At the beginning of this week Laurie and I went to the World Heritage town of Shirakawa Mura in Gifu Prefecture north of Nagoya. Laurie had stayed there 39 years ago, when three of his students at that time took him there. I was delighted to be able to visit this village while the snow was still quite deep even though it is early spring.
Shirakawa is sited on a narrow river plain in a steep sided valley and...
...is famous for its many, Gassho Zukuri-style, traditional farm houses with very steep thatched roofs.
The snow had begun to melt and there was the sound of running water everywhere.
We were able to stay in the same guesthouse where Laurie had stayed in 1978.
This is the large central room with its open hearth fire place. Breakfast has been laid out for the guests.
I was quite fascinated by this sight. The snow has melted around all the trees on the steep hillside.
On Thursday, Nagoya castle seemed to float above the first cherry blossoms, where some people were celebrating O Hanami.
Here, a cascading branch hangs down into the moat.
The castle and palace buildings were destroyed in bombing raids in 1945. The castle was rebuilt in concrete in 1959. Starting in 2009 a major project was begun to reproduce the palace as it was in 1634. The same materials and techniques that were used at that time are being employed.
Many of the original room dividing screens and decorative panels had been removed and safely stored during the war. Also there was extensive photographic documentation of the building. This has been invaluable to the skilled crafts people for their meticulous reproductions.
When we were in Japan in 2011 we were able to view the building in its early stages from the outside within a huge construction shed. On this visit we were able to walk though two completed sections. We were amazed at the opulent beauty and grandure of this still incomplete project.
On Friday, in spite of rain, we visited Atsuta Jingu, one of the three most important Shinto Shrines in Japan. It is believed to have been established during the rein of the Emperor Keiko (71 - 130 CE).
This photo shows the buildings of the inner shrine which have been renovated since I first saw them in 1992.
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During the last week I have had two opportunities to create some ikebana.
This first, freestanding work, is made from last year's flower stems of some Yucca plants. I have used seven stems in all and was delighted that they looked like a miniature winter forrest .
Here you can see that they are sitting on a high shelf in our friends' house in Onjuku.
This second, early spring arrangement is of 'roadside gathered' materials. I made it in the house of friends near Nagoya.
Greetings from Christopher
2nd April 2017