Monday, March 21, 2011

Vernal Equinox ~ Japan. (& Music for a Monday Trip.)

Thoughts go to our sisters and brothers in Japan at Vernal Equinox, first day of Spring. Hoping fervently that this will mark a turning point and that the worst is over.

Shunbun no Hi, the Vernal Equinox Day, has been a National Holiday in Japan since 1948.

The week of the Vernal Equinox is known as Haru no Higan (Spring Higan). The word higan means “the other shore", and the festival comes from the Buddhist beliefs that there is a river full of illusions, passions, pain and sorrow, that divides the earthly world from Nirvana. In order to gain the enlightenment, the soul must fight with all these and cross the river. When the night and day are equally divided, at the equinox, Buddha appears on earth to save stray souls and leads them to Nirvana.

On the Shunbun no Hi, the family and friends visit the cemetery wash the tombstones…bring flowers, burn incense, pray for deceased and bring offerings: sake and ohagi (rice balls covered with azuki bean). Shunbun no Hi is also a nature festival and a day of prayers for future crops. (See here.)

The cherry blossom is the national flower of Japan. The Japanese celebrate its annual arrival -- friends will gather under the trees to enjoy sake, sing songs, and celebrate the coming of spring. Traditionally, Japan has offered cherry trees to foreign countries as symbols of peace. Designed by the Rabbit Air creative team, this simple silhouette of a tree was inspired by shadows cast by cherry blossom trees on white sandstone in early spring. (See here.)

Some journal entries of an American teacher, Anne Thomas, living in Sendai are online at Ode Magazine. The entries from 14 March are especially moving, and even uplifting, strange as that might seem. Do take a look.

Blog on hold for a few days. We are going to Austin, Texas, with a stop in Fredericksburg and nearby Luckenbach on the way there, or on the way back . We're going to see my husband's second great-grandchild, as well as his daughter and granddaughter. Husband has a birthday on Tuesday too.

It's Music Monday (almost forgot). Here's Waylon (still sadly missed) singing Luckenbach Texas.



Gian Paul said...

Some of the best Brazilians I know are Japanese descendants - and most of the time, even 2-3 generations after they arrived here still a "pure race", in the sense that they do not "mix the Portuguese way", at least not so easily.

But: is it the climate, the tropical or astrological surroundings, the food?, they are quite different from the Japanese Japs I knew back in Europe and travelling to Japan for business.

After a stupid accident, my neighbours, Japanese descendants, offered me a beautifull Ikebana arrangement (even with a Japanese ceramic vase) which I now discovered, they had prepared for their own Spring festivities.

Also: I met a Brazilian fellow who lives around here, married to a Japanese, who used to earn (for a Brazilian) very good money in Japan, -in Sundai- now totally destroyed, as a ship welder.

Imagine how happy these people are to have escaped the catastrophe there. But now they plan to go back as there is plenty of work to reconstruct Japan, they were told by relatives who survived. So life goes on.

I told them to at least wait until that nuclear mess is getting cleared, but I am Swiss...

James Higham said...

Now that's an angle on the equinox I've never read.

Wisewebwoman said...

Lovely post as always, T. And wish happy birthday to Himself and his brand new descendant. I must go to the blog you referenced.
I look forward to your post post-travel.
Enjoy yourselves!