temple

Analog Slowdown in Kyoto

Monday, September 15th, 2014

Dusk on the Bamboo Path Above Fushimi Inari Taisha, Kyoto

 

It has been more than 10 years since I lasted visited Kyoto.  I was there with my wife and my parents as we explored the city.  There have been shifts in the way I see the world; especially in the way I photograph the world.

Photography is my path to understand our world.  It is not only a way to remember, but more importantly it is the way in which I connect to our world.

I was looking froward to wandering the streets, shrines, and temples with my oldest friend, Jerry.  I was nervously anticipating how I would react and photograph Kyoto.  My approach to photography has grown since that visit with family 10 years ago.

What really surprised me is actually how few pictures I took.  Even though this collection were all taken on a film Contax T3 camera, even the way in which I shot my Ricoh was sparingly.  Images are precious.  I shot my digital in much the same way I used to shoot film and now I shoot film as if it was treasure.

After photographing for more that 30 years I know what I want.  It was fascinating to see without having to snap the shutter.  I enjoyed being in the lovely space of Kyoto.

Eventually there is a limit to how much one can take in of the city.  It is a must to be on foot as much as possible.  There are the “must see” places like Kinkakuji (Golden Pavillion Temple), Ginkakuji (Silver Pavilion Temple) each renewed for the opposing Japanese aesthetics.

The most moving Kyoto treasures were the smaller less visited places like Honen En (Temple) or the completely amazing Fushimi Inari Taisha (Shrine) were we wandered around at dusk to the early evening.  Entering into a special space that was as creepy as it was refreshing.

I still know I have only scratched the surface of this city but, on each visit I come tiny step closer to understanding it.

As always there is more to come.

 

 

Double Drinking Felines, Kyoto

 

 

Walking the Dragon at Nanzenji, Kyoto

 

 

Outside Gingakuji (Silver Paviion) Street, Kyoto

 

 

By the Rivers of Arashiyama, Kyoto

 

 

Royanji Temple Rock Zen Garden Corner, Kyoto

Contemplating Temple Lotus Leaf, Rain and Bang

Tuesday, May 13th, 2014

Contemplating Temple Lotus After the Rain, Ichikawa, Japan

 

Last night the winds howled around the apartment buildings and homes in my neighborhood.  The rain splattered against my window.  The night was one of constant interruptions.  No real quality sleep, just lots of sleep deprived dreams of oddities.

Then without warning the floor moved.  It wasn’t a shaker.  It didn’t build to a crescendo and released its power.  It was as if the world’s table had been slammed into and then it was over.  It was enough of a jolt to induce a surprise.  As quickly as it came it was gone.

On my walk to the station I often pass through a temple on top of a hill.  The vividness of the green Japanese maple caught my eye, and I walked over the circular driveway to get a different vantage point.

I looked down into the claw pots that were filled with lotus leafs.  They too were incredibly green.  There were jewels floating on the gaps over the leaf’s veins.  I starred.  Did hail fall from the sky in the storm?  I was curious so I ever so gently poked the bobble with the tip of my umbrella, and it moved.  Not ice, but crystal clear water.

The walk through the temple always calms my nerves.  I take the time to look around to see what is blooming, greening, and fading away.

Rain, will bring flowers.  The earthquakes bring fear.  They all can be released though the passion of attempting to live life though artistic expression.

 

Autumn Begins with the Return on the Red Spider Lilies

Friday, September 27th, 2013

Temple Red Spider Lily 01, Lycoris radiata_

 

We are in the beginning of beautiful seasonal change to autumn.  The air has dried out except for the occasional typhoon that rolls in from the pacific.

I can still get away with wearing a short sleeved shirt during the day, but last night I had to pull on a light jacket.  I love it.  Autumn and spring are my two favorite times of year.  The light becomes incredible as the days grow shorter and shorter after the equinox.

