Noilly Prattle: Getting Reacquainted

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Getting Reacquainted

Korakuen -- one of Japan's Three Great Gardens

autumn chrysanthemums
     Road Buddy and I have been, for the past several years, globetrotting; that is to say we have been traveling away from where we live—Japan. Although Japan is a “foreign” country to me, it is the country of her origin, yet we both had developed a kind of been-there-done-that attitude towards traveling around Japan.

our municipal auditorium
near Korakuen Garden
           It was all new to me some 30 years ago and I used to travel around on my motorcycle visiting castles, Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples, to be joined, after we met, by Road Buddy when we traveled around together on the bike. But, little by little, ordinary life intervened and the goings and comings dwindled as the demands of child and family and making a living grew in importance and priorities. And, so, the beauty and culture of Japan faded in the white noise of daily living and soon got forgotten as a place worthy of our attention.

cake shop along our
walking tour
           Things are different this year. Our focus on international travel is undergoing a metamorphosis dictated by new priorities such as aging and physical injuries—I broke my leg and she has eye concerns involving the retina. We traveled to Europe this past autumn and decided not to go to Europe again for the winter opera season this year, opting to stay home instead.

Asahi River and autumn pampas grass
crow sitting on the
roof of Ujo (Crow Castle)
           There happens to be a well-known garden 後楽園 [Korakuen] right here in our town where we sometimes like to walk around for exercise. It sits on an island in the Asahi River across from Okayama Castle, known as the Crow Castle 烏城 [U-jo] because of it's black exterior. The construction of the garden was begun in 1700 during the Edo Period by the local Daimyo of the Ikeda family as a place of serenity and quiet and to entertain important guests. The garden, however, was open to the public on certain days. Korakuen was designed in the Kaiyu ("scenic promenade") style which presents the visitor with a new view at every turn of the path which connects the lawns, ponds, hills, tea houses, and streams. The garden with its man-made pond is said to be a miniature replica of the Setonaikai 瀬戸内海,--Japan's Inland Sea. 

teahouse garden
           Recently, it being fall and the leaves are colorful, I decided to take my camera with me on one of our walking tours of the area. It was a beautiful sunny day around the magical hour of late afternoon when the low angle of the sun filtered through a thicker layer of the atmosphere renders a soft golden tone to the out of doors. It's a wonderful time for landscape photography.

main gate of Okayama Castle
secondary gate
           As a result of that experience I suggested to Road Buddy that, since we weren't traveling to Europe this winter, we should take advantage of the time to get reacquainted with Japan. She readily agreed and soon came up with the suggestion of visiting Miyajima near Hiroshima city of atom-bomb fame. That trip will be the subject of a future post. But, first, a few new impressions of our own old home town.

a poem by the Emperor on a visit to the Ujo --
the Kanji 烏城  can be seen at the top of the
3rd column from the right

the castle view from the Main Gate area

Okayama Castle 岡山城 aka Ujo    烏城   on the Asahi River


Anonymous said...

Beautiful pictures! When you live somewhere for a long time it's so easy to forget that there is beautiful scenery and landscape right in your own back yard.


Noilly Prattle said...

True enough. I saw your picture of ice on the lake...sort of bring back some old memories. Glad you liked the pix. Went to another beautiful spot near Hiroshima last week and will blog about it later.