shining maturity

My husband and I had a plan in our minds to go to Kyoto searching for some coloured maple leaves.

We wanted to go to mountainous area by train, but as the forecast said it would be going to rain, so we changed the destination and tried to stroll around more convenient area like a trip to nowhere.

We walked around the border between Nara and Kyoto where the altitude was a little higher than that of our residential area, expecting some colourful maple leaves by lower temperature.

As the forecast said the weather would be unstable, sometimes overcasting, sometimes sprinkling and when it had stopped abruptly the sun was out again.

Luckily enough we could see some shinning leaves for a while intermittently,
and when it started to rain again we took a rest in a small café with good coffee.

In Japan the saying 「女ごころと秋の空」,"A woman is a weathercock", is mentioned occasionally, but I wonder this unfair saying would be effectively said in English, too?

My husband actually said that I owed my opportunities for taking photos of the shining leaves to his good luck, while I was thinking about some abstraction of the world of leaves just before falling.

かえるでと呼ばるる青きときを過ぎ をりからの陽にもみぢ耀く

Maple leaves were young and

their greenness were so fluttery ,

and now they show their maturity

being irradiated

by transient sunlight


A ginkgo leaf is hanging on the maple bough...

............................... ☆..................................

I'd like to say thank you from my heart for all who have visited my blog.

And let me restart to do post when I will have read and learned more something suitable for blogging and have found some tanka which I 'd like to introduce you.

Thank you again, and I hope upcoming 2013 will be a happy year for you all.


Nara (an old city where I live) beneath the late autumn sky


A streak of cloud

above the pagoda

of the Yakushi Temple

in the province of Yamato

on a day in late autumn

This tanka poems was composed by Nobutsuna Sasaki ( 佐佐木信綱) in1912.

I found this translation on website. According the site it's from
"Japanese Literature in the Meiji Era".
Each time I read this poem I have desire to see the cerulean blue sky above the pagoda. As a method this tanka poet use the way of focusing gradually from season, district, a temple and the top of it and a piece of cloud, although it is opposite in the translation.

Strangely enough,the more it becomes focused to the pagoda the more specious sky I feel and see.

Now the 1,300 year-old pagoda is under refit, so I could take a photo of the new pagoda beyond a pond called Oh-ike.

image of suien from website

  It is said that the "Suien" (水煙)at the top of the pagoda was called " frozen music" by Ernest Fenollosa (1853~1908), an american art historian, who visited Japan twice. 
This word is famous in Japan but I also read that  it proved baseless about his mentioning so.

 I had a chance to attend for listening to a talk by Naomi Kawase (河瀬 直美), a Japanese woman cinema directer, a few months ago. And then I came to know that International Cinema Festival was about to be held in Nara.
Ms Kawase said that a movie was shown in Jyōkōji temple as a pre festival night event.

Jyōkōji is a small temple faced to a main street in Nara. This temple is known to the place where Fenollosa gave a speech about the roles of old cities in 1888.

She also said that there were more number of temples than convenience stores in Japan, and it worth using temples for versatile view.

Unfortunately I could not see the large room where the cinema was shown in this small temple .

I've heard that a red carpet by lightning rolled out on this fifty-two steps in the evening of the festival, and the invited foreign directors and many other participants descended this stairs with Ms Kawase.

The steps lead them to by a pond called Sarusawa, one of the famous spots near Nara park.  

I walked to Nara Park looking up at the sky time to time.
There in the park I saw many deer as usual. Some of them are still young and have some white dots just like ray drops through autumn leaves on their back.

Another famous pagoda which was seen above the fifty-two steps is seen far away and beneath the cloudy sky now.


Autumn flowers and walking

Rokkō alpine botanical garden is on Mount Rokkō, one of a group mountains in Hyogo prefecture.

It was opened in 1933, since then visitors can appreciate variety of seasonal alpine flowers whenever they visit.

Rokkō is not actually a very high mountain,931m at its highest point with fairly steep slope, and the transportation, cable car or ropeway, is so convenient that even children can enjoy climbing and taking a walk on the roads.

It is known that some area on the mountain range developed as a summer retreat by foreign residents in Kobe after Meiji (1868~), and they made some artificial ponds around there.

There are some ponds in the botanical garden as well and they give some significant atmosphere to the garden. So,we can also see many aqua plants and flowers.
It was at the beginning of July when I climbed Mount Rokkō several years ago, and I enjoyed to see many hydrangeas along side of the road to the botanical garden and many summer alpine flowers in it.

This time I realised about season's transition much more than I did at the last time.
Temperature was 14 degrees centigrade which made me feel much cooler than I expected, yet I recognised some fading summer plants like some afterglow.        

Enko-so or Caltha palustris var. enkoso are almost starting to wither, but the golden yellow have not yet lost colour.

Daimonji-so or Saxifraga fortunei var.incisolobata are in full bloom, though the tiny flowers' blooming is so quiet.

The tiny flower looks like a letter of Dai (大), so it derives its name, Daimonji-so, from{Dai(大=big)monji(文字=letter)sou(草=herb)}.
Can you see many Dai(大) letters?

As for naming, Waremokou, Sanguisorba officinalis, has an interesting origin.

