Last month I met with Hayashi-sensei, a professor at Awaji Landscape Planning and Horticulture Academy (ALPHA – this is the where Triad students have accommodation in Japan) (淡路景観園芸学校).
She mentioned that she is leading a project at Izanagi Shrine (伊弉諾神宮) constructing a new tea garden on the shrine grounds. Hayashi-sensei has studied the Japanese tea ceremony for 8 years, and she designed the layout for the new garden and has been heading up the installation as well. One of the stipulations for the garden is that everything must be sourced from Awaji Island. Hayashi-sensei asked if Adam and I would like to join her on a plant collecting trip for the garden, and of course we were very excited to join her.
We drove to nearby Shirasuyama (白巣山) to do the plant collecting. A new dam was going to be built, so we were cleared to collect plants as they will likely be disturbed during construction or submerged after.
We collected a number of different ferns, mosses, and flowering plants some of which you may be familiar with as ornamental plants in America. Most surprising to me were the groves of flowering camellias (Camellia japonica). I am so used to seeing them as small to medium sized ornamental shrubs in America, but here on the mountain there were some that must have been about 30 feet tall! They also varied in color and bloom time.
Hayashi-sensei will be getting back to me with the IDs of the many ferns and mosses we collected.
After we had all finished filling up our baskets, we drove to Izanagi Shrine so we could get the plants in the ground.
As Hayashi-sensei stressed to us, it is very important to understand and have a working knowledge of the Japanese tea ceremony before you design a tea garden. There are many formalities in the ceremony which are facilitated by the layout of the garden itself. This is why she has studied the tea ceremony for 8 years.
I’m can’t wait to attend a tea ceremony next month!
– Bryan Kottke