When I opened LINE, I received photos and videos of my grandchild’s sports festival. In recent years, more and more schools have been holding sports festivals in the spring, but I remember that sports festivals used to be held in the fall. I feel nostalgic. And today is already after the equinox, and the period of “autumn equinox” in the solar term has begun. This year’s autumn equinox is from September 23 to October 7. The solar term is further divided into three categories, and today is the first phase of that period. The first phase is explained as “thunder stops its voice,” meaning that it is the time when the thunder that often rang during the rainy season in the summer calms down. The clouds that generate thunder are cumulonimbus clouds, also known as cumulonimbus clouds. However, those cumulonimbus clouds have also lost their momentum, and we often see autumn-like clouds such as “scale clouds,” “sardine clouds,” and “sheep clouds.” I feel that this year’s autumn came suddenly from a long summer, but what will this year’s autumn be like? I am both excited and a little worried.
It’s amazing how the temperature has dropped sharply since the equinox. Even so, it’s still over 30 degrees Celsius during the day. There were tropical nights with temperatures over 25 degrees Celsius, but the temperature on the morning of the autumnal equinox was below 20 degrees Celsius, so I was surprised. I could feel the coldness as dew fell on the cockscombs. This summer has been a record-breaking year, and this trend has been going on for a while now. The catch of saury has decreased, the flowering of cockscombs has been delayed, and the effects of climate change are widespread. Unlike earthquakes and typhoons, there is a lack of awareness of the crisis of climate change, which makes it even more scary. It’s the same with diseases. The condition often progresses without any symptoms, and when you realize it, it’s too late. The situation with climate change is different from that of diseases. It is recognized everywhere on Earth, but national egos are prioritized, and measures are slow. Hegel’s dialectic “transformation from quantity to quality” is also applicable to the natural world. Transformation in a good sense is welcome, but transformation in a bad sense is a problem.
Autumn is the season of harvest in Japan. In the golden countryside landscapes, there has always been an indispensable figure – the scarecrow. These human-like dolls were created to ward off pests like sparrows and crows in the rice fields and farms. They were traditionally made from patched-up old clothing and were often crafted with a single leg made from bamboo or straw. “Henohenomoheji” is always written on the face. At times they appeared dignified, and at times they seemed lonely, as if reflecting the emotions of those who looked upon them. However, these scarecrows have become a rarity in recent times. You can only find them at “scarecrow festivals” in certain places or in areas catering to tourists. Much like the cliché of scarecrows being used as a symbol of insignificance, sparrows and crows had long since figured out scarecrows’ true nature. Whether the scarecrows knew this or not, when the red spider lilies began to bloom around them, they seemed to gain a new lease on life. With outstretched arms, they stood resolutely alone in the fields, as if proudly declaring, ‘I am the one protecting this rice field,’ and their stance was undeniably endearing.
We often use the phrase ‘Japan’s original landscape.’ In this context, the ‘original landscape’ refers to the collective image of an old, typical Japanese scene that comes to mind for the Japanese people. However, if you were to ask which era in ancient Japan this ‘old Japan’ represents, it becomes a perplexing question. The key to this landscape, in this case, is the cluster amaryllis. When you inquire about when the cluster amaryllis began to be seen in this way, there are various theories, but the ultimate answer seems to be that we do not know. If we assume it was introduced alongside rice cultivation, it could date back to the Jomon period, and if we had clear documentary evidence, it might be attributed to the Muromachi period. Asukamura, a small village located in the central part of Nara Prefecture, was once the site of Asuka-kyo, the capital that flourished as the center of Japan’s politics, economy, and culture. The remnants of its prosperity from 1400 years ago, hidden amidst the tranquil countryside, stir the romance of those who visit. The cluster amaryllis that bloom there evoke a sense of nostalgia even for first-time visitors, making it truly worthy of being called ‘Japan’s original landscape.
I always think, what a glamorous yet quaint flower it is. Around the equinoctial week of September, by the lush rice fields, not in a single cluster but here a group, there a group, one or two standing alone in the foreground, and far ahead forming clusters, they bloom. Not in a riotous burst of color but in a way that doesn’t fail to captivate human eyes, unquestionably a scene of autumn. On the path by the paddy fields in the distance, a woman walks with a bright red parasol, her steps seeming somewhat lonely and precarious, and she suddenly appears, then disappears with a whoosh. Back in high school, when I learned to read sheet music, I bought various music scores and devoured them. I still remember the excitement I felt when I discovered this “Manjushage” in a rather thick songbook, maybe it was called “Complete Collection of Japanese Songs.” The song “Gon Shan, Gon Shan, Where Are You Going?” composed by Kosaku Yamada with lyrics by Hakushu Kitahara, it has the style of Japanese folk songs, and it also has a melody reminiscent of a lullaby, with a feeling of a pilgrim’s lymn. But back then, I didn’t think much about the meaning of the lyrics. Now, as I read the lyrics again and hum the song, I feel an indescribable sense of loneliness, as if it’s approaching with the scene of the blooming Manjushage and the deepening sense of autumn. Is the Manjushage bubbling up like a child who passed away at a young age, or is it the child who couldn’t be born into this world due to circumstances? We all live with the uncertain reality that we can’t control. Please, don’t kill your child.
