Finally

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This book has been five years in the making. It is about all the gardens I visited in Japan from 2007 to 2013. It contains most of the photos I took in the gardens along with maps and other ephemera. I probably finished the text block in 2014 or 2015. Since then it’s been wrapped in plastic and sitting on a table in my workroom waiting for covers.

My first bad decision was making the word GARDEN in French knots. Sometimes I enjoy embroidery; too often it’s tedious and boring. So the fabric, thread and boards have also been sitting on that table for the last five years.

The book is huge. Two hundred sheets of paper 8.5 x 14 inches plus about 50 additional folded pages for the maps and stuff. Altogether it is more than two inches thick bound with three brass screw posts (Chicago posts). My second bad decision was to pad the covers using quilt batting. It only added a few millimeters of thickness but made it much harder to cut the holes for binding. I had to drill three 1/4 inch holes through the text and covers. I have a Dremel tool but it won’t hold the 1/4 inch bit. I improvised using a hole punch. It was an awful job.

This is book number 90.

Beach walking

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Time does not behave as usual here; it expands to encompass many events then passes slowly. We arrived with clear skies and sunshine on Monday afternoon and again on Tuesday. Yesterday and today we have had rain, a gray lake and lots of waves. I love to walk along the beach occasionally picking up pieces of driftwood and photographing masses of detritus left by the waves. Years ago, while I was going to art school, I photographed alewives along a beach in Indiana. The fish were larger than what I photographed this week, alewives in Wisconsin. Perhaps I’ll make a book of dead fish.

The rain stopped long enough yesterday for us to visit a wonderful garden and go to a play in the evening, Our theme this year has been serendipity, or as Jan says, “serene deputy” and the rain didn’t begin again until we got into our cars to return home.

The garden is on the lake

The garden is on the lake

We actually get work done in between eating and walking and visiting. I am still working on French knots for my book cover. Jan and Sandy are both working on books. Anna, a newcomer to our group, has been the most prolific, with wonderful cards and a quilt top. When the rain stops I’ll go back to the beach for more pictures of dead fish.

Photomerge (Adobe Photoshop)

The blog has slowly been changing into a book. I got to March 27 and found five small images and the following: “The first sight of the park is jaw dropping. When I get back to my other computer I’ll try to put together the photos above to show the entire first view.” In the past I’ve done these merges manually. This time I decided to let Photoshop do it for me. To say I am excited by the result is an understatement. I can’t wait to find the next set of images I shot with a merge in mind.

 

Suizenji at Kumamoto

Suizenji at Kumamoto

Information about making a merge can be found in the tutorial section of Photoshop help under “Reshaping and Transforming”.

April 21: Another flea market and window shopping

I have reached the end of my garden viewing. I’m sure there is something I am missing, but it is becoming too difficult to find. The gardens I haven’t seen require more travel time and much more walking. So, today and tomorrow, my last day in Kyoto, will be shopping days.

I started back at Toji Temple for Kobo-san, the mother of all flea markets. It was hugely crowded with people just pouring in. I’ve been at markets at Toji before but I don’t think I have ever seen so many vendors. There were produce stands, food stalls with places to sit while the food cooked, and even a flower and plant market in addition to all the antiques, kimonos, clothing, bags and lots of other stuff. The food intrigued me; many are things I can’t identify and would love to know about.

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When I finally had enough (I never bought anything) I went to the main Kyoto shopping area to visit paper stores. Much as I love Japanese papers (washi) nothing intrigued me enough to cope with getting it home. The sheets are usually about a square meter, which means carrying a tall roll and making sure it doesn’t get bent. I did it in 2007, but the papers aren’t as interesting this year and I am not prepared to deal with it. I will just have to bind my books with the stash I have at home.

April 20: Hokongo-in, Daikakuji, and Matsuno’o Shrine

Another cold, warm day; less wind, but less sun. Late day rain was predicted; I got back to the hotel just as it began. I had a bad night, first time since I arrived. Pain in my legs woke me up and kept me awake. Decided not to do so much walking today. Hokongo-in was just off the bus stop. Good for my legs, but traffic noise never left the garden. This temple is famous for its lotus flowers, which won’t grow until later in the year. The roots were soaking in pots of water in several places in the garden.

