My Japanese Nata (鉈) – pride, joy and pain

Japanese gardeners and craftsmen take special pride in (and extra care of) their tools - and I begin to understand why.

Back in San Francisco – Continuing my Japanese training (self-conducted)

I have returned safely to San Francisco and settled back in to my so-called normal life. To continue my Japanese garden training here, I volunteer at the Hakone Gardens in Saratoga, the oldest Japanese garden & estate in the western hemisphere.

Day 89 – Kyoto has a new garden

The last day of my trip. On Sunday night we finished the tsuboniwa at the Mamezen Ramen shop in Kyoto (豆禅). I woke up early this morning to take some pictures of the garden - here is one of them, there are more to come:   Mamezen owner and Yuba-Ramen chef Minoru Yonekawa:   The … Continue reading Day 89 – Kyoto has a new garden

Day 38 – The cutest bamboo fence I have ever seen – Yotsumegaki (よツ目垣)

Everything in Japan has a kawaii version, I guess. This is a miniature version of the popular Yotsume-gaki bamboo fence and it is used to mark a water faucet. I have to add this to our Real Japanese garden e-Book about bamboo fences.

Day 25 – Planting moss and the mountains of Kyoto

After a day of working in heavy rain, a colleague and I climbed up the mountain behind the temple, just above the tea houses Kasa-tei (傘亭) and Shigure-tei (時雨亭). Kasa means umbrella and shigure means drizzle or autumn rain and is written with the kanji for "time" and "rain". Very poetic, I find. Both tea … Continue reading Day 25 – Planting moss and the mountains of Kyoto

Day 26 – Building a itabei

The head gardener and I built the frame for a wooden fence (itabei - 板塀) in a restaurant. The existing dobei (土塀), the traditional earthen wall has gotten weak and is crumbling, which gives us a great view into the construction of it. A frame is built with wooden posts and a grid of slices … Continue reading Day 26 – Building a itabei