Imperfection in Japanese gardens

“The flow of the river never ceases, and the water never stays the same…” This is the opening phrase of Hojoki, a famous Japanese essay by Kamono Chomei in the 13 century. Almost all Japanese children learn this in their schools. I think that transience is something that many Japanese hold in their minds, which […]

Shishi-Odoshi as a garden element

Shishi-Odoshi in Japanese garden

Shishi-Odoshi, or scare-deer is a device to frighten deer away. It is a unique garden element that you can see in residential gardens in Japan now. As you see in the photo below, a bamboo tube is set like a seesaw. when the open cut side has water in, the bamboo tube flips. And then […]

Cheerful Music and Mindful Landscape

If you are in Kyoto in early July, you hear some lively music every evening at different parts of the town. Neighborhood musicians are practicing traditional instrumental music, Ohayashi, to be ready for their performance on the top of parading floats (Yamaboko) . I was there ten years ago strolling and listening to the tunes, feeling comfortable and calm. […]

Longing for the Coming of Spring

What tells you the coming of spring? It really depends on person. I happened to see a robin near my house the other day. It definitely was a sign of spring coming. One of my favorites when I think of spring is Japanese apricot or Ume in Japanese (Prunus mume). Its flowers open up in […]

Cat’s Eye View of Japanese Architecture vol.3

If you want to find cats in Japan, you would have the best luck by going to shrines and temples. Why? There are two reasons: One is that the shrine and temple grounds are “public” places where nobody stops you to come in, even if you are a cat. In fact, they used to be the only public […]