Japan day 11
Japan day 11
Takamatsu 0 km
Forty years ago, I was studying for an MA at Lancaster University, living amongst an international crowd of postgraduate students. We knitted very well together as a motley group of personalities, and one of those friendships was to endure and be revisited here in Takamatsu. Akihiro has spent most of his professional career teaching at Kagawa University and now, in retirement, he has moved to a smaller private university. (Many professionals like Akihiro have to continue working into their 70s because pensions are insufficient to meet living costs in Japan). Out of respect for privacy, no photos are included here, but Akihiro and Sachiko (his wife) have spoilt me something terrible, made too much of a fuss of me, have fed me with richest offerings of the land…..in short, it has been very sad saying goodbye to them. And like most Japanese people, they think I am totally mad cycling the length of their country…..and to think (they say) I will be finishing in Hokkaido where, even in April, it will still be bitterly cold…….(now they tell me!). Oh well, maybe I’ll find myself sleeping inside temples and shrines (instead of in their gardens), pleading with Buddha to take pity on me.
For much of the morning Takamatsu was bathed in warm spring sunshine……
and Akihiro took me to one of the three most famous traditional gardens in Japan: Ritsurin Garden, where the cherry blossom was bursting out in all directions…
…and people were beginning to celebrate their annual ‘hanami’ picnics beneath the cherry blossom. For the ten days the trees are in full flower, people just have a big party all over Japan,
which starts in late March in the south, and finishes in late May in the north…..such is the difference in climate between north and south.
A brochure describes the Ritsurin Garden as “a superb cultural asset that conveys the characteristic of the daimyo strolling gardens of the 17th-18th centuries…”. The daimyos were the great power lords who served under the Shoguns of that period, and they demonstrated their wealth by creating these fine gardens.
And one of the many “assets” of such gardens is the Tea House where you can sample the serving of the ceremonial tea…..a small sweet delicacy served with green tea, sitting cross-legged on tatami matting, overlooking the lake where wasen boat rides take place.
A day of friendship and relaxation will be, tomorrow, followed by a day of two ferry boat rides, and a 30 km crossing of Shodoshima Island……and back to the principal island of Honshu.
Then it’s back to the day job…… 🙂