it flows in a steady continuous stream.

Rich water continuously flowing has brought and nurtured new growths on the fallen trees or even on the rocks and has formed what they are now after many years..


A lounge at the hotel with a big fireplace made by Taro Okamoto
Leaves outside should be ablaze with autumn colors by now

at night

This trip was something special for us three sisters and our spouses.
We came up with this plan to get relaxed and appreciate what we had done to help each other to take care of our aged parents. Each spouse’s cooperation was a great help. Fourteen months later than Mother’s passing away, those taking care days were put an end with an unexpected death of Father in February this year.  These past five years were the time we reunited and strengthened the bond of sisterhood and brothers-in-law hood.  How I was grateful that I had sisters and brothers-in-law as well to share the difficult times with. Now we realize it is the greatest asset our parents left us.


Monday, October 7, 2013

A Deity of Rice Fields

Ta no Kami (a deity of rice paddies) brought a good harvest this year as usual.

morning mist seen from Amakashi-no-Oka at Asuka, Nara
Here at Inabuchi, Asuka in Nara, Higanbana (red spider lilies or Lycoris radiate) and Kakashi (scarecrow) festival has become a popular annual local event. It is usually held around the Autumn Equinox Day in September.
These beautiful terraced paddy fields are well known.
Red spider lilies (Lycoris radiate) or Higanbana are blooming in flame, so florid in a cluster and yet so delicate when seen closer.



Kakashi is a variation of Ta no Kami since it is expected to observe and protect rice paddies
from animals and birds. In Kojiki, the ancient record of matters compiled in 712, Kakashi appeared as a deity of knowledge and agriculture who was not able to walk but knew everything about the world. It used to be one leg but nowadays it has come in all forms and sizes.

Kakashi contest is held every year. Some are artistic, resourceful, heartwarming, some funny and playful.


this one reminds me of my good old days

This one offering dancing to thank Ta no Kami for a good harvest was selected the best winner at the contest this year by visitors' popularity votes.


My mother-in-law passed away the other day.

May Ta no Kami, a gentle wind, the sky, hills, clouds, flowers embrace the soul with your beneficient smiles, who always gave her unconditional love to her three sons, eight grand-children, ten great-grandchildren and who loved and respected the earth to produce blessing!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

A Sea of Blue Flowers

Some might frown to hear Hotei-aoi (common water hyacinth) is spreading all over the pond or lake but here in the fallow rice fields around the historic site of Moto-yakushiji temple (本薬師寺跡), a massive thin shade of purplish blue is flowering . 

A pointed hill is Unebiyama (畝傍山)

The local people started planting its seedling 18 years ago, since then at this time of year, this place has attracted many people with their camera in their hands.

image from wikipedia

The name was taken after Hotei; Chinese Budai, known as a laughing Buddha (one of the Seven Lucky Gods here), for a rounded inflated petiole of the aquatic plant (sponge) functioning as a buoy is associated with a big stomach of Hotei.

Recently local elementary school children joined volunteers in planting about 14,000 seedlings in early July. The plants usually amount to 400,000 from August to October.   

However, its vigorous propagation causes a serious problem in some parts of the world; suffocating the lake, diminishing the fish supply, damaging the local fishery.
Disgracefully, they are called blue devil and considered to be one of 100 world’s worst invasive alien species. They are on the black list here as well, however, with a careful treatment, an appropriate place to grow, they are also giving people  pleasure.

Only one of six petals has a unique beautiful pattern. It seems to me a purple flame or a mandorla holding a light. .

In a baby buggy sat a small spaniel, well-mannered while its mom was absorbed in taking pictures.

                             A sign of harvest season. I feel autumn is on the way..

Monday, July 15, 2013

A Stroll Around the Remains of an Ancient Palace

Sweltering heat waves put an end to rainy season earlier than usual a week ago.
Somehow I brought up enough courage to go for a walk for a change.

I rambled on the north side of Nara Heijyo-kyo Palace remains. The remains and the surrounding area were designated as World Heritage Site in 1998.
The first Daigokuden (第一次大極殿), center building, was restored for the commemorative events of the 1,300th anniversary of Nara Heijyo-kyo Capital three years ago.

 Imperial domicile corridors (trace of the pillars ) are shown by boxwood(柘植) in the back courtyard.

