Spring is most definitely in the air! There are flowers around, of course. The plum blossoms are in full bloom and various camellia trees are as well. However, it's a delight to stubble across something unexpected, like this phox that was growing among the rock work fronting a grand house nearby. I can't wait for spring to really be here!
It's cold out - maybe +11C - and I've been outside doing garden chores most of the afternoon. There is always debris to clear away and plants to fuss over. My hands are now ice but I certainly can't complain since Canada is currently experiencing a severe cold snap that makes +11C look positively tropical! Yikes!
There isn't very much that is interesting out there now, I'm afraid. Everything looks a rather bare and there are few flowers although my geraniums are still blooming regularly. Bless them! All my maple trees are completely bare except this one tree with the two seed pods that you see below. We had a ferocious wind storm last week. It was so bad that trains stopped running and schools were closed. I'm not quite sure how these two managed to stay attached!
Despite the cold, there are already signs of spring. Various bulbs that I planted in the fall are already sending up greenery. It always makes me a little uneasy since it's going to get a lot colder in the coming weeks. They should be fine, of course, but it partly depends on how cold it gets. Let's not break any cold weather records this winter, please!
If you are puzzled about this cat, well, I was puzzled too. I was walking through a very small shrine just minutes away from my house and tucked away on the grounds was this goofy looking cat figurine beckoning good luck with both paws. It sat at the base of rather serious looking stone tablet which I expect was commemorating some auspicious event or person. It was so unexpected and I laughed when I saw it.
Ah, good-luck cat, I do hope your beckoning does the trick!
Bring it on! (^.~)/
(Those are plovers flying across the cat's tummy. Plovers dart through the high waves of the sea and brave strong winds while looking for food. As a result, they are seen as symbols of strength and perseverance.)
Top Photo: Original Photo
Bottom Photo: I went back on another day and took this to show the larger context. All those animal figurines are Chinese zodiac figurines that are discarded once their year is over.
3/2/2020 Update: The cat is no longer there. It has been replaced with the dancing boar seen in the photo on 1/2/2020. I'm curious as to what happened to it!
Okay, so I'm a little late with this image but it can't be helped. Life has been a bit all over the place and better late than never, right? (^.~)
This is the bridge at Sumiyoshi Taisha (Sumiyoshi Grand Shrine) in Osaka on January 2nd, 2020. Sumiyoshi Taisha is the head shrine of all the Sumiyoshi Shrines in Japan (there are over 2,000 of them) and was founded in the 3rd century. This makes it one of the oldest shrines in Japan. If you get a chance to visit, make sure pick up an English pamphlet - it will explain the unique layout (the 4 shrines are set up in an unusual configuration) and architecture which is thought to be free of influence from other Asian countries.
Personally, my favorite part of this shrine is the bridge. The official name is "Sorihashi" but it is more commonly known as the "Taiko (Drum) Bridge". During the first 3 days of the new year, close to 2.5 million people cross this bridge as they head to pray at one of the 4 shrines on the grounds. While the bridge may not look that steep from here, you need to watch your step as you walk across it - especially if there are thousands of people coming up from behind!
And don't be fooled into thinking this is peaceful, quiet scene! The grounds of the shrine are crammed full of food and games stalls during the first few days of the year and there is hardly enough room to move through the crowds. Ah, for me, Sumiyoshi Taisha is what spending the New Year in Osaka is all about - the noise, the people, the bridge, and taking this photo from the same vantage point every year...
Happy 2020! \(^.^)/
Wishing you many blessings.
Year of the Rat has just arrived so it's goodbye to year of the boar. I'm a little sad to see it go (I'm a boar) but looking forward to seeing what the new year brings.
In Japan, a new year means new Chinese zodiac figurines for your house. The old ones get thrown out or returned to the local shrine where they may have come from in the first place. And that's where I saw these 2 boar figurines. They were tucked under the side of the main shrine joining other discarded figurines from the past. (If you look carefully you can see a monkey and a dog from recent years.) To be honest, we keep ours. In 12 years I'll bring them out again and they'll be as good as new! (^.~)
I'm a photographer based in Osaka, Japan. I love to take photographs. I like to share.