Tuesday, May 23, 2017

A Nursery Specializing in Azalea

Okay, the title of this entry may be a bit of a "come on" because I find I don't have many photos of azaleas for today.  However, the master here is known for his bonsai azaleas.

The first photograph is simply a lovely tree; the color is just superb.

Doesn't this one look like a giant bonsai?

I took the above picture because I really wanted the picture below.  Having the one above lets me know what the tree is doing all-slantwise sheltering a lovely white rhododendron.

 The tree below was put on its side and what became the uppermost branches were  wired to the side to form the bonsai you see below.  I find myself intrigued by the methods used to create art.

Okay, shadows intrigue me.  This is a tile with an abstract design of some "branches" in the middle.  Then the shadows of a real tree branch and some pine needles happen to fall just right on the tile.

David and David trying to figure out what to do with a tree.  The answer?  Bag the tree!

Shadows again - a super plant and its shadow.

Modes of transportation . . . 

Finally!  Azaleas. . . although not in bonsai form.

Pots and pots and pots and still more POTS!

Do you think I got carried away?  Well, you're right, but I will make it up to you with the flowers to follow, okay?

Oops, where'd these pots come from?

I'll make it up to you (again) with some lovely bonsai - including azaleas.

No azaleas here, but I love this photo, a great tree-over-rock with wood grain around it, and the windows with interesting divisions.

A worker's tools . . . .

A wonderful sink . . . .

Weighing pots?   Really?  Oh well, it's a neat scale.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Nikko's "Traditional" Hotel

Yesterday I was quite tired after working in the garden for the second day which is why I didn't post anything.  Today, I'm going to spend a little time writing about a hotel (and then on the town) which I haven't spent too much time on yet.  This hotel in Nikko was a "traditional" Japanese-style (as opposed to Western style).  That meant that it had all the amenities the Japanese visitor would appreciate: communal baths, ukatas (like a kimono but made of cotton and used as a bathrobe), bedrooms with sliding panels to separate private areas (bathroom, closets, etc.), and beds on the floor.

I took the first three photographs from inside the door to our "suite".  There was a step as one entered the suite and on the right there was a room for the toilet (more about that later) and on the left was a closet area.  Then I think there were two steps and on my left there was an alcove with a shelf and on the right was a shower/bath room.  Looking straight ahead, as you can see, there were tatami mats with two "mattresses"on the mat with pillows and covered duvets (there was an oval opening  to let the pretty comforter show through. As an aside, the beds were very comfortable.  Beyond that was a table at which the Japanese would kneel to eat or write or whatever else they would at a table.  Two chairs were provided for Westerners who sometimes have difficulty kneeling for any length of time, but they also have very short legs so they would work somewhat with the table.  There was a large window which gave amazing views of the mountains.

Here David is writing in his log (which I will mention again has been invaluable to me in writing this blog and keeping everything straight).

Looking from within the room to the entryway.

When we walked into this hotel, this display was in one of the foyer's window display units.   I just love it!

This bas relief was up near the ceiling of the two-story tall lobby.  When I took this picture, we were on a walkway from one building to another which were linked by the huge lobby below us and the second floor walkway.  While I do not have specific information, I believe it depicts two cranes rising toward the sun.   Whatever it is, it was massive and beautiful.

Below are three photos that you have to pretend are one long one.  The mountains actually overlap (more or less successfully and show you a panoramic view of the mountains from our room in the hotel.  And there are also glimpses of the town.

Because we were up early, David and I had time to take a walk and get at least a brief look at this area of Japan. We turned right as we left the hotel and found a long staircase leading to the Friendship bridge.  Bridges usually mean water (which I love) so I voted for going that way, and we did.  I am so very glad - the views down into the gorge where the "angry demon (kinuta in Japanese) river" from the bridge were spectacular.

This next one was taken through the handrails on the bridge making rather a nice frame.

Demons painted permanently on the walkway in the bridge.

