I haven't written in this blog for a while, and the image above helps to explain why. I took the photo on October 26 at Nikko, a World Heritage Site a few hours away from Tokyo. The building shown is the entrance gate to the Haiden of the Taiyuin-byo Shrine. Surrounding the buildings are tall Japanese cedars. This building is only a single part of a very large grouping of spectacularly adorned shrines and temples set appropriately in a magnificent mountain forest. I chose this particular structure for this blog entry because of what I saw but could not photograph inside it. A guide who spoke only Japanese took the waiting group inside the Haiden, where we sat on tatami mats and listened to him. Since I couldn't understand what he was saying, I looked around the large room where we seated. On the ceiling above were a multitude of golden dragons. In front of me on the left and right of the guide, probably a Buddhist cleric, were sculpted metal flower arrangements, perhaps bronze. The one to the right appeared to be a lotus arrangement, often seen in Buddhist temples. But to the left was an arrangement that appeared to me to be a rikka design (or at least similar to a rikka), one of the oldest styles of ikebana design. I was pleased to see the large flower arrangement sculptures in such a sublime setting. Ikebana originated hundreds of years ago from floral offerings in Buddhist temples.
Since this blog is entitled "ikebana opens door to Japan," the next several entries will be about my visit to Japan. Without my interest in ikebana, I never would have learned so much about Japanese history and culture and then wanted to go there. Ikebana truly opened the door to Japan for me.