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.




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。



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.






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)





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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