Given the length of time that has passed since my last blog post you might be forgiven for thinking that I have not done anything notable enough to blog about. You’d be wrong; the last three weeks have been the busiest weeks of my TRIAD experience to date!
Three weeks ago, on a bright and gloriously sunny Friday morning, Phil, Mori, and I took the Express bus to Kobe Sannomiya and from here caught a train to Osaka. The purpose of our trip to Osaka was to visit Sakuya Konohana Kan, one of Japan’s largest conservatories. I was quite excited as my parents had recently arrived here in Japan and had come across to Osaka with us to visit the conservatory. We were also joined by Koichi, an Alpha student, Hiramatsu, an intern from Perth, and our ALPHA advisor, Yamamoto sensei, who had kindly arranged the group visit.
This year marks the 25th anniversary of Sakuya Konohana Kan, which was founded by Osaka Municipal Government as part of the 1990 International Garden and Greenery Exposition. The conservatory is divided into different plant growing areas such as a tropical plant house, a succulent plant house and an alpine house, and in each area the climatic and geographical conditions of the regions from whence the plants originate are maintained. Today there are around 15,000 plants of 2,600 species for visitors to Sakuya Konohana Kan to enjoy. Here are some of my favourite parts of our visit.
Interestingly, these Jacaranda trees (Jacaranda mimosifolia) have been ring barked to promote earlier flowering.
I couldn’t resist the opportunity to give this tree a hug before we left: I felt so ‘at peace’ that it seems to have sent me to sleep!
That afternoon I travelled back to Kobe with my parents who had very generously booked me into a room at the Meriken Park Oriental Hotel in the Kobe Port area. Lucky me – I had some great views of Kobe from my window!
That evening we ventured out into the nearby Motomachi area where we stopped for dinner at a Yakiniku restaurant. Yakiniku literally means ‘grilled meat’ but at a traditional Yakiniku restaurant meat and vegetables are brought raw to the table for customers to grill their own on a form of gas-fuelled barbeque set into their dining table. It was quite a fun meal, not least because there was not a word of English on the menu and we had to rely on pointing at pictures on the menu and waiting for our waiter to do a charades-like interpretation of what we were eating. Turns out that quite a few of the meats on offer were heart! Just as well we live in a rural area of England and are not too squeamish about eating offal then!