05 October, 2020

Big historically significant park in Yokohama

We had online conference meetings for our mission from Tuesday to Thursday last week. Usually an in-person conference is five days long and very social. Online is much harder, so our leaders urged us to spend time with missionaries who live closer to us on the days surrounding the online meetings. In that spirit, we had lunch with another family with teens last Sunday (27th) and then last Friday (2nd) I met two colleagues for a day at a park in Yokohama. 

At the end of a week of being stuck to screens, of straining to connect with others in a large group, connecting really fast in small groups, and processing all the other information being given to us, it was a relief to get outside and hang out in nature. Even the train trip was good. Yokohama is a fair way from us, but from our local station we can catch a direct train there. It takes a bit over an hour, but I got a seat at the very start, so it wasn't a hard journey. At the end of the day I had usual end-of-week fatigue, but a whole day of nature and talking for several hours in-person had rejuvenated my soul.

I didn't get to blog about it last week, though. I spent Saturday catching up on some urgent things I didn't get done on Friday and Sunday catching up on rest. So today, I'm catching up on the less urgent things, including this. Here are some photos, with commentary. This is a fascinating park! I love history, and this park has a few centuries of history attached to it. I'm thankful that there were lots of signs around explaining elements of the park, and they were all bilingual.

This park used to be, as many of these old parks were, a private property. It has about 20 buildings, many of which were brought to the park in the early 1900s by the then-owner of the park, Sankei, a successful Yokohama businessman (silk). Many of the buildings come from the Kansai area (around Nara/Kyoto). Though it used to be the family's private property, the "outer garden" was opened to the public for free from 1906 (we had to pay!).

This is the "Main Pond". Intuitively named! It is the first feature of the park that you come across when you come through the main entrance. Note the red spider lily flowers, late-summer early-autumn flowers that we're seeing a lot of at the moment.
A small bamboo "arbour" that was unlabelled.
This is the only building that we were allowed inside. It was designed for farmers, but is grander than what most farmers lived in.  It was large, but very dark and dusty inside this building. Not the warmest place to live in winter either!  
Pictured is part of an autumn-moon-viewing tradition, the purpose is to give thanks to the gods for a harvest (as best as I understand it).
This is the front of the same building. I'm not sure what was stored in the ceiling.
This fire is kept burning all day long. It was very smoky. I find it hard to imagine living in this house: with the smoke, dust, and draftiness!
This bridge had unusual "railings". Many of the structures in the park were damaged in the 1923 earthquake, rebuilt, then damaged again during WW2. Additionally, they've struggled with the flora. Several thousand plum trees were planted at one point, and destroyed by wind. Not to mention the proximity to the ocean, so salinity has also been an issue. It's quite remarkable how much work has gone into this park and understandable that it has been named an official cultural asset. The family gave the park to a foundation for its management and it was opened for the public again in 1958, this time the "inner garden" was also opened.
A bridge with a covered place to rest halfway across.
One of several water features.
This was our lunch view! Serene.
Beautifully manicured banks of the Main Pond.
This building was built in the mid-1500s at a temple in Kyoto, the same temple as the
three-story pagoda that you'll see if you stick with this blog post! This building housed
a Buddha statue. It was damaged by a typhoon after WW2 and disassembled.
In 1987 it was relocated to this garden. It is listed as an Important National Cultural Property. 
From under a wisteria trelllis, we spied a couple having pre-wedding photos taken.
And later we saw another couple doing the same thing (pre-wedding photos).
Cute gateway into the "inner" garden, where the family used to live in the early 1900s. Pictured are the two colleagues I spent the day with.
The garden is in a shallow valley, somehow all the noise from the nearby expressways, heavy industry, and closely built residential areas didn't penetrate the garden. The signs promised a view here, but though we could see the ocean, the foreground overwhelmed it. One of the original buildings on the property was built on this high vantage point (1887), presumably because of the seaside views at the time!
Lots of water features and bridges, as is typical in a Japanese garden.
This wooden pagoda was originally constructed in 1457 and moved to the garden from an 
abandoned temple in Kyoto in 1914. 
This little building fascinated me. It was moved to the garden in 1905, but was
originally build by a feudal lord (son of the first shogunate of the Edo period,
Ieyasu Tokugawa). It contains a stone monument to wish for his mother's
health and long life. In the foreground you can see thick moss.
It wasn't easy to take this photo. I discovered the dragonfly next to my leg and
tried not to move suddenly to startle it. I love seeing these insects.
In the Main Pond, they've anchored this wooden boat that the birds were enjoying. In the foreground you can see a big spot light. There were a number around. As the gardens shut by 5pm, I can only imagine these are for special nighttime events (the gardens can be hired for private events).
At this time of year there weren't many flowers around, but red spider lilies 
(and these rarer white versions) were looking brilliant. I love how they
randomly appear in the least likely places.

Well done for sticking around to the end of this post! A bit lengthy. But I enjoy the discipline of looking up some of the history to go with my photos when I do get to visit these historical sites in Japan. This nation has many many centuries of history. Of which I know only a tiny smidgen and have no hope of learning a large chunk. However, little tidbits every now and then is fascinating and gives a little more insight into this place I've lived most of my adult life.

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