Autumn (Tokyo Studio)

Shuubun: Beetles wall up their burrows/ azuki beans ripen (4 of 5)

October 3rd, 2008

Shuubun 9 of 15Today we had one of those glorious autumn days that people kept telling me about since our arrival. We went on an expedition to Kitanomaru National Garden, across the way from the East Gardens of the Imperial Palace in Chiyoda-ku. The park houses the National Musuem of Modern Art, the National Achives, the National Craft Gallery, the Science Museum and the Nippon Budo-kan.

Generally when you look at a map and see a patch of green, you would assume that it is a park, and perhaps you would have certain expectations of what a park is. In Tokyo, you could never really quite tell how the patch of green on the map would materialise in reality. Kitanomaru is beautiful. There are established trees and plants, rambling walkways, seats and shelters, waterways, bridges, and a lovely expanse of grass – a perfect place to have a stroll and lie down on a perfect autumn day.

3 Responses to “Shuubun: Beetles wall up their burrows/ azuki beans ripen (4 of 5)”

  1. 1 Lucas in Petersham
    October 4th, 2008 at 6:46 pm

    this makes me think about the term “japanese garden”.

    In other places in the world, a “japanese garden” means a specific thing – a special garden, a “gourmet” garden even, one which is contemplative and has a little stream and a tiny bridge and some koi maybe and one of those rock things which get raked.

    There’s also “french bread” and “portuguese tarts” and “spanish omelette” and “english muffins”…

    What sense does it make, in their own countries, to call these items by such national names ?

    So… What do they call (what we understand to be) a “Japanese Garden” in Japan?

  2. 2 jolaw
    October 4th, 2008 at 9:40 pm

    Now that I think about it more… there are generally 2 terms used to describe the green patches on the map: koen and gyoen. From interpreting the kanji, I think the former means a kind of public garden or public park, whereas the latter implies a more elaborate designed kind of garden of a certain scales, with pagondas, ponds, streams and the like. But unfortunately, the translations of the locations are not always consistent. Sometimes it is simply called ‘park’ like Shinjuku Central Park. (And there is niwa – more like a small courtyard in reality, although I have seen many elborate ones).

    As far as things ‘Japanese’, the language does have a prefix that denote apanses as opposed to ‘Western’. During the Meiji peroidd follwing restroation Japan embraced the West and all things from the West. So the word ‘wa’ 和 started to be used to mean Japanese… like wagashi means Japanese sweets/ confectionary or washi – Japanese paper. ‘Nihon’ (Japan) is sometimes used like ‘Nihonshoku’ – Japanese food. My Lonely Planet food guide (?) has Nihonteien as Japanese garden. So the distnction is actually necessary – you would probably order an English muffin in England…?

  3. 3 jolaw
    October 5th, 2008 at 10:02 pm

    I was thinking more about this. In Chinese (Cantonese), something from the west ususally has the prefix of ‘yeung’ 洋(ocean – as in from across the ocean) or ‘sai’ 西 (west). E.g. the literal transiation of broccoli in Cantonese is called ‘western orchid’; western-style house is ‘yeung fong’. The not-so-complimentary term of ‘guai-lo’ (slang for foreigner – ususally from the West) used to be ‘yeung guai zhi’ – being ‘ghost-like person from across the ocean’.