Leaving them on your right, you find this big pond called Mizukami Pond.

Too hot was that day to stroll but it gave me clear and calm and peaceful feeling, an occasional blowing wind made ripples on the water and blurred the clouds. Several grey ducks were seen to be coasting along. This place is known as a migratory birds’ paradise. Especially from fall to winter, various wild birds are seen to come here to pass the winter.

picture taken by Shozo Yona
Last winter, however, a pitiful shot taken by a local photographer appeared in the local newspaper and drew attention. He noticed a grey duck making a noise and struggling. It got its bill and head stuck in a plastic ring. 
What surprised him more was that he saw other ducks and swans approaching it and especially a mute swan seemingly trying to help it get rid of the ring, though it didn't seem to be  successful. 
It was the first time, he said, to see a wild bird try to help different species in a difficult situation. It blew a whistle against human’s carelessness and thoughtlessness. (related article is here)

This area is a part of “history road” established by Nara prefecture around forty years ago. You can move around by bicycle too. Just near the pond, there lies the imperial tomb attributed to Iwanohime-no-mikoto(磐之媛命)

She was a consort of Emperor Nintoku(仁徳天皇) who was the 16th emperor of Japan in the late 4th to early 5th century. Burial Mound in Sakai, Osaka which is attributed to him is the biggest key-hole shaped mausoleum of 486m long. I wondered why his empress has lain so far away from his.

According to the old chronicles(Kojiki and Nihonshoki), she was described as a deeply jealous personality. She was constantly annoyed and restless by the amorous emperor. The news that he let the mistress in the palace while she was away to procure goods for the banquet, who she wouldn’t want him to love, was the last straw. In a fit of jealousy and anger, she threw away everything she got and never returned to his palace ever after. She must have been strong and a presence that he couldn’t ignore, so he showed his sincerity toward her by visiting her place for himself to ask for her return but in vain.

On the other hand, in Manyo-shu(万葉集), the oldest existing collection of Japanese poetry, she expressed her wavering love for her husband;

君が行き 日長くなりぬ 山たずね 迎へか行かむ 待ちにか待たむ
Long are days since you are gone 
Shall I go and see over mountain paths
Or keep waiting for you 

Anyway I am glad she had the freedom to get her own way. Hope the rest of her life was stress free and peaceful. 

In early summer, iris laevigata(かきつばた) and water lilies filling the moat are in full bloom. 
I was in the hope to see them but irises were already gone and water lilies were taking a nap in that broad daylight.

  These shots were taken in June

                 It's hard to recognize but they are nuphar japonica (河骨)
Take good care of yourself, friends. I hope you are having a nice summer season.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Radiance in the Newborns

Now is the time everything looks brilliant. I feel the pleasant breeze with fresh leaves and flowers swaying and bowing. Roses in my garden are about to bloom.

it unfurled now

                                                 What shall I call thee?
                                                 “I happy am.
                                                 Joy is my name”
                                                 Sweet joy befall thee!

                                                 Sweet joy I call thee.
                                                 Thou dost smile
                                                 I sing the while
                                                 Sweet joy befall thee!
                      (from Infant Joy by William Blake, thank you for introducing ,Ekaterina)

His fresh mom breastfeeds and holds him in her arms as often and as much as he wants. She uses cloth diapers to reuse them. To see cloth diapers being hung out brought back good old memories of mine.

in March

My husband and I wanted to plant a tree in celebration of his birth and came across 源平しだれ桃( weeping red and white peach tree). It has red and white and mixed colored blossoms from one single tree. 

Peach flowers for a boy? Aren't they for girls for a peach festival? Oh, don’t forget there’s a famous fairy tale Momotaro, Peach Boy, who is courageous enough to go out to wipe out ogres. 

Multi colored blossoms are frivolous? I don’t care. A combination of a red and white color gives a festive appearance and has been traditionally used in happy, congratulatory occasions such as a form of 饅頭(Japanese sweets) or a curtain whose pattern is vertical red and white stripe. We are looking forward to seeing this tree growing as he is .

A newborn infant is called Aka-chan (Dear Red) here because of their reddish skin, just like these young leaves of the maple tree.

Coo enjoys playing outside for a while; nosing around or chasing flies, ended up falling over flower beds, spoiling flowers...

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