Finding Beauty with Imperfection

Category: Flowers Page 1 of 2

Greetings From Moab

Welcome back! It’s been a while since I’ve shared a story. I’m super happy to be back – I’ve missed this. Long story short… Dave and I planned a summer vacation that had to fall under the rules of “somewhere we haven’t gone before.” We threw around a few ideas and picked Utah. Because Utah fit that rule easily! (I’ve only been to Four Corners) Here is our plan, we are spending three nights in Moab, four nights in Park City, and one night in Salt Lake City.

We flew out of Memphis early this morning and arrived in Salt Lake City by 10:30am. We picked up the TINY rental car & quickly named it “clown car” and hit the road for Moab.

The drive was beautiful. Lots of rocks and a couple train sightings.

SLC to Moab
A little freaked out about the speed limit. Our clown car didn’t really like going that fast!

We stopped about half way for a pit stop at a local brewery. CrossCut – It was a bust. The word brewery had a different meaning in this area. Funny story, I marked this as a spot to have lunch on our drive to Park City. It has been crossed off!

We made it to Moab around 4 pm. We are staying in a cute AirB&B in the center of Moab. We unpacked the clown car and set out on foot in search of a beer. Our destination was a mile down the road at the Moab Brewery. The beer was cold and apparently Johnny B’s IPA is number one in the state. The brewery had the fastest food service we’ve ever experienced. I forgot to snap pictures of our dinner – I’ll get back into the blogging habit soonest.

We made it! Pass the beer!

A few pictures of flowers blooming around town.

Tomorrow we are heading to Canyonlands National Park. I’ve mapped out our route. It’s full of overlooks and short hikes all to look at rocks in the desert. My nerdy science heart is so happy!

Cutest Corner Garden

Along our normal running route is a cute little garden. The garden is special for a couple reasons.

1. It’s not really a garden. It’s actually a parking area, but the owner doesn’t appear to have a vehicle (just a bicycle). In their parking area, they made a little garden because the cement pad is not as cute as plants.

2. The owner of the garden changes out the plants every month. This enables them to showcase what is blooming during that season.

3. It’s down a dead end alley. We run down it because at the dead end is a way to cut through to park. The alley is mostly used by pedestrians transiting to the park, making the garden even more appreciated.

In March, I decided to start documenting the garden with a photo each month. At this point, I have four months of pictures. Two things are in each picture, the bicycle and the bark pieces. The bike is so Japanese and the bark makes it all seem more garden-like. Also, with all our runs, we’ve never seen the gardener!

March 2018 – the highlight for me was of course the daffodils.

April 2018 – the azaleas are so beautiful! Also, notice how big the hosta has become.

May 2018 – Roses and a huge hosta. Different than the one in the other pictures.

June 2018 – many tropical flowers. I recognized jasmine and bougainvillea.

I’ll continue to take a photo each month and share again next quarter. I hope you enjoyed the pictures as much as we enjoy passing the garden everyday. You just never know where you will find beauty. It’s the wabisabi way!

Humid Rain – Sole Adventures 

I anticipated during the rainy season, there would inevitably be an early morning run or five in the rain. What I didn’t expect was how humid it would be even when it was raining! Between the rain drops and my profuse amount of sweat, by the end of my run I look like a drowned rat. It’s definitely not pretty. Simultaneously, I feel so sluggish because my clothes are soaked and my breathing is more labored because of the humidity. I was starting to wane on motivation. 

Recently, I read an article in POPSUGAR about how incorporating intervals into your run can help to burn more calories and gain speed. The article encourages runners to alternate between periods of pushing hard and periods of recovery. I don’t really care about speed and who doesn’t want to burn more calories! Plus, I needed something different to help me stay motivated. I decided to try running intervals on my run today. I would run “fast” until I saw a pretty flower! Then I would stop and take a picture. I made it through my normal route without getting too bored! I was constantly looking for the next flower so I could stop. 

And look at the flowers I captured in the humid soggy rain! 

The highlight of my mushy run was seeing and actually being able to pet a boxer puppy on the beach. Normally, the Japanese don’t like you to pet their dogs. But, this sweet girl came up to me and let me pet her! I think she knew I loved the nugget. I used one of my recovery periods to pet the puppy. The way she frolicked as she walked along the beach reminded me of Hannah and was a ray of sunshine on a gloomy and steamy day. I took this picture as they walked away. I caught her just as she turned around to say goodbye. You gotta love the boxer smile! 

