Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Sogenji Temple / 曹源寺

In September, I had a chance to visit and stay at Sogenji Temple in Okayama for two nights. The abbot of the temple is Shodo Harada RoshiThey have international students from all over the world.  The atmosphere was somewhat familiar to me, because I started my Zen practice in US. Still, it was my first time to sit formally in a Japanese Zen temple, and I was quite nervous.
The experience showed me that whole-hearted practice is the same everywhere. It seems to me that there was a good balance of joy and formality.

The highlight of the visit was having an informal conversation over tea with Harada Roshi. I had so many questions to ask, and he was there to offer his reflections. Not only the conversation itself, but also just to sit with him was a quite experience. He had such an intense presence.
I want to thank Steve T for making such a wonderful connection, and Daichi-san for her open-mindedness.

Please check out my web album for more photos

Monday, September 12, 2011

osaka castle 大阪城

I went to the Osaka Castle in September.
Its most impressive part was the stone wall around its moat.
It is quite old; they say its construction was finished in the 17th
century. It is built perfectly and it is beautiful to look at: bigger
stones on the outside, smaller stones on the inside.
Its construction started in the 16th century; but the castle we see
now is not that original structure.

The park is famous for Sakura (cherry blossom) and plum trees.

Many birds travel through. It is an ideal place for bird-watching.


tenshukaku - the top of castle is clouded with visitors 

The castle looks small among modern buildings. 

Sunday, September 11, 2011

kurokawa Dahlia Garden    黒川ダリア園

In Kurokawa Dahlia Garden you can find 350 different kinds of Dahlia
from mid-September to early November. The garden is located in
beautiful, good old countryside.

It was truly stunning to see so many gorgeous flowers in so many
different shades; there are about 1300 plants, they say. I had great
fun taking photographs with a macro lens.


In this area you will also find a school that is closed because of depopulation. The building is used as a community center now.

近くには、廃校になった”黒川小学校”。今は公民館として使われているようですが、小学校のとき、夏のキャンプで泊まったのはこの校舎だったのでは? と、古い思い出が蘇ってきました。 

Sept / Oct is a season for rice reaping.  She was using a handheld sickle.


for more photos of flowers and the school, please visit my web album


Saturday, September 10, 2011

Unique about Japan

I am back in Japan; I noticed a few things which I thought were
unique about the country.

First, the number of vending machines! They are everywhere! In the
streets, at the stations, stops, in the park, in the middle of
nowhere! You can buy almost anything from them: juice, tea, snacks,
cigarettes, even beer!

Second, bathrooms, and I mean clean bathrooms! Very unlike New York,
there are many public bathrooms in the city. Their cleanliness is
impressive, too. Many of them have a "washlet", an electric toilet
seat with water spray feature for washing. Yay!

Third, the overwhelming number of bicycles! Even more in the city!
There are parking lots for bicycles near many public places. I saw a
device for your bike to attach an umbrella so you can ride your bike
in the shade. I saw special bike-baskets to carry small children.
Some young mothers ride with two children, both in baskets, one in
the front, one in the back!

Yesterday, I saw a group of young mothers riding their bicycles with
their kids tucked into bike-baskets. I wish  I had taken a photograph
of them. To be honest, it looked quite dangerous!