rocks extend a narrow ledge
mimcry between the plant add-ons and the concrete-based-sclptures
where I would have expected a field of grass, was rice
a whole fascade made of living plants, conglomerate one on top of another
flat walls and smooth poles extended with wire-coathanger holders, hooks, coiling pots
Over April 2016 I visited Kyoto at least three days a week, to train Aikido. During the day I wandered around, intoxicated by the matcha-green spring, the neatly raked stone gardens, the wabi-sabi huts, the moss-interspersed stone pavements and the blooming rhododendrones. Slowly, in-between the ‘destinations’, I started to notice another kind of garden: a kind not mentioned in tourist guides nor philosophy books. Nonetheless, in my zen-infused gaze, they extruded the same kind of care as those where I paid an entrance fee to: lovingly maintained with nuanced details. Even better, if I looked into the details, I could start to read quirky, individual stories of the human beings who look after them. While their surroundings had not been constructed by master carpenters, nor are they made with the finest materials (most often rubbles), they transmitted a frugal richness, that resonated with the poetry of Santoka:
The bagworm too dripping spring has come yes
Minomushi mo shizuku suru haru ga kita zo na
For me, art is a way of seeing, of appreciating, of caring. Beauty is not only those framed within white walls. It is a lens. Simply being alive and aware is enough to do this. Some of my favourite pieces of art are poetry written by people who lived with very little materially. Their works exalted the richness of nothing, frugal appreciation.
Such delicious water overflowing
Konnani umai mizu ga afureteiru
While it is true that nowadays, the famous zen gardens and Buddhist temples are run as commercial enterprises, the state of mind they transmit, of nuanced appreciation, does not require money nor status to practice.
I roll on my back and there’s the blue sky
Korori nekorobeba aozora
Satoka poems from https://terebess.hu/english/haiku/taneda.html
In A pattern language: towns, buildings, construction (1977), Alexander, Ishikawa, Silverstein et al., wrote of the car connection:
The process of arriving in a house, and leaving it, is fundamental to our daily lives; and very often it involves a car. But the place where cars connect to houses, far from being important and beautiful, is often off to one side and neglected.
Place the parking place for the car and the main entrance, in such a relation to each other, that the shortest route from the parked car into the house, both to the kitchen and to the living rooms, is always through the main entrance. Make the parking place for the car into an actual room which makes a positive and graceful place where the car stands, not just a gap in the terrain.
However, not everyone has the chance to design a house and where their car would dwell from scratch. Instead, there is a plethora of small modifications to existing infrastructure, to aid the process of arriving and leaving a house. Here is a selection from Kyoto, April 2016.
Mirrors for seeing from multiple angles simultaneously
reflectors to ease tricky corners
gardens, edges for other life forms
handmade screen protects blooming freesias on the end of a public parking lot
sand and grass garden with an exquisite selection of plants: iris, rose, pine, camelia, mistletoe
a pleasant outdoor room made by grape vines
bonsai garden on the edge of a parking space, makes a wonderful alley to walk through too
In a carpark for the surrounding residents, a shed-ecosystem-homes made of old bamboo ladders, treasured scraps, living plants and creatures. During my repeated visits, I was fortunate to have met its human companion/caretaker, who told me that the ladders were discarded from his workplace. He liked to collect different kinds of wood for their fragrance, and even gave me a small bottle of a particularly good-smelling kind, carefully made into shavings.
Another morning when I walked by, the whole family was engaged in a kind of careful excavasion of one of the piles, due to complaints from the neighbour that it was fostering mosquitos. Under rotting woodboards, we uncovered eggs of geckos, which hunt the mosquitos. (I was gifted some.)
The whole structure was joined without nails or screws, only through a twisting of wire (of various thickness, including telephone wire) which join short pieces of wood sticks together, in a piecemeal construction/growth.
Here, string, wire, roots, branches, plants alive present and past, entangle together in a porous co-existence.