Otsukaresama deshita: Reflection of Japan

Today (or is it yesterday now? time no longer exists for me) Christina and I began our journey back to Philadelphia. The long flights have given me ample time to reflect over what we have done.  For the past four months for Christina and I have been traveling Japan and studying both horticulture and general Japanese culture. It was a very busy time for both of us and we had so many amazing experiences throughout our time.

Almost everything I ate in Japan was delicious. I always enjoyed seafood and the fact that I was eating it every night is something that I will miss dearly. I have had no problems adjusting to the Japanese diet.

Fantastic dinners all the time.

Fantastic dinners all the time.

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Some might find this horrid. I see it as dinner.

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You have two choices when it comes to ice cream. Bean flavored or Green tea flavored. I love both so I couldn’t pick a side on this never ending conflict.

Can anyone tell me what is  happening on this cereal box?

Can anyone tell me what is happening on this cereal box?

Japanese gardens are heavily influenced by the surrounding nature. Everywhere you walk in Japan there is natural beauty which is why gardens focus on showcasing the beauty of the surrounding nature by creating a scene, as if you were walking on a nature trail and just stumbled upon an awe inspiring view.

Shugakuin Imperial Villa. The strength of this garden is how it is located along the mountainside of Kyoto.

Shugakuin Imperial Villa. The strength of this garden is how it is located along the mountainside of Kyoto.

Mountainside village along the Iya vally.

Mountainside village along the Iya valley. Japan is an island full of beautiful mountain side views, which easily explains why their art and gardens draw so much inspiration from mountains and the sea.

Awaji seaside.

Awaji seaside.

Bonsai displays use the tree, scroll and accent plant to depict a scene.

Bonsai displays use the tree, scroll and accent plant to depict a mountainside scene.

Saiho-ji (Moss temple). After spending 30 minutes copying a buddhist prayer, I entered one of the best gardens Japan has to offer.

Saiho-ji (Moss temple). After spending 30 minutes copying a Buddhist prayer, I entered one of the best gardens Japan has to offer.

We went to Saiho-ji during a perfect Autumn day. The japanese maples were at their best.

We went to Saiho-ji during a perfect Autumn day. The japanese maples were at their best.

More amazing fall color.

More amazing fall color.

Katsura Rikyu.

Katsura Rikyu.

Besides visiting gardens we learned Japanese Gardens and culture from others. Japan has so many customs that are completely different to what I am accustomed to. As someone who never enjoyed wearing shoes inside, I was more than happy to remove them at every temple we entered. The formalities of introducing yourself in japan involves a lot of bowing. People in Japan are always more than happy to help people in need. Which is good, as someone who cannot understand Japanese, people were very accommodating to me.

The tamashī (soul) of a gardener.

The tamashī (soul) of a gardener.

What I was really impressed with was the amazing people I have met throughout my Journey as well as what they taught me. All of them are masters of their specialized craft and when demonstrating what they were teaching, they managed to make it look like a casual affair, as if anyone could do it. Of course, that was never the case when I tried it, but they showed me what kind of person I want to be.

Matsusue-sensei our bonsai teacher.

Matsusue-sensei our bonsai teacher.

The bonsai I created when learning about bonsai. My goal was to have it appear wind swept. Hence the dead branch (Jin) facing the same direction as the live branch.

The bonsai I created when learning about bonsai. My goal was to have it appear wind swept. Hence the dead branch (Jin) facing the same direction as the live branch.

A modern bonsai display at Kiseki no Hoshi.

A modern bonsai display at Kiseki no Hoshi.

Horinouchi-sensei taught us to sharpen tools, traditionally prune pines, and construct traditional bamboo fences.

Horinouchi-sensei taught us to sharpen tools, traditionally prune pines, and construct traditional bamboo fences.

Tomoko-sensei, who taught us modern Japanese displays as well as traditional Japanese displays. A very impressive leader who seems to be managing five different things at once and still dedicated a lot of her time to us.

Tomoko-sensei, who taught us modern Japanese displays as well as traditional Japanese displays. A very impressive leader who seems to be managing five different things at once and still dedicated a lot of her time to us.

Another person I need to thank is Christina. For 8 months we have been  sharing many wonderful moments as we were traveling the world. I couldn’t have asked for a better partner for this journey as she was the one that was always on top of things and making the team look good. Very smart and insightful, she will do great things with whatever she decides to do in the future.

Christmas town was not expecting Christizilla that day...

Christmas town was not expecting Christizilla that day…

Our eight month journey gallivanting and gardening around the world is over, but I’m very excited for what is next. For the final four months of TRIAD, I will return to working at Longwood’s conservatory. I have learned a lot over my time abroad and now is the true test to see how I can apply to what I have learned. But for now, I’m taking a nap. A long nap…

Someone's gotta tuck those baby dwarf dolls properly!

Someone’s gotta tuck those baby dwarf dolls properly!

2 comments

  1. What an incredible experience. This is a wonderful post with beautiful pictures. We are regular visitors to Longwood Gardens. Looking forward to seeing some of your work when you get back.

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