Sunday, May 9, 2010

Seattle Japanese Garden

Friday afternoon we first stopped at the Washington Park Arboretum before seeing the Japanese Garden. Over time the variety of understory plants has decreased and native plants have been dying off. The Arboretum has consequently, since 2001, been undergoing forest habitat restoration. Invasive plants are being removed and replaced with a variety of plants that would have been in the park site before it was logged. Since it was getting late in the afternoon we only spent time walking on the Azalea Way, which is absolutely stunning at this time of the year.
 The Japanese Garden represents a compressed world of mountains, forests, lakes, river, and a village. There is a lot of symbolism here which totally escaped me because I was just so taken with the beauty of the flowers, shrubs and trees. Below is a picture of the entrance to the garden. Lanterns, as the one below, are present everywhere in the garden.
 In March of 1960 Mr. Lida came from Japan to supervise construction of the garden.  He arranged thousands of plants selected to represent diverse scenes found in Japan. They included azaleas, rhododendrons, camellias,  evergreens,  flowering fruit trees,  mosses and ferns. We could not have chosen a better time to be there as so many of those plants flower in the spring.
The garden is popular for its Chado- or The Way of Tea.  Public tea ceremonies can be scheduled here. The history of tea underwent many changes until 16th century teamaster Sen Rikyu defined its principles of harmony, respect, purity and tranquility. Also, acording to the park's brochure, his tea "is the essence of detachment and simplicity, expressed through a humble and egalitarian communion of the human spirit".  And that is exactly the feeling which I received walking through the garden, a feeling of peace and harmony.

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