Ware(吾) means" I", mo(亦) is "also", and kou(紅) signifies red.

That is to say, it blooms showing "I'm in red, as well".

They are bathing in the clear autumn sun light and exhibit their understated colour.

Viewing and appreciating some flowers and feature of this garden I found joy in just walking.

Walking made me loose my sense of time, and made me feel sound physically and mentally as if I was purified by it.

細かなる山の草花屈みこみ見るとき秋のひかり濃くなる haricot

Bending lower

at the tiny petals of

an alpine flower

I feel the autumn sun light

becoming dense


song of autumn

In these two weeks the temperature became moderate so rapidly,
but again autumn seems to hesitate to visit at a gallop.

However, the weather is suitable for walking even for a people like me who is not sportive.

Walking without worry about insignificant
and small things is refreshing, even more so in clear air under the deep sky.

I walked to a park, admiring the typical autumn flower, cosmos,
and long-termed booming of abelias, faintly reddish leaves and already ripe nuts of dog wood tree.

But I leave something to be desired.
After a rainy night, we had a calmer and more placid morning.

I remembered about the field I happened to see through the train window when I went to Kyoto the other day.

It was close to the border between Nara and Kyoto, more rural than the area
where I live and I thought the field invited me.

Perhaps it reminded me of my childhood, though the area was new to me.

When I was a schoolgirl I walked to and from school seeing such fields.
Some wild flowers and some abandoned ones, spreading golden paddy fields as background, are nostalgic.

I was fulfilled my senses gradually.

When I saw cluster amaryllis I remembered that I was taught they were poisonous, and even that took me back.


At night I found this tanka in one of my favourite books, "In Thickets of Memory", by Fumi Saito.

おのれ孤りおのれの毒を食みて生き女いささか酔ふことありし 斉藤 史
Living on her own,

staying alive by feeding

on her own poison,

a woman at times displayed

some slightly toxic symptoms

translated by James Kirkup $ Makoto Tamaki

Cluster amaryllis has another name, Spider lily.
Remembering the crimson I saw in daytime, I thought of another aspect of life of the bright flower.


White bush clover and White lily

There was an enthusiastic teacher who taught how to compose tanka(Japanese 31 syllables verse) and its spirit, and there were diligent pupils who learnt with him. Among the pupils the two ladies were quite talented and understood well what the teacher wanted to teach them.

The pupils' names were Akiko(鳳 晶子1878~1942) and Tomiko(山川登美子1879~1909), each of the two was called by her nickname "Shra-hagi"( white bush clover) and "shira-yuri"( white lily)by the teacher , because both of them

responded to expectations by composing excellent tanka poems and by their zeal minds.

The teacher is Tekkan Yosano(与謝野鉄幹1873~1935), who tried to change the stream of traditional Japanese poetry.

Tekkan and his two pupils became more and more intimate, as their ideas and style of their poems became popular.

As the consequence of their situation,Tomiko stepped aside from them involuntarily and Tekkan ended up to remarry with Akiko to start together as leaders of the poetry group.

In a lecture I've heard of that a folklorist and poet, Shinobu Origuchi(折口信夫1887~1953), preferred Tomiko's poets rather than Akiko's over appealing ones.
As Origuchi was interested in the original nuances of Japanese language, he dug deep into them, then it is supposed that his study influenced on his idea for Tomiko's tanka which tended to be introspective about herself and words.

Getting back to their nicknames, I wonder why Akiko, sensational and advanced person on her belief, got such a name of flower which is not so outstanding,
besides Tomiko's name was from fragrant and relatively showy flower.

In their era there might have been more such flowers in the fields, white lilies in spring and bush clovers in autumn.

Regarding to lilies of ecesis, nowadays it is difficult to find them except in some special gardens.
Probably "showy" is my impression on the lilies I can buy at a shop.

On the other hand we can find bush clovers everywhere, in the fields, at the street corner, and on some temple ground and so on, although white ones are much less than reddish purple ones.

Recently two books about Tomiko were published, and her tanka and her life are introduced by some contemporary tanka poets in them.

Her husband passed away suffering from tuberculous just after one year later of their getting married, and she herself suffered from the same disease after she restarted to create tanka poems trying to console herself.

Tomiko's room where she struggled with illness in Obama City

To know about Akiko and her tanka poems is not difficult, for many books about it including translations in English, and Wikipedia in English(here).

In a nutshell, she fascinated many people as a flag-bearer of main stream of Romanticism, while in private life she came to have twelve children and many offspring consequently.

Today I walked in a field of ruin of Nara that used to be the capital of Japan more than 1300 yeas ago.

The story of the two ladies and Tekkan was unfolded about 100 yeas ago.
It seems an old story, but when I think of them walking in this field it appeared to a story of only one hundred years old.
the main building "Daigokuden" was rebuilt recently


My shiny black hair

fallen into disarray,

a thousand tangles,

like a thousand tangles thoughts

about my love for you.

Akiko Yosano

(translated by Sam Hamill and Keiko Matsui Gibson)

It makes me feel easier

to get to know that

a fur seal falls into a slumber

soundly and tranquilly

on its icy bed

Tomiko Yamakawa