Wabi-Sabi Sole

Finding Beauty with Imperfection

Category: Hydrangeas

Meigetsu-in Temple 

One last stop on my 2017 hydrangea temple tour was at the Meigetsu-in Temple in Kita-Kamakura. The temple is known for having beautiful blue hydrangeas. 

Despite the humidity and mostly overcast skies, it was enjoyable walking around the temple seeing all the beautiful hydrangeas. 

So much blue! 

The bamboo made a stunning backdrop. 

The temple had unique aspects and they were also highlighted with hydrangeas. 

I couldn’t help but giggle to myself when I saw the random off color hydrangea. Each time I thought about the monk who planted the hydrangea. “You had one job – plant the blue ones!” Perhaps, he was colorblind. 

The other funny encounter of the day occurred shortly after I paid to enter the temple. A worker approached me quickly and said a bunch of Japanese and then said, “shawl” in perfect English. Excuse, me? She motions for me to put on a shawl over my shoulders (I’m wearing a tank top). I don’t have one. Because it’s summer in Japan and it’s humid. The worker left as quickly as she had approached. Seeing the very confused look on my face, a nice person who witnessed the exchange explains that she would like me to put on a shawl if I had one. I don’t, is it ok if I still visit? Hai, he said. Ok, arigatōgozaimas. Hmmmm. As I’m walking around feeling very self-conscious about my bare shoulders, I see several other ladies in tank tops. I use a little deductive reasoning to determine it wasn’t my shoulders that bothered her. It was my tattoo. My very taboo tattoo to the Japanese. The Japanese associate tattoos with the Japanese mafia. I laugh / roll my eyes every time I think of the possibility someone confusing me with Japanese mafia. Regardless, I learned another lesson. To be respectful of my host nation’s preferences, it is best cover tattoos when visiting temples. 

Quality Time

The leader of my Friday English class organized a field trip for us today. We went to visit Hasedera Temple to see the hydrangeas and enjoyed lunch at the Kamakura Park Hotel. 

This view! 

And these hydrangeas! 

The hydrangeas were still blooming and very beautiful. 

Two of my Friday students were able to attend today and we spent the morning walking around the temple and the town of Hase. Here is a picture of Junko-san and Haruko-san, both are star students! 

After visiting the temple, Junko-san drove us to the Kamakura Park Hotel. We enjoyed a four-course lunch! Our appetizers included: snow pea soup, slice of chicken with vegetables, tomato jelly with sashimi, and a half quiche. 

Next course was snapper with fresh Kamakura vegetables. The purple piece is Kamakura diakon. The purple is natural! 

The third course was Sakura chicken with more fresh Kamakura vegetables. The piece of pumpkin was my favorite. 

And finally dessert. Yogurt with cherry topping, pound cake with whipped cream and honey dew sorbet. All of it was delicious! 

Before leaving the hotel, I asked to have my picture with Junko-san and Haruko-san. They are so sweet. I enjoyed being able to spend quality time together visiting the temple and viewing the hydrangeas. The added bonus was them teaching me new Japanese phrases. 

Today’s Japanese phrases:

“Urikire” – sold out 

“Sandaru” – sandal

“Karasu” – crow 

“Oishī” – delicious 

Ever so slowly, my Japanese is improving. I must stress slowly. 

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. 

Kyu Shiba Rikyu Garden

The second garden I was able to visit on my Wabi-Sabi list was the Kyu Shiba Rikyu Garden. The garden is located on the south side of Tokyo and only about an hour and fifteen minute train ride. 

On my walk from the train station to he garden I was passed several times by the Shinkansen. Seeing the train still makes me happy. I can’t wait to plan another trip! 

Also, on my walk to the garden, I passed several beautiful hydrangeas blooming along the street. The hydrangeas alternated blue and purple. They were stunning. 

The garden was a bit smaller than the Hamarikyu Garden and again nestled in the middle of the surrounding city. The garden centers around a pond with a designated path to travel around and across the pond. 

Along your journey around the pond, there are many beautiful land and rock formations to look at and perhaps contemplate the passing of time. 

There was also one beautiful hydrangea blooming in the garden. 

As I was walking through the garden, I came across these interesting rock stairs. 

Originally, I thought they were just a cute path to follow. While reading the brochure, I realized they were there to simulate a “waterless waterfall.” The intention was to remind visitors of water coming off the mountains and flowing into the pond. Can you see it? 

On the far side of the pond was a group of artist painting the garden with watercolors. For every artist you see in this picture, there are two tucked in somewhere else. They obviously found their wabi-sabi. 

There were so many different features along the path. I enjoyed the stones and islands. 

Can you see the turtles? 

A beautiful view! Without a doubt, I was able to experience wabi-sabi in this lovely little garden. When you visit, if we need a quiet break from the hustle and bustle of the city, we can take a detour. It was worth the ¥150. 

Dina’s Birthday 

Today is Dina’s birthday. To help celebrate the day, Dina, Katie, Andrea, and I decided to visit one of the few temples in Kamakura (Hase) we had not been to yet. Hasedera Temple is very famous for hydrangeas. The temple and surrounding gardens were beautiful. I enjoyed the visit so much that I’m going to add it to my Julia tour of Kamakura. Today, the Temple was especially crowded because it is the beginning of hydrangea season. Even though the hydrangeas weren’t quite in full bloom and despite the crowds, the Temple was beautiful and well worth this visit and many more. There was a steady stream of people on the street to visit the temple. 

The hydrangeas were beautiful. So many picture opportunities. 

There was a hydrangea route to follow to keep traffic moving in one direction. The route went past several potted hydrangeas and then up the hillside. 

The view from the first level was lovely and perfect for a group selfie. 

We continued to climb up more steps and the hydrangeas and views only got better! 

After reaching the top of the hill, the path went back down the hill. At one point, Dina and Andrea were above Katie and me. Perfect opportunity for another group selfie! 

A few close up hydrangea pictures. The different colors were so beautiful. 

There were also several kawaii statues. 

Another part of the Temple was a cave dedicated to the Goddess Benzaiten. There were many statues and it was definitely a cave. Check out the low ceilings. Dina and I had to walk like a duck to make it through! 

The oyster prayer cards were also interesting. According to the temple brochure, the statue appeared floating on the sea and drifting with the guidance of oysters attached to the statue. As a result, the shrine was established. 

After our visit at the temple, we went to lunch in Kamakura. To you, my friend! Cheers, to another good beer! Happy Birthday!! 

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