Emperor’s Summer Garden

My English student, Manami, invited me to go with her and her mother, Atsuko, to visit the Emperor’s Summer Garden. The Summer garden is located in Hayama and a short drive from where we live. The gardens were lovely. They exuded a more natural ambiance because they were not overly manicured. 

The koi pond had some of the largest koi I have ever seen! Their colors were so bright and their patterns so bold. 

Within the garden was also a beautiful waterfall. 

The other highlight were the blooming hydrangeas. 

We stopped to take a few pictures before we left. The first is of Manami and me. The second is Manami and Atsuko. 

It was a very special adventure. I truly appreciated their invitation to show me a beautiful part of Hayama. I am very fortunate to have met them both and to have the opportunity to learn more about Japanese culture as a result of their friendship. I saw this quote on a bench in the garden and really felt it speaking to me. “This is you life” – I would only add “embrace it”. 

On a more somber note, thank you to our friends and family who reached out to check on Dave after hearing of the collision. He is safe. Our thoughts remain with our friends and shipmates aboard the USS Fitzgerald. It is with deep sadness and a heavy heart, Dave and I extend our condolences to the family and friends of the sailors who lost their lives. May you find peace and comfort in the memories of your loved one during this difficult time. ❤️

Hakusan Shrine

The Hakusan Shrine is on the north side of Tokyo and known for beautiful hydrangeas of many different colors. 

I saved the location of this Shrine a few weeks ago. I wanted to wait to visit until the hydrangeas were in full bloon. I ventured up today hoping to see amazing hydrangeas. It was about an hour and fifteen minute trip on the train. 

I wasn’t disappointed. The hydrangeas were stunning. There was every color imaginable. Purple, pink, blue, and white. With many shades of each. 

This blue one was spectacular! 

I took several close up pictures so you can see the size of the blossoms and the variety. I tried to pick a favorite. They are just too beautiful to not love them all! 

How about this one- what do you see? 

When I first took the picture, I saw a heart. Now, I see a butterfly. Beauty truly is in the eye of the beholder! 

The hydrangeas also beautifully decorated the Shrine.

One selfie for good measure. 

And maybe a few more hydrangeas.

I know, I’m making it really difficult for you to decide when to visit next spring. It is hard to pick a favorite flower. Maybe you can rest easy knowing if you plan a spring visit, you will see beautiful flowers and gardens regardless of the flower blooming. 

Delayed Gratification 

Even though my Tuesday night teaching gig ended three weeks ago, I didn’t receive payment until today. I worked in a trip to Yokosuka today to pick up my earnings and was delighted to see the hydrangeas blooming in the park next to the school where I taught for six weeks. 

Here are a couple shots with the building in the background. I taught on the second floor of the short building in the foreground behind the tree. The building in the background is an apartment building. 

The size of some the hydrangeas were impressive! 

I honestly didn’t expect much payment for this little side gig. However, I was pleasantly surprised not only with the hydrangeas but also with the compensation. Delayed gratification paid off. 

Proving yet again, good things come to those who wait. 

PS. Subtract 4x¥500 for my round trip train ticket each day I taught. Subtract 2x¥4000 for the two dinners Dave and I enjoyed together on two of the four nights I taught. Suddenly, my compensation is nil. None the less, time with my husband & a chance to see hydrangeas- priceless. 

Nogeyama Zoo & Park

Dina and I both needed a trip to the Daiso and we wanted to visit the four-story Daiso in Hinodechō. I thought we would make a detour to help entertain the little person acompanying us. The Nogeyama Zoo is a small and free zoo about a 10 minute walk from the Hinodechō train station. First stop at the zoo was the ice cream stand for a vanilla, apple, and mango swirl. 

There were a couple cool animals at the zoo. The red panda, the peacock, and the giraffe were our favorites. 

After visiting the zoo, we went to the park. From my research, I learned the park had a a variety of flower gardens and this time of year we should expect to see the hydrangeas in bloom. There were several hydrangeas and they were absolutely stunning. 

A couple of my favorites because they include my beautiful friend and one her sweet daughters. 

There were two small rose gardens that deserve a picture or two as well. 

The zoo and park were a pleasant detour. I continue to be amazed at how many quiet parks / gardens are tucked away throughout the major cities. I truly love how the Japanese incorporate natural beauty into urban settings. I look forward to sharing these hidden gems with you when you visit. 

Other Hiroshima Highlights

The city of Hiroshima has several other notable attractions. One is the Hiroshima Castle. It was a short walk from our hotel and the perfect way to stretch our legs after our ride on the Shinkansen. The original castle was destroyed in the bombing and reconstructed. 

The views of the city from the top level of the castle were lovely and so was the breeze! 

