Walking through the woods yesterday and seeing some wild narcissus, I thought we should go and visit Zuisenji (literally ‘Narcissus Temple’), a famous Buddhist place of worship and contemplation originating in the fourteenth century set in the hillside that for some reason I have never been to, with its swathes of fragrant narcissi laid out in the grounds.




When we got there, however, it turned out, disappointingly, that we had missed them.









it is here5873






The place itself though was anything but a disappointment, as you can see.





Beautifully situated in a sun-filled corner of Kamakura it was exquisitely tranquil and pretty, with magnolia in bloom and the first flowering cherry trees of the season.



























cherryblossomat zuisenji



















It was quite a long walk there from our house, though, and we were quite exhausted. After a tempura lunch in a restaurant in the centre of the city we caught possibly my favourite temple, the relatively ramshackle and nondescript Todaiji, tucked down a side road but a place where I always feel strangely emotional and at home. The garden is more unkempt, it is certainly less ‘magnificent’ and dramatic, but to catch it at dusk, just fifteen minutes before it closed, with its cherry trees and tilting sunlight, was really intimate and  beautiful.






There was also narcissus.


















































































































Filed under Flowers


  1. This sounds like an absolutely glorious day and the photos are breathtaking also.
    I love Buddhist temples, adore them. When I was in Hong Kong I went round to so many, including the huge Po Lin Monastary. My favorite one was also a rather small one on a little side street.
    I love when you do these posts about your daily life in Japan, I find it just as (if not more) interesting than the fragrance posts.
    I am happy you were able to see beautiful narcissus at the small temple, yet ironic they were not at the Zuisenji.
    So thrilled you are all together and having a lovely time.

  2. Gorgeous Neil, thank you. What are the bamboo windmill-y things – some kind of offering or good-luck-bringer like cranes or shide? (Never knew the word “shide” before – just looked it up!)

    • Hurrah G is back.

      I have no idea what they are, actually (you know me). And ‘shide’ is a ridiculous word.

      Both temples WERE gorgeous, though, I have to say. Sometimes Japanese beauty is unsurpassable.

  3. Reblogged this on The Black Narcissus and commented:

    Spring! Spring! Spring !

  4. Nelleke Oepkes aka Booknose

    How mind blowing blessedly quiet.
    Here people got arrested for walking among the tulip fields!
    There was a special TV program with a walk through the Keukenhof, our national pride and park with all kinds of artificially grown bulbs in carefully designed geometric beds. Not a stem out of order in the surrounding grass, hoovered to a millimetre (?) precision.
    I saw this park for the first time and was hugely disappointed.
    I think we no longer deserve the title of country of tulips and bulbs:, we confine and imprison them in artificial habitats.
    Thank you for a wild and wonderful walk amid your namesakes in the woods (cherish them).
    I loved the black (how appropriate) and white photographs.

    • This is an old post, just so you know……..I think the temples are still open, but the walks across the hills to Kamakura are closed – they haven’t done the post-typhoon clean up yet! Still, all these flowers have been open, and I felt like seeing this walk again.

      I was actually thinking about tulips and perhaps writing about them next. I too LOATHE neat flower beds: I can see absolutely nothing beautiful about them. The worst ones are in Yokohama near the baseball stadium, where people come to take close ups and red and yellow tulips and bright orange marigolds….hideous.

      Tulips in themselves, though….

      • Robin

        Just what I wanted to read and see. I love narcissi. The look. So demure. The scent. Provocative. A good combination. I have some just blooming now in a planter on my sunny deck and walking to my door surrounds me in a cloud of richness. I’ve been wearing vintage Narcisse Noir a great deal lately. I have those stout, square-ish old bottles of pdt along with a half ounce of perfume. Even the pdt clings for a long time. I think NN might be in my top 10 or 20.

        Thanks for posting this heady bit of escapism.

      • It was escapism for me as well!

        Narcisse Noir is quite grounding, isn’t it: mysterious and sexy but somehow no nonsense. No fear or tentativeness involved with that one.

        Interesting what you say about narcissi actually (I can never quite write that word comfortably): they are anomalies in a way……with most flowers there is a harmony within, but with those, yes, the demure look and then the almost raging pungency of the fresh toxic smell as you inhale. They are very compelling creatures.

      • Robin

        Glad to hear the escapism was mutual. Hope you and Duncan are on a reasonably even keel at the moment, staying safe and enjoying your time together without feeling too terribly restricted. Ric and I are enjoying the extra peace and quiet; it seems less abnormal and alarming than it used to when things first clamped down.

      • I think so too. I am glad I insisted on not going in to work. Doing lessons at home is also stressful, but at least I don’t have permanent virus panic. I still WISH the government would do a proper lockdown but don’t want to get all riled up thinking about it.

      • Robin

        Oh, and I love the way you describe Narcisse Noir.

      • Do you experience it similarly? It doesn’t work on me at all, but I wear it anyway sometimes.

      • Robin

        It’s different for me. It takes me down a sentimental path to the daffodils that grew in our garden when I was a very young child. I think they must have been the first flowers I ever really smelled and loved, so there’s something intrinsically tender and innocent and vivid about Narcisse Noir, even though I can see how it might be perceived much differently. For the same reason, there’s some sadness to it — or rather, smelling it makes me a little sad. No, more nostalgic, I think. But that’s still not quite it. I remember even as a kid the smell of those daffodils made me long for something I’d never had. At seven or eight. Saudade. That’s the closest. That’s the potency of it for me. And there’s that Caron base. It runs strongly though Bellodgia to the same effect. Almost fruited. Super chic, Old School ultra-feminine style, which is how I feel when I wear them.

      • Oh definitely. I guess I can never actually relate the smell of daffodils to the narcissus in that perfume. The closest I have ever had to that was when I picked a narcissus walking up the hill and then detected almost the same smell in a very pristine bottle of Infini. I was gobsmacked with pleasure.

      • Robin

        Interesting. I have yet to smell a true-to-nature hyacinth note in any hyacinth-centric composition. Nope, not in Metal, not anywhere. Sadly. And as much as I love that not-quite-hyacinth note. Wow, that would be something if I ever found it. It would shoot up to a Top 20 fragrance instantly!

      • I think vintage Chamade smells like actual hyacinths for a few moments, in the Pdt and parfum. As a general ‘note’, as in a list of flowers like Metal, I agree, it’s more of a ‘feeling’.

      • Robin

        I’m wearing all my Chamades right now, including vintage pdt and parfum, and I wish my nose had cooperated! Grrr. I couldn’t get that initial hyacinth note; the rest of the composition was intruding in every case. Frustrating. Now, of all of them, it’s the current edt that gets closest, but I think if I didn’t know it was in the notes, I wouldn’t necessarily pick it out. I get all those balsamic things going on much more readily. I’d like to borrow your nostrils, N. I’m craving hyacinth and ours in the garden are all kaput!

      • I love hyacinths so much as well. But not when they are too mulchy and putrid and oversweet like a 50’s shower cap.

      • Robin

        Seriously, lol!

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