I had never noticed the Red Lily Spider flower until after the March 11th disasters, when I my soul searched out nature where ever I could find it.  My eye were beginning to sync with the seasons when I first spotted these popping out of the ground in a little temple garden in Ichikawa, Chiba, Japan.

I called them spiders, because honestly that is what they looked like only they were a stunningly hue of red.  The are called Higanbana or Manjushage in Japanese meaning “never to meet again, lost memory, abandonment”  which is quite fitting because the bulbs are highly poisonous.

Autumn is here because the moon and the higanabana have told me so.

May you all have a peaceful day of rest, and enjoy the changing seasons.

 

Temple Red Spider Lily 02, Lycoris radiata 彼岸花 曼珠沙華

Red Temple Fungus of Ichikawa

Tuesday, July 2nd, 2013

Red Temple Fungus Returns

 

I had spotted this fungus a little more than a year ago growing on the lowest part of the trunk and roots on a tree in a temples courtyard.  It’s brightly colored orange ears creating a patchwork, families, against the dark tree bark.

I was captivated by the hues.  I had to get in for a closer look.  I wanted to know what shapes it had taken.  What makes it grow?  Why does it only grow on one of the trees in the temple’s yard?

I don’t know.  These little fungus blossoms help me to focus, to be on my watch. For no one knows when the return will come.

 

The Temple Gate and the Squall

Tuesday, June 25th, 2013

The Gate, The Temple and the Squall

 

The weather called for sunny clear skies.  I should have known better.  I shouldn’t have paid attention to the morning report and brought an umbrella.  In the end, I didn’t.  I got caught in a torrential squall.  The rain was coming down so hard that I had to seek some shelter to keep from getting utterly soaked.

I had made it only about 5 minutes from where I started where I sought refuge under a temple’s gate.  I wasn’t alone.  Three Japanese carpenters who had been doing some repairs on the gate were also trying to keep dry under the protection of the jointed and slotted wooden structure.  I couldn’t help feeling a bit like the opening scene in Kuruosawa’s Rashomon.  As strangers seeking protection from a thunderstorm huddled around a small fire.  It does seem a bit cliche, but it was on my mind.

We were joined briefly by a pair of university students who paused for a few minutes before continuing down the stone steps.  I heard them gasp as the peered over the edge of the steps.  I could hear the rushing of the water as it flowed around the gate then down the steps.

After spending about 30 minutes the rain appeared to let up a bit, so I opened up my 100 yen umbrella and walked over the steps.  The edges of the steps had turned into a small raging waterfall.  The roughly hewn stones blurred under the flowing water.  I still was soaked by the time I reached the station.

For the 20 minute train ride home all I could think about was taking a hot shower and changing my squeaking Sauconys.  I was amazed when I stepped out at my home station less than 10 kilometers away from the torrential rain to find it bone dry.  All in all just another day during this year’s unpredictable rainy season.

 

 

Stone Steps into Waterfall

Cherry Blossoms Just about Gone, but not Forgotten

Tuesday, April 2nd, 2013

Prayer Cherry Blossom, Ichikawa 2013

 

About two weeks ago back in Miami I started to get a bit nervous as my friends started posting about the wonderful cherry blossoms they were experiencing in Japan.  I had to take a deep breath thinking that this could be the fist time since moving to Japan when I would miss the cherry blossoms.

On average, from what I have gathered, the blossoms arrived about 2-3 weeks earlier than usual.  Would I miss the official arrival of spring as heralded by the tiny flowers?  Fortunately for my mind’s grace and the powers greater than my own the little wonders continued to hang on after I had arrived back in Tokyo.

I desperately wanted to go out with the crowds on Sunday to catch the last of the weekend hanami (flower watching) parties but I was kept shut in by rain, cold, and jet lagged induced narcolepsy.  The weather had cleared up substantially by Monday to the point where I was able to ride my cycle and explore the Ichikawa streets.

