Equinox,Pray,Lycoris 秋分の日、祈り、彼岸花

Autumn Equinox

We offer flowers to our grave in the day when the sun set into directly west.

The Equinox day is called “Higan-no-Chunichi”and 7 days adding 3 days before and after the Equinox day are called “Higan”. We place boxes of cake and flowers before the family Buddhist altar and go to the grave to clean it up, burn sticks of incense and pray with our hands together.

The word of “Higan(彼岸)”comes from “到彼岸”in Chinese into which is translated “Paramita” in Sanskrit in ancient India. The meaning of “Higan”  in Buddhism is the final ground after attaining enlightenment. A Man can jump from “Shigan”,this site, to “Higan”, the opposite side, through asceticism which is called “Haramitsu”.

This Higan might have been mixed with “Gokuraku-jodo” in Japan.It’s the pure and peaceful world in Jodo Idea which spread throughout ordinary people from Heian
period(794-1191). We instantly whisper like “Ah,Gokuraku Gokuraku” when we take
hotspring.So Gokuraku-jodo does take root in our mind.Then Gokuraku-jodo is
said to be located in west. Eventually we have prayed ancestors in the day when
the sun set into directly west where Higan=Gokuraku-jodo is exists.

秋分の日

太陽が真西に沈む日、私たちはお墓に花を供える。

その日は彼岸の中日とよばれ、前後3日間を足した7日間を彼岸と呼ぶ。祖先をまつる家の仏壇に花や菓子を供え、墓地に行って墓石を掃除し、線香をたき、手を合わせて目を閉じ、祈る。

彼岸の語源は古代インドのサンスクリット語のparamita (波羅密多/はらみった)の漢訳「到彼岸」。一方仏教における彼岸の意味は、悟りを開いた境地のこと。人は煩悩に満ちた此岸(しがん)から波羅蜜と呼ばれる修行をして彼岸に達するのだという。

日本では、この「彼岸」に平安時代以降に庶民に定着した浄土信仰における、安らかで清浄な世界「極楽浄土」が重ね合わせられた感がある。温泉につかったらつい口からこぼれる「あー、極楽、極楽」という、あの言葉。極楽浄土は西にある。彼岸=極楽浄土を指す西に太陽が沈む日、それも真西に沈む日、そこにいるはずの先祖を拝むというわけ。

Lycoris

I went to our family tomb
in the autumnal equinox Sep.23. Bunches of chrysanthemum, Shikimi leaves and other flowers have been placed by my family yet. I burned sticks of incense, thought my family and pray their happiness and good health thinking of ancestors sleeping in the tomb.

Looking at rice terrace from the cemetery, red lycoris were in bloom there. It’s often called “Higan-bana”which means Higan flower because it comes out just in this season in September. When I was a child, red flowers spreading like spider’s legs scared me. So I cut them desperately by my sword made of bamboo. Stems with no leaves were cut easily
even for a kid. That bad image I had doesn’t seem wrong since lycoris had called “dead man flower” or “hell flower” due to its own poison.

But colonies of lyconis blooming in paths between rice fields were looked beautiful shined by the sun set. Almost gold ear of rice is wealth in our side. Beautiful dead man’s lycoris is a sign post keeping both sides together. If they are, the shining sun is warm spirit of ancestors who are living in the other side, Gokuraku-jodo.

彼岸花

9月23日、秋分の日の夕方、私は墓地に行った。墓石にはすでに家族が供えてくれた菊の花やシキミの葉の花束が差してあった。線香を炊き、手を合わせて祈る。家族のことを思い浮かべ、墓に眠っている先祖様たちに対して、健康を祈り、幸せを祈った。

墓地から見える棚田に目をやると、マンジュシャゲがいたるところに咲いていた。別名、彼岸花。ちょうど9月の彼岸の時期に咲くことからそう呼ばれる。子供の頃は、真っ赤な蜘蛛の足のように無数に広がった花が恐ろしく、竹を細く切った刀で、次々に切り倒していった。葉を持たない茎は気持ちいいぐらいに簡単に切れた。そしてその悪い印象はあながち間違いではなく、マンジュシャゲは毒をもっていて、昔から「死人花」とか「地嶽花」とか呼ばれていたんだそうだ。

にもかかわらず、畦道に咲く赤い花の群生は、夕日に照らされて美しく見えた。黄金色に近づきつつある稲穂は、こちらの世界の豊かさ。美しい死者の花は、こちらと彼岸をつなぐ道しるべ。だとしたら眩しく差し込む夕日は、浄土にいる先祖たちの温かな気持ち。そんなことを思いながら、棚田を後にした。

Ohagi

There is a standard of cake as offering of Higan. Bota-mochi in spring and Ohagi in autumn. Though their names are different, they are the same Japanese cakes which soft rice are struck again and again and rolled with much of bean-jam.Bota-mochi and Ohagi were named for Botan,peony, and Hagi,bush-clover which bloom in each season. When I was small, I don’t like it. But now its rice’ salty taste and bean-jam’s sweet taste is lovely.
Even after finishing dinner, I ate 3 Ohagis. Sweets of Gokuraku-jodo is stunning.

MAP  (Rice Terrace in Asuka Village)

http://diddlefinger.com/?ll=34.462268,135.819941&z=14&t=m

おはぎ

仏壇に供える食べ物には定番がある。春はぼたもち、秋はおはぎ。これらはどちらも同じものを指し、やわらかいお米をついた団子を、たっぷりの餡で包んだ和菓子のことだ。春はボタンの花、秋は萩の花にちなんで、そう呼び分けるらしい。小さい頃は苦手な味だったが、大人になってから食べると、もちのしょっぱさと餡の濃厚な甘さが存外美味しく、夕食の後にも関わらず用意した3個ともを食べてしまった。極楽の味、おそるべし。

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About kojiyoshimoto

Born in 1979 and grew up in Nara.Working for a city hall in Nara prefecture after 3 years carrier as an editor of design magazine in Tokyo. Hope my posts you inspire to go abroad to Japan!
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