Thursday, June 7, 2012

Postcards from Japan: Meigetsu-in

Favorite Things

My days here in Japan are winding down. The pack-out dates have been set. The tickets back to the states have been purchased. Borrowing from Shakespeare – parting will be such bitter sweet sorrow.

The Sweet: I cannot wait to return to the states. I miss our family. I miss our friends. I miss our dog. After three years of living overseas I have a heightened awareness of what makes me sooooo American, the good and the bad.
The Bitter: It will be hard to say good-bye to this amazing country, I’ve learned so much living here in Japan. Learned to stop and pay even more attention to the details. Learned to appreciate that less is truly more. I hope that I have also gained a deeper appreciation for all that is Japan – the ‘Wa’ – the essence of Japan.

Yesterday marked one of the first of many “lasts” for me to come – a friend and I had blocked out our calendars for a shopping trip to Kamakura. Not on the schedule was a visit to see hydrangeas but when I mentioned that perhaps we could start off the day with a “swing-by” trip to one of the temples in the Kamakura area known for beautiful hydrangeas she graciously agreed. This is one of the things I love about living here, the Japanese appreciate, embrace and celebrate the beauty of nature. Where else would you find hundreds of people – enough to warrant policemen in the streets directing traffic – all walking towards the same destination, to be wowed by blossoms? Only in Japan.

Meigetsuin – Ajisai-dera a.k.a the Hydrangea Temple

Located in Kita-Kamakura, Meigetsuin is a short 10-minute walk from the train station. It is not hard to miss, just follow the masses because at this time of year with over 2000 hydrangea plants lining it’s pathways and grounds it is the place to be for seeing these beautiful plate sized blossoms.

Zen Garden, Bamboo forest, hydrangeas lining well worn old stone pathways, a small stream with a waterfall and another hidden garden for my friend and I to discover which is only open for as long as the Irises are blooming – this temple has it all.

The hydrangea blossom with its many petals is a symbol of expressing love, gratitude and enlightenment. It is said that the observer can get lost in the abundance of petals and thus lost in one’s own thoughts – propitiating higher thought and reaching enlightenment.

I have less than three weeks left here and will be trying in between the purging, organizing, and all else that encompasses moving a family of five overseas, to enjoy my final days in this country that has offered me so much. Revisiting some of my favorites and sharing my final adventures as I get outside these gates for the last time. Look for more posts to come, hoping to pass along all that I love about living in Japan and hoping the next one that follows in my footsteps will see the beauty and of course the inspiration that surrounds you in the land of the rising sun.

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