The crowds were already gone except for a small group of women and children here and there enjoying the last of the flowers.  Retirees were still out with their tripods and ultra lenses waiting for that decisive moment, and then there was me.  Stepping through the streets and temples with nothing but my little Ricoh GR.

I am thankful to the creator for allowing me to witness the spring with my eyes and heart.  The coming of spring is special amongst all people.  It is the beginning of the year that is commemorated with the keeping of passover in the faith of my ancestors.  Here in Japan it is also the mark of the new year.  The youth will start their new grades by the second week of april just as the last of the blossoms are drifting off the trees.

The blossoms signal new times.  There are new hopes that blossom quickly that if one chooses to pursue will transform into  fruit.

The cherry blossoms are only here for a short time.  Enjoy them before they are washed out into Tokyo Bay.
Chasing Cherry Blossom Petals, Ichikawa 2013

 

 

Cherry Blossom Lanterns Flower Park, Kasai, 2013

 

 

Skyward Cherry Blossom, Ichikawa 2013

 

 

Cherry Blossom with Pond, Ichikawa 2013

Momiji Moment of Silence

Tuesday, December 4th, 2012

Momiji Moment of Silence

The heavy December rains were falling as I made my way in to work on a soggy Tuesday morning.  I was bundled up for the weather as it is my only defense against the cold.  I looked as if the sun would never burst through the clouds, but I was wrong.

Soon after lunch the sun did finally struggle to make a brilliant appearance.  Off to the west the sun’s rays blasted though the clouds while the east was still gray with rain.  The two opposites quietly inhabited the same space.  This is when I found myself wandering through a peaceful temple’s garden gazing at the wondrous momiji (japanese maple).  The colors were reaching their fulfillment as they ripened to hues of burgundy.

The momiji’s colors contrates with the yellow ginko leaves that carpeted the ground.  I was able to steal a moment of stillness.  A moment of just myself enveloped in their hues.  The young children and their mothers no longer entered into my consciousness.  I was at one with the hues.  The hues were as silent as I hope my my soul could be.

 

Those Natural Moments, Make Our Days

Tuesday, October 9th, 2012

Living Sentinels and the Watchtower

Today I was talking to a good friend of mine who has been going though some tribulations.  There are times in our lives no matter what we seem to do that the events in our have a way of dragging us down.  My friend commented that what actually lifted him up and over the much of everyday life was some poetry.  They were in fact a collection of haiku.  It was art that lifted up his soul and refreshed his spirit.

I too find that art has the power to lift me out of depression.  Art has the power to wipe the stains of life clean as I search out inspiration from the world around me.  I am surrounded by concrete; therefore, sometimes the only nature I am exposed to are confined to terra-cotta pots.  The largest recent inspiration comes from the skies above.

Today it came in a garden at a Buddhist temple.  I find it so relaxing that after a day of work to wander through this temple on my way back to the station.  Today a pair of large trees, with gnarly roots captures my soul.  I, of course, had passed them hundreds of times, but today was different.  I stood and watched them.

Some goldenrod also caught my eye as it was jetting out from the edge of a canal.  The earthy yellow pollen may be aggravating my allergies, but the colors are so soothing to gaze upon.

It is these little encounters with nature in an urban world that make my day.  I hope that others out there can reap the benefits of being in tune with the natural world around them.

 
Goldenrod Canal Riverside Embankment

Stop and Smell the Fungus

Tuesday, April 17th, 2012

Verge of Orange, Temple Fungi 01

I almost missed these orange hued wonders as I made my way back to the station.  On Tuesdays, I like to cut through a buddhist temple in Ichikawa as part of relaxing end to my day.  It helps to put the world back into perspective as I come out of the fluorescents and into the sunshine.

The temple building itself is pretty new but its grounds must be a few hundred years old.  They include a hand hewn stairway that passes through an old wooden gate making the entering of sacred ground.

