Monday, September 9, 2013

Red Snow

For you,
I went out to the fields
to pick the first spring greens-
all the while on my sleeves
a light snow falling.
- Emperor Kōkō 光孝天皇 Kōkō-tennō (830 – August 26, 887) the 58th Emperor of Japan. From The Ogura Hyakunin Isshu 小倉百人一首.

In Nepal red is an auspicious colour. It is a the colour of life and vibrancy. Brides wear red when they get married and not the white like in the western tradition where it symbolises purity. We put red tika on our foreheads as a blessing. And women wear red during Teej festival rejoicing the joy of life. Yes, red is definitely my colour of choice.

In Japan I have seen red being used in a different way than I am used to. More sparingly and with that typical finesse that is so natural in Japanese culture. A bench with red blanket set in a sea of green. Red bridges over babbling brooks are more common, but I do not know why they are coloured so. Or a red mat under the zen-black of a tea ceremony set. I could go on and on. Nuanced use of red creates a dramatic effect. One is drawn not so much to the red per se but to the totality of the scene. That splash of red serves to focus the visual sensation of the looker but actually accentuates the scene.

I went into a dark forest of green and found splashes of red. Perhaps that is the light snow falling on me. I am thankful for that red snow.

Images: At Hotel Chinzanso Tokyo 椿山荘 (May 2013)


  1. An interesting perspective to the purity of life to the sensuality of existence! Very interesting blog you have! Insightful and thought provoking!

  2. I try to let the photographs do the talking rather than my writing. Thank you for the comments. That is always appreciated as it is what keeps me going.

  3. Red bridges over babbling brooks are common? Sounds interesting. Surely there's some significance to that. What colour clothes do most Japanese people wear btw?

  4. Not sure why a lot of the traditional bridges are red. I have to ask my friends. As for dress, mostly it is the latest fashion, so the colours are varied. People are usually immaculately dressed. That is such a joy to see specially for someone like me from this part of the world where raggedness is the norm.