Hōzuki Fruit

Chinese Lantern fruit

While the flowers were being arranged in Goten for this arrangement, one of the “lanterns” fell off. Not being familiar with hōzuki I was surprised to learn that the papery coverings conceal a tomato-like fruit. The hōzuki used in the arrangement are rather large, and as you can see the fruit is similar in diameter to a 100 yen coin.

I was told that the fruit is not normally eaten (a quick search online reveals that it is poisonous but has some medicinal uses), but that the fruit can be made into a sort of whistle. Children used to (and some might still today!) soften the fruit by rolling it between their hands before removing the seeds and meat of the fruit through a hole where the stem had been. After the fruit is cleaned out leaving only the casing, you can blow into it and it will make a noise. I didn’t manage to give it a try with the fruit above (it was probably not ripe enough for the process to go smoothly anyway), but the next time I find some discarded hōzuki


Cicada Spotting

Large Brown Cicada

I finally managed to find a cicada to post a picture of! While cicadas are all over the temple grounds, it’s hard to track one down for a picture if there are too many in one place or if they are in really thick trees. Fortunately, this guy was relatively secluded, and more importantly, very loud. This type of cicada is called aburazemi in Japanese. The general word for cicada is semi and another word is added on like a pre-fix to specify what kind of cicada. My personal favorite is the minminzemi, I’ve only heard them once so far this summer and I haven’t heard one at Ninna-ji yet. I’ll keep an ear out!

Hydrangea near Goten

Hydrangea near Goten

Blue and purple hydrangea (“ajisai” in Japanese) have been blooming for a couple of weeks now, I’ve seen a few that have already lost their petals. This hydrangea near the entrance to Goten, however, is still going strong and in a particularly beautiful color!

Bird’s-eye View of the Temple

Ninna-ji Temple

You have to be some distance away from the temple to get a view like this! It is easy to see that Ninna-ji is truly at the base of a mountain in this picture. I’ve tagged several of the structures that appear in the photograph, see which buildings you can identify! There is a large copy available on Flickr, click the image to go to Flickr and download the larger size.