The heat of summer has passed its peak, and the rice stalks in the paddy fields are about to be harvested. Suddenly, red spider lilies bloom, as if they have agreed to do so. They seem to be celebrating the rice that has grown for about half a year after being transplanted in the spring and overcoming the scorching heat. After blooming, red spider lilies grow leaves, and they wither in the early summer of the following year. Red spider lilies are poisonous plants that have strong toxicity in their underground bulbs. In the past, they were eaten after the starch in the bulbs was detoxified as a famine food. They are also often planted in the borders of rice fields and cemeteries, using their strong odor and toxicity to protect rice fields from moles and rats, and to protect the bodies of the dead from animals during burial. For this reason, red spider lilies have many other nicknames besides the alternative name “Manjusha”. However, recently, the active ingredient of red spider lilies, galanthamine, has been said to be useful for Alzheimer’s disease. As a result, the Alzheimer’s disease drug “Reminyl” was released in 2011. The red spider lilies are now in full bloom, and they are a flower with endless topics, not to mention their beauty.
Despite the recent hot weather, Higanbana have bloomed in full bloom in time for the coming of the equinox. It is a very punctual flower. Higanbana bloom in fields and gardens all over Japan, not as much as cherry blossoms, but they are still a common sight during this time of year. A few Higanbana in a wide field or garden may go unnoticed, but when they bloom in large clusters, they transform the surrounding landscape. The peaceful countryside scenery is transformed into a colorful autumn scene. It is a scene that makes you feel the leaving summer and the coming autumn. Each person carries their own thoughts and feelings when they see it. In the far distance, there are cumulus clouds lingering, a remnant of summer, but above, thin brushstroke clouds float in the blue sky. A red dragonfly crossed over Higanbana where a swallowtail butterfly was perched.
Nirvana is a state of leaving the world in which the fire of desire is extinguished, the human being is liberated from the instincts, and the mind is at peace. I still don’t want to leave the world, but when I am buried in the cosmos like this, I feel like I am close to nirvana. The origin of the word “cosmos” comes from the Greek word “Kosmos, Cosmos”, which means “order”. It is the same as calling the universe where stars are arranged beautifully. It is often said that it came to be called cosmos because the petals are arranged neatly, but it is not only that, but I think that it came to be called cosmos because I found a neat order like the stars in the night sky, even though it looks chaotic at first glance. That’s why I can be in a state of nirvana.
As usual, the garden is still in the midst of a hot summer day. Momiji-aoi have bloomed, with their five red petals looking like five-spring propellers or screws. Koushokki is another name for Momiji-aoi and is often used in haiku due to its number of syllables. Momiji-aoi are perennials that grow wild in eastern North America, Georgia, and Florida. They can grow over 2 meters tall. The leaves are palmately deeply divided, like maple leaves, and the large flowers, which are about 15 centimeters in diameter, resemble the flowers of the hollyhock. Each flower blooms for a single day before dying, but new flowers continue to open. The flower language of “gentleness” is thought to be derived from the large, moist, deep red flowers, which have a generous and simple atmosphere. In English, scarlet rose mallows are also called “Texas star hibiscus.”
相変わらず真夏日が続く庭に、モミジアオイ(紅葉葵)が真っ赤な五弁の花を咲かせました。まるで５枚バネのプロペラかスクリューの様です。紅蜀葵(コウショッキ)はモミジアオイの別名で、音の数の関係で俳句にはよく使われます。モミジアオイは北アメリカ東部、ジョージア、フロリダなどに野生する多年草で、２m以上に成長します。葉が掌状に深く裂けてモミジの葉の様で、直径十五センはある大きな花が葵の花に似ていることからモミジアオイの名が着きました。一つ一つの花は一日咲いたらその日には枯れてしまう一日花ですが、次から次に花を開きます。花言葉の「温和」は、大きくてしっとりした深紅の花が鷹揚で朴訥とした雰囲気にちなむと思われます。英語では「Scarlet rose mallow（緋色のバラのようなアオイ）」や「Texas star hibiscus（テキサスの星のようなハイビスカス）」などと呼ばれます。
Yesterday (September 16) and today (September 17) are the Danjiri Festivals in Kishiwada, Osaka. I used to go to the festival often when I lived in Kishiwada, but now I live a little far away and don’t have the energy to go, so I mostly watch the live broadcast on YouTube. The thing that surprised me the most when I moved to Kishiwada was the strong feelings that the residents have for the Danjiri. In July and August, you can hear the sounds of the flutes and drums of the ohayashi music from the Danjiri sheds day and night. There are nightly gatherings at the community center nearby. I had a middle school student who was good at sumo, and in spite of invitation by local high schools known for their strong sumo wrestling, he turned them down because he couldn’t do Danjiri. It’s true even if you watch it in person, but even if you watch it on Youtube, the enthusiasm that comes through is extraordinary. The Kishiwada Danjiri Festival is a major autumn event with a history of over 300 years. It is a major event that brings together people from the community to carry around a Danjiri that costs over 100 million yen each. It is also a major event that arouses a sense of community that is being lost.