After being in a building for most of the day I like to get out into the small garden of this temple.  Last week the park was crammed full of cherry blossom watchers, whereas today the grounds were still.  I walked past a large tree when a few blips of orange caught my eye.  They were tiny in size but bold in the color they spoke, orange.

I had to turn around and get down on my knees in order to get the fungi into my view finder.  They were well worth the time.  The short pause after a long day is necessary.  The selfless act of noticing something so tiny that most walked straight on by with out even giving these little ones any thought or admiration.

They are on the verge of being.  They are there if we notice or don’t.  It is really up to us to take the time to breathe in the world around us.  To take in these lovely orange wonders for our stimulation.

Please take some time to stop and smell the fungus.

Verge of Orange, Temple Fungi 02

Walk, Pause, Mediation, Repeat as often as Needed

Friday, February 3rd, 2012

Moment Meditation

There are so many moments that make up our days.  These days quickly become years, and suddenly we look at the life we have lived.  For me, life is not like a movie, it is a series of moments, or frames of moments that create my life.

They are blocks of time.  These blocks are completely adjustable.  They can stretch into years, or be as fleeting as butterflies’ flapping wings.  We must make the choice to savor the moment.  To pause, breathe, take it all in, and become connected to the world that we all inhabit.

I took advantage of some extra time today to take a walk to a little Nepali curry spot for lunch.  I noticed as I was walking to the station that there is a small road on the opposite side of the tracks from where I usually trod.  I knew that I would take that road on the way back.

I had the curry, a nice surprise as to my usual bento lunch on Fridays, and headed back on the street that I had never walked.  The sun was shining, the air was wintery crisp.  I walked past a temple, and then came to a tiny playground.  There was a fence separating the playground from the temple, yet there was this gigantic multiple pronged tree on the playground side.

The shadow cast by the tree effortless connected with my spirit.  I wasn’t trying to make a photograph happen, it just happened.  I felt the hues, the charcoaled hues of the shadow, snaking in front of me and leading my eye back to the trunk of the tree.

A brief moment.  A moment of mediation where I completely melted into my subject.  The shadow, the tree chose me, to photograph them.  A beautiful moment of stillness, and clarity.

A perfect way to welcome the sabbath.

Shabbat Shalom, may you all have a beautiful day of rest.

The Japanese Maple are Exploding with Color

Tuesday, December 6th, 2011

The autumn colors have been super late arriving this year in and around where I live.  I has very happy to have found that the Japanese Maple trees around are finally displaying their explosive colors.  These five-pointed leaves are alive rich hues that bound from the deep wine burgundies to multicolored mix and matched colors of yellows and reds.  The hues awaken my senses and I am always amazed at how vibrant these colors can be.

I found these all at a little temple complex on top of a small hill in Ichikawa, Chiba, Japan.  There were all amazing hues that teased my Ricoh GR IV out of my pocket and into my hand.  I searched out those hues that pulled me like a magnet towards them.   I wasn’t the only one wandering around this small complex looking at the autumn leaves.  There were several groups of mainly older Japanese looking at the trees.

Just another reason to be thankful.  I am thankful to the Creator for splashing my cold gray day with the explosions of color from the Mimoji trees.

Burgundy Japanese Maple (Momiji 紅葉)

Starbust Japanese Maple Leaf  (Momiji 紅葉 )

Autumn Red Japanese Maple Leaf (Momiji 紅葉)

Truth in a Shade of Blue

Tuesday, October 25th, 2011

As I was walking through a buddhist temple on my way back to the train, my eyes drifted to the roof of the temple.  My eyes kept on wandering over the roof until I encountered a sky so blue that I thought that I might be dreaming.  The sky was an amazing shade of blue.  Like those caribbean seas I swam in down in Jamaica.  The sky was painted this hue.  And across that sea of blue were rows of white clouds.  They had been pulled by the wind and stretched into long rows like that of planted garden.  It was an amazing to just be still and look up into the sky.

It was a surreal moment.  Was I really there?  Was it just a fragment of dream that surfaced in my waking hours?  Does it matter if it was?

