Hase-dera

japan_hase_deraTucked in along the walls of a valley just south of Nara is the Buddhist temple Hase-dera. The Japanese visit in the spring to see the cherry, plum, and magnolia in blossom. The compound is huge with over thirty buildings. Long flights of stone steps help you traverse the topography. Despite the size, Hase-dera has cultivated a landscape where it is difficult to separate the artificial from the natural. Click on the image for a larger view.

Plenty of Fish in the Sea…

tsukiji_more_fish_in_the_seaA report was issued recently on the state of the cod fisheries in Maine. After decades of overfishing, a strict quota was placed on the level of the catch. Based on models of cod reproduction, the stock should have rebounded, but it didn’t. What was left out of the model was the change in the environmental conditions in the Gulf of Maine. That body of water is one of the fastest warming areas in the ocean. It is claimed that if we protect the environment, it will destroy economic growth, it will kill jobs. Yet, I don’t see the current plan working out very well…

Satori

Japan_binzaru_2Satori is the Japanese word for enlightenment, awakening. Zen Buddhist believe this does not happen gradually, but comes like a clap of thunder. D. T. Suzuki, the Japanese Buddhist scholar and philosopher, describes it as “seeing into your own nature,” “…to see our own ‘original face’ even before we were born, to hear the cry of the crow even before it was uttered, to be with God even before he commanded the light to be.”

The image is of Binzuru on the island of Miyajima in western Japan. I have written about the legend of this charming figure before. This type of scarf is popular with school girls and a kind offering this time of year. Click on the image for a larger view.

Happy 2015

holiday_2015_new_yearsNaomi and I wish you a wonderful and prosperous new year.

By the Japanese calendar, this is the year of the sheep (but not the goat). Click on the image for a larger view.

New Years Eve in Tokyo

japan_tokyo_new_yearsNew Years is a big deal in Japan. It is simply not a party during the evening of December 31st. It begins then, but will be celebrated for the next several weeks. January is a month of firsts—the first visit to a shrine or temple (hatsumode), the first drawing of water, the first calligraphy, the first day of business, and so on.

This is the main gate to Meiji Shrine, the largest shrine in Tokyo. In the first three days of 2010, 3.2 million people visited this shrine. When you think that most people leave a ¥100 coin (about a dollar) as an offering, New Years is an important time for these places. Click on the image for a larger view.

Barn

new_england_barnThe barn is the quintessential piece of New England architecture—the Ansel Adams photograph commonly published that is not from the west coast is of a barn in New Hampshire. These structures reflect simultaneously the area’s vibrant agricultural tradition and its decline. Click on the image for a larger view.

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Transience

new_england_marionettePeterborough, New Hampshire, was home to a marvelous marionette theater (don’t call them puppets). Started by the retired newspaper publisher Ted Leach, this theater put on classic opera in the town and around the world. Ted is shown backstage manipulating Mimì from the opera La Bohème. In 1999, a fire destroyed the 155 year old Baptist Church that was home to the company. Click on the image for a larger view.

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