A lovely tucked away gem was the Shukkei-en Garden. We arrived Tuesday morning when it opened. We essentially had the place to ourselves. It was quiet and serene. Several azaleas were blooming and the hydrangeas were just beginning to bloom. 

The focal point of the garden was a large pond with several bridges to cross as you strolled through the garden. 

The pond also provided the perfect distraction for Dave. For ¥100 ($1.00), I purchased him a bag of food to feed the numerous turtles and carp. As we walked around, I snapped pictures and he feed the animals. At one spot he had 9 turtles – 3 were to the left of this group.  

There was a lot of thought put into the development of this garden. The sign explains. 

After the park, I had two Shrines I wanted to visit before we had lunch. One was near the castle. (I left my stamp book in the hotel the first day!) The Hiroshima Gokoku Shrine was very large and lovely. We enjoyed making wishes by the carp statues and mustang. 

We continued our walk to the Hiroshima Toshogu Shrine. This ended up being the fourth Shrine of the day. Dave counted the steps – 53 to the top! 

Along our walk to the Hiroshima Shrine, I told Dave we might find a bonus Shrine. We found two! The first was the Nigitsu Shrine. 

And the second was the Tsuruhane Shrine. 

All of the Shrines were destroyed by the atomic bomb. They were rebuilt and along with 12 others are part of the historical walking tour of Hiroshima. At the Tsuruhane Shrine, I was given this map! 

Perhaps, if we had more time and we weren’t already sweaty spaghetti, we would have walked the entire route. Maybe next time when you visit! We could almost fill your whole temple book! 

Yokohama Garden Necklace 

A bright sunny Monday is the perfect time to visit the Yokohama Garden Necklace. 

The Yokohama Garden Necklace goes from the end of March until the beginning of June. It is designed to highlight the green initiatives the city of Yokohama has taken. The main gardens and parks of Yokohama are connected (like a necklace) around the city by filling the urban spaces with strategically placed flowers and greenery. The mascot of the event is the cute bear with a flower hat. Kawaii! 

Today, I went to visit Yamashita Park. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen such an extensive flower collection. The park is along the waterfront of Yokohama Port. The ships provided a nice background. 

And so did the city skyline. 

In the middle of the park, was a large fountain with a statue of The Guardian of Water. 

Interestingly, the Guardian of Water statue was a gift to the people of Yokohama from the people of San Diego. It was presented in 1960. A fitting gift from one coastal town to another! 

As I mentioned, the flowers were spectacular. Roses, foxglove, impatients, iris, lilies, snapdragons, asters, and many others! 

Maybe a few close up pictures. 

Yamashita Park was a small gem bursting with flowers. If you plan a visit next spring, I will be sure to add it to Julia’s tour when we visit Yokohama. 

Roses are Red

Roses are starting to bloom all over Japan. Through my research, I found a small out of the way western rose garden in Tokyo. The Kyu-Furukawa Gardens on the north side of Tokyo. It was a trek on the train, about an hour and 20 minutes. I asked my kindred flower chasing spirit, Dina, if she was interested in going with me. And off we went! Having Dina to explore Japan with is a highlight. I find little out of the way places and ask if she wants to go with me and 97% of the time the answer is – yes! Today, we went to Tokyo for roses! 

The western-style house was designed in the early 1900s by a British architect. The gardens were designed by a Japanese architect from Kyoto around the same time. It was designated as a Place of Scenic Beauty of Japan on January 26, 2006. Looking at the pictures, the British influence is apparent in the building and the Japanese influence is apparent in the gardens. 

The roses were spectacular! Every color and size. I took a couple pictures with my hand for perspective. 

I want to provide you with a true picture of the gardens. A picture or two with all the people! The bottom picture is the rose maze. Keep in mind, this was on a cloudy random Wednesday! 

By playing with the angle, I could capture people free pictures and a selfie! 

The rest of the gardens were so green, lush, and beautiful. They also had a definitive Japanese flair. The focal pieces were large stone lanterns, a stone pagoda, a dry river bed, and a waterfall. 

The “wild stone wall” had us both laughing! Use cation, these rocks aren’t domesticated. 

The only thing I couldn’t capture today was the intoxicating scent of the roses. I guess we need to make our smart phones a little smarter to capture odors! Or maybe not… 

I decided it is my duty to taste as many soft cream flavors as possible as I explore Japan. Today, I enjoyed salted rose. It moved up to number 1! 

One last picture of a fluttery friend I attempted to photograph. Please, slow down!

Tomorrow I will tell you all about our train stamping adventures! 

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