Sunday, July 27, 2014

The legacy of Isui-en Garden through its owners

The site of Isui-en Garden now used to be a part of the land of nearby temple. The ground was bought in the 1670s by Kiyosumi Micikiyo, a wealthy bleacher and hemp textile maker.  He reconstructed the front (west) garden and built two houses with thatched roofs: Sanshu-tei and Tei-shu-ken as a family villa.
The bridge below leads you to Sanshu-tei building.

 The building remains the same as it was at the construction time.


The place is used as a Japanese restaurant. 
Isn't it nice to have meals while looking at the garden?

Leaving the front garden and passing by another building, Hyoshin-tei, ......

...., you'll be stunned with the view unfolding before your eyes.
Wakakusa and Kasuga mountains and Nandiamo Gate of Todai-ji are used as "borrowed scenery".

The larger rear (east) garden designed by Seki Tojiro, a businessman of Nara, dates from 1899.  Tojiro hired Horitoku, a garden architect from the school of Urasenke, for the redesign and left two Tea Ceremony houses, Seishu-an and Hyoshin-tei. 

The pond is dug in the shape of the  sosho style Chinese character for 水(water) different from the Japanese garden convention of creating 心(heart).  依水園 Isui-en literally means "garden founded on water".  It's ponds and streams are fed by the small adjacent Yoshiki River.

Hyoshin-tei (1911) is a Tea Ceremony house for more commonly drunk “sencha" different from the Tea Ceremony house for “matcha”. The former is open and is built so that it becomes one with nature, while the latter is closed in a narrow confined room considered to be an entire universe by itself.  (Differences between sencha and matcha)
See how the building looks tuned with nature through the old handmade glasses, ...... 

Inside ceiling made of smoked bamboo and reflection on the glass
.... and how it stands quietly facing the garden.

Many historical assets were taken into the construction of the back garden. For example, old Japanese cypress timbers of Shin-yakush-ji Temple (8th century) are used in the construction of Hyoshin-tei , which adds the weight of history to the sukiya style of building.

The “tsukubae” stone basin was once treasured and used by Hidenaga Toyotomi 400 years ago.

This split huge stone is two-fifths of a foundation stone once used at the seven-storied pagoda of Todai-ji Temple (8th century).

Shall we take a stroll in the garden? 

 The stepping stones were formerly used as mortars to grind the pigments used in dyeing.

While strolling, you always hear the rustling sound of water.

These photos were taken in the middle of may when azaleas were in full bloom and moss were getting greener and greener.

In 1939, Jyunsaku Nakamura (1875-1953) who made his fortune in Kobe purchased Isui-en in order to construct a museum in a historic site to host his personal collection: Chinese mirrors both Tang and Han as well as Chinese bronzes, ceramics of Japan and from Korean peninsula, and so on. He set up Neiraku Museum on its ground and made the garden as it is now.  The third-generation Nakamura, a young 25-year-old man, is preparing to be maganging and hosting as the next owner.
I'm fascinated with the continuance of the legacy.  Three men came to this place with the same dream in the different times and added something new to make the positive progression.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Hydrangea walk in the forest green


About 50,000 hydrangeas of 25 varieties bloom one after another from mid-June through the end of July at Kobe Arboretum (Kobe Shinrin Shokubutsuen).  Though hydrangeas at the arboretum are taken care, hydrangeas grow wild at Mt. Rokko and is the official flower of Kobe City.

My favorites are mountain lace-cap hydrangeas, which have delicate figure with smaller flowers and leaves.

The characteristic of hydrangeas at Mt. Rokko is soft pristine blue color influenced by its acidic soil from granites and its great temperature difference between daytime and night.  The color is called “Rokko Blue”.

 When I looked up, they looked like floating in the sea of juicy green: it was a wondrous sensation.

As a blue-color lover, I tend to take pictures of blue flowers more, but of course hydrangeas of any other color are as attractive as the blue blooms.



Do we look all right?

Some rare hydrangeas can be seen like "Shichidanka", of which rediscovery after 120 years from Edo period (1603-1868) made this flower famous.  Have a look at Full blooming Shichidanka hydrangeas at Mt. Rokko

Kobe Arboretum is Japan's largest botanical garden (142.6 ha).  Kobe City purchased an area of the Rokko Mountains close to the urban  area and planted approximately 1200 varieties of trees from each region of the world including Japan while keeping the natural forests as much as possible. It was opened in 1940.
Natural forest in summer
Autumn (Glorious Mandala of autumn at Mt. Rokko)
This is my all season favorite Hase-ike Pond.

Around the pond, I found a froglet with only a teeny tail stub.
Hello, grasshopper!  What’s your name?
 The white camellia-like flower is Stewartia pseudocamellia, or Japanese Stewartia.  娑羅樹 (shara-no-ki)) in Japanese has just started blooming.

White petals and orange anthers
 Japanese Stewartia blooms high above.
Can you spot two white flowers among the foliage in the photo below?

While walking along the Metasequoia avenue leading to the parking lot,
I felt like that green essence was dripping on me.

See you next year at the Rokko Mountains!


Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Flowering lilies by the sea at Maishima Island

In the late afternoon glow

A very large plot of land about 50,000 meter-square on Maishima Island is covered by about two million lilies from early-June to early-July.  Since it is hot and humid on a sunny day during the rainy season, I entered the lily garden around 5 p.m. and stayed till 7 p.m.  Because of the location, right beside the sea, sea breeze was comfortable.  What I saw was shimmering indigo-blue sea, clear blue sky, and lilies of various colors and species.

Konohana Bridge





At around 7:00 p.m., the sun was setting behind the mountains across the bay but big container ships were still busily passing by.  Incidantally today's sunset time is 7:13 in Osaka.

Maishima is a man-made island located in Osaka Bay. It was included in the candidate sites when Osaka had aimed to bid for Olympics but at that time I didn't know what it was like except for two things: one is the huge waste treatment plant with unique architectural appearance which looks like the work of Dali, and the other is as a site for Summer Sonic, one of the best rock festivals in Japan, which is held in Maishima every summer along with Makuhari.   On my first visit to the island I learned about the wide range of opportunities of sporting such as tennis courts, football stadium (base for Cerezo Osaka), baseball stadisum, indoor athletic field, spacious open dog-runs, racing circuits, barbecue garden, and so on.  I understood why it was called Maishima Sports Island in English.