These tiles depicting what each child/teen felt was the "essence" of this city/area (I think - remember, everything was in Japanese!).

And - here is the piece-de-resistance  - turning around to go back to the hotel, just look what was painted on the stairway.  Coming down the stairs, one has no idea this exists, but going up? WOW!  That's "kinuta"!

Just when you may have thought that was it for the art in this area:

Our hotel was on the left side of this stairway, and the above Art Wall (for lack of something better to call it) was on the right.

 I haven't forgotten about the promise to discuss the toilets.  It may merit an entire entry all its own which is why I haven't included it in this one.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Tosho-gu Shrine in Nikko

Craziness coupled with some weariness has kept me from my appointed entries, and I have been reprimanded by a faithful reader.  So here you are ME, another day of photographs from Japan. However, I must warn you that these pictures are from the afternoon after visiting the mountainous bonsai garden of the master Hasaka.  That's not the problem; these pictures were taken at the Tosho-gu Shrine in Nikko.  If my readers are like my fellow travelers, some of you are probably tired of shrines.  It's only to be expected; their interests lay primarily in bonsai, and they were getting eager for the big show which wouldn't open for another three days.

I can't remember where I saw this building with the terrific window, but I think it must have been near the ticket area for the Shrine.  Wherever it was taken, it's now a painting waiting to happen

 If you decide to skim through the following, I won't be offended (actually, I won't even know unless you email me).  For many of the photos that follow, I will merely give a brief blurb.  But here I will introduce that this shrine is all about.  First, some of the information comes from our tour guide, but a good deal of the specific functions of the buildings comes from the Eyewitness Travel Guide: Japan (quotations are from that book).  This shrine is the mausoleum of one of the earliest shoguns and was erected by his grandson.  Like any old wooden structure many of the buildings have be rebuilt and some more than once.  It is currently being restored, but as you will see, a lot of that work has already been finished.

This wonderful pagoda dated from 1650, but was rebuilt in the early 19th century.  What I have just learned (from the Eyewitness Travel Japan book) is that, "Each story represents an element - earth, water, fire, wind, and heaven in ascending order."

I do love the guardian spirit, and this one looks disapprovingly at the laughing ticket taker!

A bonsai tree that we saw earlier in our trip is being brought in for the display of top bonsai specimens.  This is no easy task!

Roof lines.  Need I say more?

This building is used as an occasional stable for the horse New Zealand donated to the site, however, it's the decoration you'll get the biggest kick out of.  I am showing you only one close-up of the monkeys that are doing something different in each of the 5 sections.

This is a sacred fountain for washing hands "with an ornate Chinese-style roof."

A library of Buddhist scriptures is behind one bonsai, and there is a second bonsai below (not the huge one you viewed in an earlier photo).

I admit I have dozens of photos the next structure, the Yomeimon Gate.  Every single surface, inside and out, ceilings, walls, roof, and exterior, is heavily and beautifully decorated.

 Tucked in among the roof "layers" is :
                  A man playing an instrument:

                   Men playing a board game and many more which I didn't include.

The painting on the ceiling inside the of the Gate.

Oops, more men - these two are riding a dragon (on the left) and a fish (on the right).

Incredible decorations from top to bottom.

When you pass through and turn around to look back at the Gate, you can see that restoration is still being done on it.  On this side, one of the columns is deliberately upside down - to avoid offending or tempting the gods to wreak havoc on something too perfect.  Sound familiar?

Behind one building is quite an amazing wall.


Here is a sleeping cat above a doorway.

Sometimes, saki (that's what is in the round containers) is given as a donation to the Shrine instead of money.  Looks like they might have enough.

A beautiful golden peony  . . .

And where I found it:

 To give you a sense of the size of the cedars all around the shrine, I asked David to stand in front of the trunk of this one.  The cedar avenue that leads to the shrine was planted in the 17th century as a donation to the shrine.

 And I'll leave you with a rather scary elephant: