A Local Perspective on Life in Tsukuba, Ibaraki, Japan.
Tsukuba`s Trees Aglow- with Autumn Leaves and Winter Lights
The winter illumination went on tonight (November 16, 2016) in “the pit” at Tsukuba Center – this year there will also be a skating-rink open to the public, for a fee, thru the end of the year. There are also elaborate illumation schemes outside the Tsukuba Express` Kenkyu-Gakuen, Banpaku-kinen Koen, and Midorino Stations – thru March 24th 2017
MOMIJI in Matsushiro Tsukuba.
By Avi Landau
Autumn colors come late to Tsukuba`s trees, and like the rest of Japan, Christmas lights around here- often set up in trees, come up early ! That makes late November and early December a great time for tree gazing- both by day and by night !
Enjoying the autumn foliage- especially red leaves, was a favorite activity of the Heian Period aristocrats- ranking in excitement, second only to Cherry blossom viewing in spring to which it provided a beautiful calendrical symmetry.
Interestingly,the much more recent custom of setting up elaborate winter illumination schemes, creates a perfect balance with Japan`s much more traditional illumination events- the Buddhist MANDO-E or MANDO-SAI in which offerings of light are made to departed spirits bathing ancient temples and their grounds in a mysterious glow.
Now , however, winter illumination events have become vastly more popular than their centuries old summer counterpart- with hundreds of thousands visiting illuminated spaces- especially at Tokyo`s Mid-town shopping complex, but also at MANY other venues around the country.
Illumination at Tsukuba Center. This year, the 12th annual HIKARI NO MORI (Forest of Lights) event held at Tsukuba Center, was first lit up on November 26th. You`ll be able to enjoy this night scene for an extended period this year.
A Japanese maple can be referred to as a KAEDE (楓) – which derives from KAERU no TE – frog`s hands- alluding to the shape of the trees` leaves, or as MOMIJI (紅葉) which is actually a generic word for any leaves that turn red in autumnm though it is especially associated with the maple (Matsushiro, Tsukuba)
With the brilliant red leaves (and in Tsukuba the much more common yellow leaves) hanging on by a thread and soon to fall away, you have only a few days of being able to enjoy the glow of the trees-by both night AND day!
The illumination at Tsukuba Center brings out nice crowds- couples of all ages, families with kids, and anyone with an I-Phone camera. All seem to be drawn to the light like moths to a candle.
The common Japanese term for autumn foliage is Ko-yo-written with the characters 紅葉 meaning RED leaves. When the leaves are yellow the character 黄葉 （also read Ko-yo- but meaning YELLOW leaves) is used
Winter illumination events provide a perfect balance to Japan`s summertime festival`s of light- which are called MANDO-E or MANDO-SAI
A traditional summertime MANDO-SAI creates a hauntingly beautiful scene