I do not have the answers.  All I know is that there was truth in that shade of blue.  A truth that touched my soul.

Chiba, Ichikawa, Japan October Sky

October Firecrackers

The Season’s Wheel is Spinning

Tuesday, October 11th, 2011

This just in!  After much anxiety in my own mind I was pleasantly surprised to come across some of my first true autumn leaves today.  There is a lovely old buddhist temple in Konodai Chiba that is home to a very old weeping cherry blossom tree.  In the spring time it is a favorite spot for photographers and families come and take in the splendor of the waterfall of cherry blossoms.  Now we fast forward from spring to autumn and the same beautiful tree is starting to express itself with a display of earthen oranges and reds.

I was so elated to see the cherry blossom tree teasing me with bringing forth such beautiful colors.  The location of this magnificent tree must have been protected from the punishing typhoon winds of two weeks ago.  In reality, only one part of the tree has started to change its colors.  I look forward next week to see the colors engulf the tree in fiery reds.

I thought back to the unnerving anxiety when I last enjoyed the tree in April.  It was only a few weeks after the March 11th earthquake and tsunami disaster.  Most Tokyo dwellers were quietly observing the cherry blossom. So many Japanese had lost their lives just a few weeks before.  Most people felt it was too soon to celebrate.  However, my feeling was somewhere in the middle.  My heart felt that we needed to mourn those lost, and at the same time we needed to come together as a community and use the beauty of the changing seasons to focus our energies.  We needed to lend a helping hand to each other.  We needed to sit under a tree with our friends and family and engage in some heartfelt communication.

Where are we as a community now?  Has Japan come together to lend those helping hands to each other?  Have those conversations that started in spring continued into autumn?  I do not have the answers to these questions.  I can only offer up my hope and appreciation of the Japanese people to come together and change their country for the better.  I am just a humble outsider who loves his adoptive home.

Let the changing of seasons remind us of those that lost their lives.  Those brave souls that risked their lives to help others.  If we haven’t renewed our own personal commitment to leading a fruitful life it past time to begin.

Take stock in our surroundings.  Notice that leaf that yesterday was green yet today it has begun to shift into red.  Say hello to your neighbors.  Smile at the children on the train.  If we don’t the world will just spin on by.

Ruffled Cherry Blossom Autumn Leaf

Holy Cherry Blossom Autumn Leaf

Pre Autumn Burst of Red

Tuesday, September 27th, 2011

The temperature may have dropped in Tokyo, but the autumn leaves have yet to arrive.  I am not complaining, I am immensely thankful for the cool weather that I have breezing in through my windows.  I am, however, anticipating the changing leaves.  Those colors that dance on my lens as the long rays of autumn light struggle to reach earth.

Today I kept my eye peeled for any signs of the changing leaves to come.  Have the tips of any leaves started to morph into those autumn hues?  Not yet.  They will come soon enough.  In the meantime I found a bush of these flowers tucked behind a huge hydrangea bush at a small buddhist temple.  They are just a taste of the colors that are to come.  I give thanks for all the bursting colors of summer that are still hanging on into autumn.

Autumn Red Flower Burst

Sweet Home, Narita

Thursday, August 26th, 2010

I was fortunate to take a break from Tokyo and head out into the countryside of Chiba to visit Naritasan Temple.  I went walking and exploring with Tomo.  The weather has hot.  The shade was cool.  Walking up and around the various buildings that make up the Naritasan complex, I couldn’t help but think of all the others that had done the same before me.  How many other visitors had been there, and left their footprints on the gravel, or a little wish for happiness.

I forget sometimes that there is another side to this place I live called Tokyo.  There are places still to go.  Other adventures to see.

Thanks Tomo for helping get me out of the big Shitty….I mean City….

Resting Brooms

On Green Pond, with Carp and Turtles

One Yen Heart

Locked Door, Naritasan Temple

Name Burst

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