Japan trip Part I

Japan trip Part I 

On Cherry Blossom; 

Visiting Japan during cherry blossom season was a happy accident.   My mother was unwell last Autumn so we rebooked our holiday for April which coincided with ‘sakura’ season.  It’s a bit of a double edged sword.  On the one hand the place is so god damn photogenic (sorry if I bombarded you on Instagram) but you have to share it with the world and it’s little dog (in a bag). 

A lesson in how to dress and tie your kimono belt.

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 Cherry blossom worshipping in Japan is nothing short of infectious.  Hoards of selfie sticks are furiously waved in parks trying to capture the moment.  Undeterred by rain, picnickers shelter under umbrellas and the cherry blossom weather report is watched religiously.  

even theeven the restaurants get the artificial cherry blossom treatment

the imperial palace tokyo

one of many bridges which must have inspired monet's giverny garden. 

Le Creuset pots in cherry blossom pink are piled high on the shelves and your your sugar fix is cater for in blossom shaped buns.  Petals are suspended in sweets and crushed up in biscuits.  Girls wear artificial blossom in their hair and green tea is served in bloom painted bowls.   I went from admiring the madness from the sidelines, to obsessively filming falling petals.  You can’t help being spellbound by something so fragile.  An evening’s rain and wind might be mean it’s all gone by tomorrow. 

Adzuki bean paste filled sweets in the shape of a bell

Cherry Blossom season Le Creuset available in Japan.

On Gardens;

Japan has to be one of the most inspiring places for gardeners and landscape designers.   At times, I did start to question the relationship between Japanese people and nature.  Their hyperreal gardening style is so controlled and manicured with no blade of grass out of place.  More animation than place of natural beauty.   I wondered if they only wanted nature at their own convenience.  I’d love someone to explain the fundamentals of Japanese gardening to me properly.  

Okochi Sanso Garden

OKOCHI SANSO GARDEN built by a japanese film star

inspiring moss at the OKOCHI SANSO GARDEN. 

meditation space at OKOCHI SANSO GARDEN. 

Arashiyama bamboo grove

The Golden Pavilion Kyoto

a tree being trained and supported

And I’ll never winge about my postage stamp sized London garden again. With space at such a premium, burgeoning displays of plant pots are crammed onto the streets in front of houses and shops.   Bonsai trees, ferns, climbers, tubs of tulips make every inch of floor count.   You can do so much with a mere 1.5 metres of space, you just need to look at the Japanese.  Florists sell brown paper cones of hand tied posies and vases for one delicate flower.   I always buy the biggest bunch I can afford at home, but the Japanese are masters of appreciating nature on a tiny scale. 

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Even in a built up area, you are never far from a tiny temple or garden.  Who knew that contemplation in a dry rock/zen garden with stones raked into patterns would be so uplifting?  That creeping moss gardens could be so magnetic? Or the romance of just standing on a canal bridge at Philosopher’s Walk, Kyoto.  It must be the way to find balance amongst the pressures of small flats, crowded commutes and stressful office jobs. 

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Philosopher's walk Kyoto

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is this not a great example of retro garden furniture? In a cafe in gion, Kyoto.

Now I’m home, I’m looking at my own garden through inspired eyes and I’m challenged to make every corner of it work as hard as a Japanese garden.

Part II –  Green tea, bullet trains and playing dressing up….. coming soon.