During my trips to Japan, I was fortunate enough to visit many interesting places and see wonderful views, buildings, gardens, and pieces of art. My Japanese friends like to joke that I’ve seen more of Japan than they have! Every day of my trips was full of excitement, and during the evenings I repeated the impressions I'd made by looking through the shots I’d taken that day and previous days. However, among all those impressions, some stand out as the most memorable…
I may be not special to say that blooming sakura impressed me a lot. Standing under sakura trees and looking up I saw a ‘waterfall’ of tender light pink blossoms on the background of a blue sky – that was amazing! Together with the fresh spring air, the mood of awakened life was really joyful and overwhelming! The grandest view of sakura I enjoyed was standing on a top of a hill in Azumino. The sakura trees looked like foam on a wave at the foot of the Hida Range Mountains. That grand space and the warm spring wind on a bright sunny day made me happy and full of life.
I've also experienced special feelings when facing grand statues of Kannon. Their scale and calm expressions made me feel a connection to something bigger than common, everyday life. The grand statue of Ushiku Daibutsu against the bright blue sky and sakura that bloomed at the end of October is one of my strongest memories from Japan.
My Japanese friend often tells me that I’m Japanese, too, because I share the same aesthetic taste and mentality – particularly, the appreciation of nature and natural beauty. At home, I’m always happy to see the first wildflowers after a long winter, and I was excited to find early spring flowers in Nagano. It was late March and snow was still covering some shadowy places; suddenly I came across a brook, or maybe it was a small river, and saw a miracle – many snow white flowers growing right in the brook! Those tender flowers are still among my most favorite.
Speaking of flowers, there is one more miracle – blooming fuji, or wisteria. It’s hard to describe its beauty as it must be seen with your own eyes! I found it particularly magical with the evening lighting - it felt like being inside a fairytale!
I’ve never had the opportunity to see blooming lotus flowers, often said to be the flower of Buddha. Of course, I’d seen them in photos, but never in real life. When I finally saw a pond full of blooming lotus in Ueno Park, it was a thrill. Those big and tender flowers hid under huge leaves with water drops adorning them. I got the feeling that lotus really are a sacred flower of the Gods.
Some more special moments I experienced included standing under huge sacred trees and feeling the protection of kami (Shinto gods), watching the power of a waterfall that made its way through the rocks, feasting my eyes on a sunrise along a deserted coast of the Pacific Ocean, and a sunset in Osaka with dark silhouettes of harbor cranes.
Some great moments of enlightenment I’ve experienced are connected with Fuji-san. After quite a long wait, the top of Fuji-san finally cleared from behind clouds and sparkled with snow in all its beauty – it was a really exciting moment shared with many people around! Climbing Fuji-san was even more exciting and I’d say it was surprising. Surprising to see many blooming flowers on a volcano ground, to hear absolute silence, and to stand higher than the clouds!
All of those moments have a special place in my memories and in my heart. I guess everyone has their own special moments, too!