Monday, October 9, 2017

Scarecrow Contest at the Rice Terraces

 Scarecrow contest is held every year at Inabuchi district of Asuka village 
when rice paddies are turning gold.
Inabuchi is noted for the grand rice terraces, which are farmed by hand, 
spreading on the rolling hills.


At this time of year, rice terraces are edged by the brilliant red flowers.
They are Lycoris radiate, "higanbana" in Japanese, for they are the flowers (hana) 
which usually bloom around the autumn equinox day (higan).  

Walking along the path between the paddies,
you'll meet many various scarecrows of any nationality, young and old.
Hello, farmers and cat musician!

I hadn't thought I'd encounter a Mexican or Sheriff Woody at such a place.

This guy's eyebrows, eyes, nose, and mouth are drawn with some of Japanese alphabets "へのへのもへ".

These scarecrows remind me of fairytale or children's song.

Charming ladies!
They look more like life-size dolls than scarecrows.

Asuka was the capital of Japan at the end of the sixth century. 
Most of its legacy remains buried underground
while some of the ancient burial mounds and temples, ruins of ancient structures,
mysterious stone objects,  and other historic sites are open to public.

Asuka is one of the places I feel connected to the ancient times.
The exotic flower takes my thoughts to the time
when it was first imported from China.

I hope you enjoyed walking with me in the warm sunshine.
Which scarecrow would you like to vote for?

Incidentally, my youngest grandchild Y enjoyed his first Sports Day at his kindergarten yesterday.
Three-year-olds were simply cute, running or dancing in a fancy costume.
Five-year-olds amazed me with their terrific marching band and coordinated group gymnastics
as I had been so in F’s kindergarten.
The flailing around three-year-olds will change dramatically in a few years.

Monday, September 25, 2017

The changing seasons

Soap bubbles in light and shadow.  Thank you, little ones, for assisting me to photograph.

The ephemeral iridescence of soap bubbles capture the essence of childlike wonder.

In changing seasons, summer things don’t pop out like bubbles
but gradually disappear from sight and memory.
Till mid-September, some summer flowers and insects were hanging in there.

Longhorn Beetle
As autumn draws in, there are some changes under way in the natural world
like falling temperatures, berries, seeds, yellowish grasses, autumn flowers, etc.

Red Berries of Cornus officinalis, or Japanese cornel

Hagi, or Japanese Bush Clover

Having good appetite would be one of the signs of autumn, too.
Would you like to have Chinese course dishes?

Or, how about French cuisine at a little homey restaurant?

Duckling aiguillette on potatoes, Spanish mackerel and vegetables,
petite pieces of sweets, chestnut icecream on chestnut pancake, etc.

In the cool and crisp air, cosmoses have come to bloom one after another.

The fresh air is for sports.
F enjoyed her first Field Day (Undo-kai in Japanese) at the elementary school.
Pupils are divided to two teams, Red and White, 
to compete in relays, ball-toss game, the mock cavalry battle, to name a few.
They also perform dances or coordinated group gymnastics.

Daytime is getting shorter.
The golden sphere sinks into the burnt-orange clouds over the Ikoma mountains.
The contrast of light and darkness is moving,
which somehow reminded me of Halloween about one month later.

Wish you peace and happiness!

Friday, September 8, 2017

Goodbye Summertime, 2017

It feels that time passes faster as I age.
Summer is the time for me to slow down.

Do you like summer?
To be honest, summer isn't really my favorite season.
When temperature is high with oppressive humidity, my spirit is low.
This summer was especially so.

In the scorching sun, many sunflowers look tired
with their heads bending low.

In the stillness, only cicadas sing vigorously.
Their untiring singing pierces the sultry air and seeps into the pond.

Daibutsu-ike Pond, 4 p.m.
As a child, however, I would like summer.
I recall the free, comfortable, and carefree days with nostalgia.

On July 23 every year, Jizo-bon Festival is held at Y’s kindergarten.
Jizo (we call Ojizo-sama) is a guardian for children.
I think this is one of the good opportunities for the little ones
to learn about their roots.
In the morning, kindergartners gather wearing traditional summer kimono yukata or jinbe
and dedicate a concert to Ojizo-sama.
The evening session includes, games, hands-on experiences, foods and snacks, and Bon-Odori dance.
Not only kindergarteners but also those who left enjoys the festival 
on the first day of their summer holiday,
wishing for healthy and fun summer break to Ojizo-sama.

Center: 3-year-old, 4-year-old, and 5-year-old classes from the top

Mid-August is the time to think about peace.
The 15th of August is the memorial day of the end of WWII.
The people who experienced the war have taught us 
how miserable and devastating a war can be.
Have the people of my generation sown the seeds of peace to the future generation
so that they can harvest it? 

Sagi-ike Pond, 5:30 p.m.
The end of WWII falls on the last day of Obon, the period 
when the soul of ancestors are supposed to come back home.
The whole country comes into somber but peaceful mood
thinking about the late loved ones and ancestors
thanking for why we are here now.
At the Tokae Candle Lighting Festival in Nara Park, candles are lit 
one by one to pray for the repose of the soul.

Sagi-ike Pond, 8:00 p.m.
 After Obon, usually mornings and evenings get cooler day by day
but heat wave was more powerful this year.
Being outside, I felt like that I was in sauna.

Now that the air has become cooler and crisp,
I think it's time for me to face the blog world again.
Hope you had a wonderful summer or winter.

Linked to Weekend Reflections
Mosaic Monday