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.
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