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And the waterfall stopped flowing right after I took the picture. I almost had the feeling it started flowing just because I walked toward it.

I got back on the bus and went to Daikaku-ji, another of the large temples near the mountains west of Kyoto. It was not a great garden and I’m not sure how it got on my list.

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Then a different bus and south to Matsuno’o Shrine, famous for its clear spring water used for making sake. I particularly liked the tortoise sculpture in the garden and the little girl feeding the fish.

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April 19: Three more gardens and an unexpected lunch

As hot as it was yesterday, today had sunshine and a bitter cold wind. No wind, you were hot, wind or shade, very cold. I always feel like I have dressed the wrong way; today there was no right way.

i bought a book about Kyoto gardens that lists them by area, making it easy to figure out where to go. First on my list for this morning was Ryoan-ji, a famous zen dry garden. Although I saw it years ago, and I don’t especially like dry gardens, I decided it would be good to see again. Never know when you can learn something new. I arrived to find mobs of school tours and immediately decided to leave.

The next place on my list was Tojiin. I looked for a bus stop and found a sign for a train that stops at Tojiin. I never found the train but finally found a large sign with directions and continued walking. Tojiin was a wonderful garden. No surprises but the usual beautiful, peaceful scene.

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I had no clue about where to go when I left Tojiin. I started walking, looking for a bus stop again. I have a good bus map, so given a stop, which always has lots of info, I could figure out where and how. I continued walking, finally finding a busy street as opposed to the lovely residential neighborhood of Tojiij. The wind was blowing very hard and I was tired, cold and needed to sit down.

I walked into a small restaurant, where no one spoke English except for one customer. He helped me order and get lunch and then sat with me and talked. He is a part-time lecturer at a local university but his primary interest is photography. He is using an old Rollei, shooting 120 film and doing his own darkroom work. He gave me a copy of a beautifully printed brochure showing his work. It was probably done for a show. Nice work, very subtle. After lunch he walked me to Keishun-in the next garden I wanted to visit. I’m sure I never would have found it without him. I almost never found my way to the bus stop afterward.

Keishun-in is one of about 50 sub-temples of Myoshin-ji, which also includes the more famous Taizoin-en I visited earlier in this trip. Kaishun-in is the only other sub-temple open to the public on a year round basis. The garden was pleasant but doesn’t come close to the spectacular Taizoin-en.

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My lunch companion gave me casual directions to Taizoin-en, which would have made leaving easy, but I was not able to follow them and spent an enormous amount of time trying to leave the temple complex. Finally got to the bus and decided to visit one more garden: Shinsen-en, a small urban garden connected to a shrine, with entertainment provided by fish and ducks competing for food thrown by visitors.

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April 18: Shopping and Anrakuji

I planned to go to three other gardens, but couldn’t find them. As I walked sort of aimlessly, trying to figure out where to go next, I passed a shop that sold some lovely scarves, aprons, which I don’t normally wear but these looked so nice, and yukatas. I bought  2 scarves, 2 aprons and a yukata for myself. Most of the other stuff will be for presents. At that point I returned to the hotel, not too far away, to get rid of my heavy package.

It was a very warm, sunny day, not the kind of weather I thrive in, so I hung out at the hotel for a couple of hours figuring out where to go next. Finally got back on the bus and went to Anrakuji, one of the few gardens I never visited on the eastern edge of Kyoto.

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This temple is actually at the foot of the mountains, requiring a walk from the bus stop. The temple looked closed and I was disappointed until I saw some other people open a door in the gate and walk in. So, I followed. I don’t know if any of us were supposed to be there, but we weren’t thrown out, and I was able to walk around as long as I wanted.

I am writing this on Friday evening, morning in the US, and just heard, on NPR, there was an earthquake near northern Japan. I never felt anything and don’t expect any consequences in this area, so don’t worry about me.