First Walk.

To travel twenty-four hours with little sleep makes a person dead-tired. I may even have been asleep before my body touched the mattress. The night’s sleep was an expedition to abyssal depths of slumber. There were occasional ascents to consciousness, followed immediately by descents back to the darkness. When the first light of a rainy morning came, crow caws announced the impending day. So did the voices of two active grandsons.

Our family soon left for work, and for school. Christine was tired and still needed rest. I needed to walk, I needed air, and to move my body, and to see where I was, and to look around. It was raining, but no matter.

The Japanese have a word for rain. Which is written most aptly.

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So. I set off to walk and to look a lot. I’ll be seeing without a lot of knowing, without names for much of what I see. It will have to do. I stepped out the door, opened the umbrella, and went…

Topiary is everywhere to be seen. Many houses have trees being carefully trained to have a large branch over the entry gate. Maybe I’ll learn why someday.

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Look at the metalwork that fills the slot in the boundary wall.

So much steepness. Slopes are carefully reinforced to try to keep hills in place. I hear they have earthquakes here.


At my feet is an access plate cover, a “manhole”, done up with enamels, cloisonné style, with an impossibly cute firefighter, standing in front of the fire truck, hose nozzle in hand.


I have since learned that manhole and drain covers are an art form here. The subset of people who are into these castings are called “Drainspotters”. This style, is called “Kawaii”. Kawaii means “cute”, and I have a feeling that “cute” in Japan has depths that I am not even scratching the surface of.

Rows of houses extend here and there and everywhere.

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A person in a purple (!) rainsuit whizzes by on a scooter, the color complements the center stripe of the roadway.


Retaining walls step back and back and back from the roadside. Why the diagonal assembly? Is it more stable when the earth moves?

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I pass through a playground, see a small sign and a narrow pathway that goes off into the rising ground. My nose says to go that way, and I do. I start meeting plants, who are full of spring. Buds are bursting open. I have no names for what I’m seeing, but the taste of spring, weeks ahead of where spring is back home, is exhilarating.

I’m not yet going to write about what happened to me in the next hour or so. But where I went, and what I saw, felt like a very deep and personal encounter with this place I have never been too.  A friend, far wiser and more knowledgeable about this place than I, has helped me to understand a little about where I was and what it might mean. I might or might not write more about this. We shall see.

I emerged from the woods to find a curvy road overlooking town. When I saw these rows of hedged shrubs I wondered, “Tea?”. A closer look said “Azalea”. I won’t be here to see the buds open, but just imagine what a colorful impact their blossoms must make on the landscape.


More topiary. I know there’s a better name for this. What a different sense of scale this work imparts to the domestic scene. That tree speaks of decades of patient, carefully timed and executed labor.


What a friend tells me about these trees:  “Those niwaki-cut evergreens are tended by masters – on contract – who come and go without any by-your-leave from the homeowner…and they seem to claim ‘territories’ – you can see that in some neighborhoods the style will change a bit.”

Ah me. Pale blue house.

With beautiful blue roof tiles.

In the rain. Ame.


On I went, through park and playground, there were so many textural contrasts in this old tennis court.

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Back on the street, I headed home.


How old are these????


Another gate, another branch. This branch is in training.


Here’s a hedge of something I know! Camellia japonica. With plum blossoming in the background.

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Camellian close-up.


There is much to see.

And there is so much there here.

There is everywhere.



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