some gardens in Kyoto

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


cracks, creases

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nooks, ledges


dips, depositsDSC00778s DSC00790s


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