Write Anywhere #79: Japanese Friendship Garden


by Kristin Nador/@KristinNador

Walking and I have been having an epic struggle lately.

I enjoy walks outside. A stroll around the neighborhood, a paced walk around a track for some intentional sweating, or a gentle hike in the woods all suit me fine.

My foot and ankle haven’t agreed with that assessment at all. They protest in pain, refusing to participate in the simplest activities. Foot and Ankle were forced into an intervention with a podiatrist, and now after some painful injections and custom orthotics, foot is about 85% better. Ankle is still questionable, with MRI results pending, but much better than before.

I’ve gotten to the point where I can take very short walks without aggravating the healing process. We have nice sidewalks in our apartment complex, but once you’ve walked around a building a few times, it’s time for more interesting views. I found the perfect spot for gentle walking just a few minutes drive away, and discovered it helped coax some gentle writing out of me as well. 

Write Anywhere #79: Japanese Friendship Garden

Yuko-En on the Elkhorn Japanese Friendship Garden, Georgetown, Kentucky photo by kristin nador

Yuko-En on the Elkhorn Japanese Friendship Garden, Georgetown, Kentucky

Yuko-En on the Elkhorn is a Japanese garden in Georgetown, Kentucky, built with donations from the areas largest employer, Toyota Corporation and other local businesses to promote cultural understanding and friendship. At five acres, it is one of the largest Japanese gardens in the U.S. It’s situated on the site of a former monastery, and when you enter its gates, it maintains a peaceful, spiritual feeling.

Gates, Yuko-En on the Elkhorn Japanese Friendship Garden, Georgetown, Kentucky photo by kristin nador

The gravel paths wind through gradual slopes with a canopy of trees, creating a tranquil cocoon.

Maho-An Tea House, Yuko-En on the Elkhorn Japanese Friendship Garden, Georgetown, Kentucky photo by kristin nador

Maho-An Tea House

I followed the path to a bridge that crossed a dry creek bed spotted with round stones. Natural but deliberate.

Arched bridge, Yuko-En on the Elkhorn Japanese Friendship Garden, Georgetown, Kentucky photo by kristin nador

The bridge leads to the educational building, where they offer talks about Japanese culture and traditional tea ceremonies. And right around the corner is a Zen rock garden.

Zen Buddhist Rock Garden, Yuko-En on the Elkhorn Japanese Friendship Garden, Georgetown, Kentucky photo by kristin nador

zen rock garden

Zen landscape gardens using rock, stone, and landscaping techniques began with the advent of Zen Buddhism in Japan in AD 552. I like the geometric designs in the pebbles.

The path moves around the pond, where the cattails bend in the breeze, and purple lotus flowers glow on the surface of the murky pond. The air felt good in my lungs. My foot and ankle are silent today.

cattails and lotus on pond, Yuko-En on the Elkhorn, Georgetown, Kentucky photo by kristin nador

I paused at a stone bench as I headed up a slope near the hermit’s hut. Not a soul in the garden but me. I imagined being in the hut, solitude enveloping me. Alone with my thoughts, saying prayers and listening for answers, writing by lantern light in big ink strokes on long strips of delicate rice paper.

Hermit hut, Yuko-En on the Elkhorn, Georgetown, Kentucky photo by kristin nador

hermit hut

Of course, that is in my imagination. Reality: I pull my Moleskine notebook and Bic pen out of my pocket, and I write a list of all the words the garden inspires. I pray, whisper some scriptures. Then I end the path where I started, with a snow lantern pointing the way towards the wooden gates.

Tahara Yukimi Gata, Snow Lantern, Yuko_En on the Elkhorn Japanese Friendship Garden, Georgetown, Kentucky photo by kristin nador

Tahara Yukimi Gata, Tahara Snow Lantern

Once I got home, I took my word list and decided to try my hand at some haiku, an appropriate form of expression for the beautiful Japanese garden I had just experienced. Here are my humble attempts:

footsteps on pebbles
crunch beneath blue ash branches
a pathway to prayer

awake lotus bud
royal petals open wide
welcome morning sun

garden tea house stands
gentle shrine of solitude
silent memories

bamboo sways slowly
two shiny black eyes emerge
amusing chipmunk

Poetry is not my strong suit, but it’s always good practice to try out different writing forms.
If you’d like to be inspired by haiku, poetry, or introspective memoir, I recommend these great blogs:
Author Jan Morrill’s Life: Haiku by Haiku
Poet T.L. Cooper’s Write with TLC
Author Linda Austin’s moonbridgebooks
The walk in the garden helped me exercise my mind, body, and soul. I’ll be back often.

Join in the fun! Find a place that inspires you. Maybe your home or maybe somewhere else. Write a haiku or poem about it. Post to your blog and share the link in the comments, or post it directly in the comments.

Write Anywhere!

7 thoughts on “Write Anywhere #79: Japanese Friendship Garden

  1. Kristin,
    First, thank you so much for the link to my blog! 🙂
    Second, a picture you posted a couple of weeks ago of your visit to the Japanese garden inspired me to search for a Japanese garden in Portland, Oregon and to go there last weekend. It was such a delightful experience!
    I have now decided my next trip to Kentucky must include a visit to the Japanese Garden in Georgetown. It just MUST!! 🙂
    Love your haiku!

    Like

  2. Oh, my, Kristin! Now I will have to visit Georgetown, Kentucky – not too far away. I think we in St. Louis have the largest Japanese garden in the US, and what a delight it is. Thank you for posting these beautiful photos. Your haiku are beautiful – and they are true haiku, with one “cutting” line that brings a second, but related, image. Congratulations! Thank you for mentioning me, too.

    Like

  3. Pingback: Write Anywhere #81: Weekend Wanderings | kristin nador writes anywhere

Share Your Thoughts Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s