kasuga-jinja in miyayama-cho

21May06

Since I’d only been to Kasuga-jinja during winter, I hadn’t realized what a beautiful spot it was for blossom viewing. Unfortunately I only arrived to take pictures toward the end of the blossom-viewing season, and though there were still quite a few blossoms on the trees, the ground was already thick in a cloud-blanket of fallen blossoms. It was a beautiful day, however, and families had brought their children out to see the last of the blossoms and to enjoy the sunny day. While I took photos of the shrine and the blossoms, children played in the small tornadoes of fallen blossoms that were continually being created by the strong breezes running around the shrine grounds.

One of the guardian Shishi at Kasuga, reposing under the cherry blossoms.

I’m not sure what this bull image is intended to represent, but I’ve seen several of them at various Shinto shrines. This one is currently sitting on a bed of fallen cherry blossoms.

Here are two of the many small shrines that can be found on the hillside behind the main shrine hall at Kasuga-jinja. To celebrate the New Year, offerings of daikon, carrot, and other vegetables are left in front of each of these shrines.

The torii gateway at Kasuga-jinja, with tsutsuji peeking through the posts.

The hill behind Kasuga Shrine has an incredible tsutsuji garden that is only open once a year during the season in which they blossom, which just happens to come right at the end of cherry blossom season. These tsutsuji are actually a wild strain and known as “yama tsutsuji” (‘mountain tsutsuji’). They’re quite different from the more common domestic varieties which tend to have thicker foliage and larger flowers. Mountain tsutsuji is a more open and delicate variety. As you can see from this photograph, the garden at the top of Miyayama was simply overflowing with the purple of tsutsuji blooms

A close view of one of the tsutsuji flowers in the Kasuga garden.

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2 Responses to “kasuga-jinja in miyayama-cho”

  1. 1 laurel

    are they azaleas? hard to tell, but there’s wild ones in marin…

  2. 2 Trane DeVore

    Hmmm. I’m really bad with plant names — it’s probably my biggest failing, really. When I get back to the States I have a feeling that I’ll know all these plant names in Japanese, but won’t know what they are in English. Someone will say, “Are they azaleas?” and I’ll say, “I think they might be tsutsuji.” And then I’ll get looked at by that look that says precisely, “I have no idea what’s coming out of your mouth.”


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