This evening, hubby and I very much enjoyed our walk through the arboretum. If you put me in nature with a camera, especially when flowers are blooming, I will be more than content… until I get hungry.Hubby particularly enjoyed finding all of the hidden painted rocks in the vicinity. They were, indeed, rather cute.
As we were making our rounds to make sure we had found every last one of the stones, we sat down by the fountain. I had recently learned a little about kintsugi and Japanese art in general. (Kintsugi is a method of mending broken pottery where the pieces are put back together with gold, silver, or platinum lacquer, making the damage part of the object’s history rather than disguising it.)
Looking at the fountain, I thought about what I had learned and ended up wishing that the rest of the arboretum had taken the nod from the Japanese section of the arboretum. The Japanese part looked much more harmonious.
Instead of putting down mulch to suppress the growth of unwanted plants and visually asserting dominance over the natural order, the Japanese design just had the various types of plants grow side by side, fully fulling in the entire area. Thus, the Japanese design looked comparatively organic. Even with the fountain, it was unobtrusive and didn’t look like a testament to the triumph of man. Rather, it showed balance with the natural world.
While I don’t see a problem with finding mulch to be less than pleasing to the eye, I quickly realized that I have become quite cynical and, perhaps, overly critical of American values in general.While studying French in high school, I never got as wrapped up in French culture as I have been with Japanese culture over the past few weeks. Part of it is that Japanese culture feels more foreign than French culture. However, the main reason is that I was more critical of French culture than I have been of Japanese culture.
For instance, my reaction to the French Revolution compared to the head collecting practices of samurai warriors just doesn’t match up.
When you are learning about Japan, it is easy to fall into the trap of skimming the surface of an idea and romanticizing it. Sure, it’s easy to love manga and anime, think the art is beautiful, love the architecture, find the folklore fascinating, etc. But you can’t separate all that from the political history of Japan.
As far as current political issues go in Japan, here’s what I’m aware of:
- Overworking (karoshi) and high suicide rates in general
- A syphilis epidemic that led the government to make Sailor Moon condoms
Yes, I will expose myself as woefully ignorant. (Typical American, eh?) But I have plans to change that and, of course, I will share my discoveries with all of you.