Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Peaceful places

The bamboo forest.

Tea house at Okochi Sanso garden.

The blinds in our room at Arashiyama.

The garden where an early morning stretch class took place.
I watched and copied from the window.

The entrance to our machiya in Kyoto.

The Zen garden at Ryoanji.
It is important not to wear holey socks in Japan.
You never know when you might need to take your shoes off.

A sculpture in the Open Air Museum at Hakone. 

A flower strewn water channel.

The Buddha at Kodaji temple

Shinjuku Park Tokyo.


Kenninji, the oldest Zen temple.

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Japan was

sometimes off-putting.

Did I mention the tick?

The Japanese lethal virus laden tick.
Biting me. 3 a.m.

I didn't know it could be lethal at 3 a.m 
but I did know it wasn't welcome on my futon.
So with very little time to spare before catching the bullet train,

we paid a visit to the International Medical centre
with the tick in a little plastic box.

'Don't worry,' they said, patting my arm kindly.

'Incubation period up to two weeks,' said Dr Google.
'Early symptoms like the common cold.'
'Incurable,' said Dr Google.

Guess who had a common cold for five days.

Guess who I believed about the likely prognosis.

I'm fine.

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Japan was

sometimes unfathomable.

Little rocks with aprons and one with a crocheted hat.

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

The pink and the white

When we first arrived in Kyoto, I was worried that we had come too soon.
The cherry trees were showing scant sign of flowering
and the weather was cold. 
I could have taken comfort from the words of Yoshida Kenk├Á,
a  12th century Buddhist monk who asked,

Are we to look at cherry blossoms only in full bloom,
the moon only when it is cloudless?
Branches about to blossom or a garden strewn with faded flowers
are worthier of our admiration.

Unfortunately I do not possess the philosophical outlook
of a 12th century Buddhist monk
and 6000 miles is a long way to travel to see bare twigs.

The view from our ryokan window in Arashiyama.
That's a Sagano Scenic Railway train.
 It used to stop to have a look at us, 
while we had a look at them across the Hozugawa river.

In the event, we saw the sakura in all its transiently beautiful stages
from first opening - 

The Philosopher's Path, a walk along a canal lined
by hundreds of cherry trees.

Nijo castle garden.

Kodaiji  Zen Temple and raked gravel rock garden. 

- to hanaikada, the word used to describe
cherry blossom petals floating on the water's surface like a raft.

Shinjuku Park, Tokyo.

Monday, 14 April 2014


The black-eared kite wheeling and diving over our heads -

 a painting on silk in our machiya in Kyoto.

A heron biding its time on the Kamogawa river -

the red-crowned crane at the entrance to Nijo castle.

The Emperor's picnic set from the 19th century
 in Horyu-ji treasures galleries of the National Museum Tokyo -

a hanami picnic party in Shinjuku park.
This one was very civilised and in fact our bags were searched 
for alcohol as we went in. 
Later on in Ueno park
the blue plastic sheets were spread with less regard to
cherry blossom viewing and a little more to . . .

sake barrels donated to the Meiji shrine Tokyo.

The rather tasteful mini-bar in our hotel room.