Monday, 30 March 2015

Mito Kairakuen - Part 3: Bento, tea and flowers

Time to sit down and have lunch with this bento box bought at the entrance of the garden. It's going to be Gyudon (beef bowl) today.

A few meters away, free beverage. I say beverage because I don't know exactly what it was. I've had it before and I almost spat it out because I expected tea but it was more like a salty sour seaweed broth. Not fab.

The free green tea stand. Ah, that's much better, thanks!

Those babies have just been watered, and yaay, we've found the bonsai shop!

So beautiful and very hard to resist. Bao Zhen and I both adopted one of those. Well, one of those at the bottom of the stand, younger and cheaper.

This is Broken on his first day back home. The plum tree's branches are so fragile, I had no idea and was careless, I admit.
Broken did produce very beautiful and fragrant blossoms, though, and he's doing well. One month later and he now has a few more friends to share the balcony with. You can follow their progress here.

Another tree shop.

See you in Part 4…

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Saturday, 21 March 2015

Mito Kairakuen - Part 2: Inside the garden and the bamboo grove

When we saw this couple's plum bonsai wrapped up in a plastic bag we thought it was so beautiful. We HAD to find the shop! More about this later on...

Do you remember the days when you took a picture of the square code with you mobile phone and it linked you to a website giving you all the information you need about that particular topic? Is that a Japanese thing? Not that I would know. My mobile phone is from stone age (possibly ice age), I don't think it even "does" pictures :-))

Some specimens had an incredible aura. This one looks like a woman in bikini lying on the beach with a hand behind her head. Her hair is a cascade of flowers. Quite an incredible tree.

And this one. I don't know how old it is but in its lifetime it bent to a ninety degree angle four times!! And it's still alive, there might be more to come!

Yuka touching the "lucky tree" as instructed.  Let's see if luck comes her way soon :-))

OK girls, let's have a walk in the bamboo grove!

No idea what the bamboo-boxes-in-the-bamboo-forest are for...

Bamboo trees and many cedars as well (wonderful place but hello allergies…).

To be continued…

Radiogram #4

Monday, 16 March 2015

Mito Kairakuen - Part 1: Entering the garden

A day trip to the garden of Kairakuen with the girls on Saturday. Kairakuen is one of the three major landscape gardens of Japan and is famous for its plum trees, in full blossom this week up north where it is a bit colder than in Tokyo (expecting cherry blossoms very soon).

It is of course a tourist attraction, and Japan knows very well how to make a place attractive to tourists. All the main elements are there and it never fails. The seasonal festival, the "plum sisters" to take photos with, the themed shrine, the food stands, the bento boxes, the games for kids, the souvenir shops.

Those are the stairs and the gate of the shrine, but we'll get back to that later on...

The place looks deserted but this was around 10am before the crowd. It's always so much better to arrive early before the buses.

More food. And we haven't entered the garden yet!

Photographing the Plum Queen?

Each of the 3000 trees of the garden is labeled and numbered, with its name, age, and sometimes additional information. Some trees of particular interest also have their own special name (e.g. Moon Shadow).

Bao Zhen's delicate hands taking a snapshot with her phone. Lucky the weather was gorgeous and the sky gently blue. 
To be continued….

Thursday, 12 March 2015

Shameless Self-Promotion Thursday (7) - Growing Trees [Books of Ether Vol.4]

Growing Trees is a poem about making roots
in our own garden and extending branches towards
the world outside.
It's about taking care and caring, about the gardeners
that we all are.

Marie Wintzer

Don't second-guess
growing trees
write off
the unanswerable questions
plant every seed
      springing forth - 
      a compatible labyrinth
welcome to the secret world

Cheryl Penn

Fresh from the oven, the collaborative poem Growing Trees, Vol.4 in Books of Ether, is now available for free download at Scribd. Here are a few lines from the poem, and for the full text please visit:

They said to him you don’t take 
care of yourself in the midst of
mimosa madness
    we shall have to get
someone fake to take care
of you/words/paint/roots 
your memory may be wiped 
but your hat was on
I could not see your eyes 

Rows upon Rows
    of Phylogenic Trees.

You had a dream
Sit down, I will tell you 

running backwards
with your hair
in your face
in a parallel world
where even Time cannot fly. 

That's nice, but
can we make a living
with those shrubs
or are they only going to grow 

You know their mirrors 

aren't that acute anymore 
Are you sewed-up? 

collecting shattered glass roots 
hitting dust from books
eagles on wooden cupboards 

mirrored in dirty bowls
everything is off
when we dream backwards
in a discarded house.
Hey Dad
Madison (from a parallel world

       Sans trees) 
how are you
fine, you 
a connectionlost. 

Maybe you should see
the Taxman on the Hill
(he irons his electricity bills 
but they don't love him back). 
He too
  lost connection
  lost his mind on the Light Rail 

  lost his wedding ring in the mailbox
  lost a decade of photographs 

  lost all craving for junk food 
  lost the remote while TV was watching him
It won't be long until
Dust relapses into Libraries 

Radiogram #3