A significant aspect of developing and refining a program, particularly one spread across three countries, is communication. To ensure the Fellowship will improve and grow, the TRIAD Partners organized a conference to bring everyone together, including the Fellows, to analyze the first year. This meeting was organized to coincide with the Flowers and Greenery Expo in Japan International Garden Forum. I must say, and I believe the other Fellows will agree, that the conference was a great experience and has been productive in developing the program further. Not only was there open discussion amongst Partners and Fellows, but also the chance to connect with people through sight seeing excursions and social events.
Our first day began with presentations from the senior Fellows, an overview of their experiences so far. After which we traveled down to Kiseki no Hoshi, the Miracle Planet Museum of Plants, at Awaji Yumebutai.
Here we looked at the TRIAD Garden, created by Tomoko-san and her team, and discussed a new design for the space, with a focus on naturalistic planting. This was followed by a review of the Fellows experiences over the past year, focusing on; strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and challenges, known as a SWOC Analysis.
On our second day we were treated to a trip to the southern coast of Awaji to experience a tradional Japanese Puppet Show, enjoy a wonderful meal, and visit the oldest Shinto Temple in Japan!
Our third day was devoted to the International Forum, which included presentations and discussion from Longwood Gardens, Hidcote Manor, Kiseki no Hoshi, and Ueyakato Landscape Company. The topic of the forum surrounded education within the institutions and how great horticulture is achieved. A presentation by Tomoki Kato, President of Ueyakato, was particularly inspiring for me. He spoke of his philosophy in the landscape, abandoning the idea of garden maintenance and adopting rather, the concept of garden fostering.
The last day of our journey was spent with a trip to Himeji Castle on the main Island. Himeji-jo is a World Cultural Heritage Site and considered Japan’s most beautiful castle. At 600 years old, the castle in made of primarily wood, including two central pillars, East and West, that extend 24.6 meters through all six floors. The West pillar, with repairs during resoration, is made from 650 to 750 year old Cypress trees, and the East pillar from Fir. The experience was truly incredible, particularly reaching the highest level, in which the entire city and countryside can be seen.
We also managed to pay a visit to Koko-en, a stunning garden adjacent to Himeji. Luckily for us the clipped azaleas were in their prime.