Soon I will be in Japan! I look forward to the sensations and inspiration travel brings. Since I was a girl, I was curious about Japan, mainly because of the shape of the country, and the small islands.
I usually research my destinations before I travel. Not only does it help me plan, but I have some background knowledge to help understand the people and culture. Learning all that I can is important to me because I will know what to say and do. Although, I reserve all expectations!
I found out that in Tokyo there is a garden called Rikugien, which means Garden of the Six Principles of Waka , meaning ‘Japanese Poem’. Waka is a type of poetry in Japanese Literature which has six elements.
The most widely-composed type of Waka throughout history is Tanka. After googling it, I found this definition:
‘The Tanka poem is very similar to haiku but Tanka poems have more syllables and it uses simile, metaphor and personification. There are five lines in a Tanka poem.
Tanka poems are written about nature, seasons, love, sadness and other strong emotions. This form of poetry dates back almost 1200 years ago.‘ An example can be found here.
Furthermore, I was interested to read about the ‘poetic culture’.
In ancient times, it was a custom between two writers to exchange waka instead of letters in prose. In particular, it was common between lovers. Reflecting this custom, five of the twenty volumes of the Kokin Wakashū gathered waka for love.
In the Heian period the lovers would exchange waka in the morning when lovers met at the woman’s home. Read more on Wiki here.
The park was built between 1695 and 1702 with permission by the fifth shogun of the Tokugawa dynasty of Japan. After his death, the park was neglected and was restored again in 1878. According to what I read, it’s a place of ‘scenic beauty’.
I would like to take some time to enjoy the gardens, and perhaps sense the poetry of the place.
I read that there are a number of dramatic bridges and a leaf viewing forest in the garden, one of which was inspired by a Waka poem..
‘One if the bridges, Togetsukyo was inspired by a Waka poem about the moon moving across the sky as a crane cries in a nearby rice paddy.
The bridge is made up of two large stone slabs that are laid parallel to each other. Read more on the tour here.’
Before my research on the garden, it was unclear whether it was built based on the forms of waka or if the garden influenced the forms of poetry. I read on to find out that famous waka poems were the source of much of the design of the garden’s landscapes and features. It’s incredible to know that poetry can be the source for recreating such beauty.
It seems that Japan is a great source of inspiration for writers! I may also go on a day trip to Kamakura, a city that a writer friend recommended.
I’m told that it attracted a huge number of writers and Japanese creatives in the past, and that many literary figures have made it their home.
My friend tells me there are hills, forests, temples, shrines and beach. It’s also close to a small island, sitting off the main coastline, Enoshima, connected by a short bridge. I will also go to Horishima, and spend one night there. It’s terrifying to read about World War II and the atom bombing (1939–1945). To read more click here.
There was once a garden on the Berger Strasse, a street in Frankfurt where I once lived, which was an inspiration for my poetry. It was when I started to write and publish so abundantly. The words flowed so freely and easily. There was no right or wrong, no rules, just enjoying the surroundings as I wrote. Much like a witness to beauty, with a camera to take photos. As I took the photos, it felt like I was seeing for the first time, like I was focusing in more on the details, enhancing the beauty of the object.
Looking back, I think that the contract between the walk there, the shops, cafes, and people, and the tranquility of the garden, was what moved me to write.
Upon my return from my trip to Japan, I might post some photos of my travels.
Have you been to Japan? As always, I look forward to your comments.
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