Spreading the charms of Japan to the world from Fukui




"Zen: Suggestion for a simple life" written by Shunmyo Masuno



Today, I would like to introduce the book that I always have at hand and am reading again and again. Its author, Shumyo Masuno is a chief priest of a Zen temple Kenkoji and Japan's leading landscape garden designer.


The reason that Masuno is a Zen priest and also started creating gardens is that once Zen monks were going to replace mind attained through practices something, and one of them were gardens. For example, those who liked a flat surface drew ink paintings.


Masuno says, "Gardens are made of natural materials, so they change continuously, which is called transience in Zen Buddhism. Transience means "not remain". All things in nature change gradually. Changes are our lives and lifetimes. If you don't want to change them, you will have worries and suffer. But if you accept the changes as they are, the worries and suffers won't be them. Gardens are the place that you can realize it. And Japanese people may have tried to find beauty in the changes."


Below is an excerpt from the book; get rid of unnecessary goods.
-When things aren't going well, we tend to think that there is something lacking. However, if you want to change the current situation, letting go is priority than getting something. Remove your obsession, don't assume, reduce your possessions. Living on a simple life means throwing out baggage of body and mind. Letting go or discarding is pretty difficult. As with a separation from someone, sometimes it might be painful. But if you want to get things done smoothly and live lightly, why don't you start by letting go? When you let go, a thing that newly comes is riches.-


It sounds like a contradiction that letting go enriches your life. But probably that means you could elevate to a new level, which gives you strength and mental space. So I would like to clear up my house during the next Golden Week holidays. (H.S)


View of the hotel's garden created by Masuno from the lounge
(The photo is from Cerulean Tower Tokyu Hotel's website.)


The calm atmosphere in the evening


The garden of Gotanjoji Temple in Echizen City, Fukui Prefecture, which is popular as a cat temple, was also created by Masuno.
(The photo is from Masuno's website as a landscape designer.)


There might be the "answer" on the page you opened.

Wonderful views from Mt. Iwagomori in Tsuruga City, Fukui Prefecture



Last Saturday, a friend of mine asked me to go hiking in Mt. Iwagomori in Tsuruga City. We made the "Daguchi Trail" round trip from the drive-in Shinohara along National Route 161.


As with Mt. Aobayama, which I visited last time, the mountains in Reinan area of Fukui Prefecture seem to have a great view and bright. I think it's because there are no very high mountains around them.


The height of Mt. Iwagomori is not so high, 765.2 meters, but I was able to enjoy the wonderful view of Tsuruga Bay below. And I was also able to see Lake Biwa and Mt. Ibuki to the south and even Mt. Hakusan to the north.

A flat place named "Indian Plains" near the top of Mt. Iwagomori


"Jaws Rock", a symbol of the Indian Plains


The central area of Tsuruga City and the Sea of Japan


Lake Biwa and Mt. Ibuki to the south


Mt. Hakusan in the distance


Shichiken Street in Ono City with old-style atmosphere


Places to visit

The other day, I went to Ono City to see a lecture and stopped by the Shichiken Street on my way back.


The street is famous for its morning market. But after the morning market, you can enjoy strolling the street. There are traditional townhouses on the stone-paved road and you can feel a quiet atmosphere of the castle town.


If I came to the Schiken Street, I must buy special sweet potato cakes. So I went to the Japanese confectionery shop and I heard that they would finish selling of the sweet potato cakes on April 20th and I was able to buy them in time.


Also, I could get sake "Hanagaki" because its sake brewery and shop was close by. In the sake shop, there remains an old tea ceremony room's entrance, so if you go to the shop, please pay attention to it. And, they will hold "Hanagaki Sake Brewery Festival" on May 11th and 12th. (H.S)


The sake shop's window
There is dynamic calligraphy of "Hanagaki".
And the display is for spring.


The appearance of the sake brewery
The ball made with cedar leaves was hung, which announced that new sake has produced.


The street is lined with houses with lattice doors.


Ono has abundant groundwater.
There is one here, too.


I bought this genuine-rice non-filtered raw sake.
It was fresh and had the deliciousness of rice, which made me feel happy.  

I'm proud that we have Varve Museum in Fukui Prefecture


Places to visit

Fukui Prefectural Varve Museum (center)


Fukui Prefectural Varve Museum’s entrance


Lake Mikata and Lake Suigetsu. The Varve Museum is located in the circle at the bottom right.


Professor Nakagawa explaining in front of samples of varves


How interesting science is!


Last month, I participated in a guided tour by a paleoclimatology professor Takeshi Nakagawa at the Fukui Prefectural Varve Museum. According to Nakagawa, the museum is an "edgy" facility made only to show 45-meter soil lump.


In fact, it's the only museum in the world that shows the full varves piled up for 70,000 years taken from the bottom of the Lake Suigetsu, one of the Five Lakes of Mikata.


The varves of the Lake Suigetsu have been created because some conditions met miraclulously. There was a hard effort to collect and prepare the samples. And dynamic changes of the earth can be seen from the samples.


I was fascinated by the professor's talk and moved by the point of view as a scientist who works on a large scale phenomenon.


And, I felt proud that Fukui Prefecture made this facility.


Fukui Prefectural Varve Museum official website

Cherry blossom viewing party at Nishiyama Park


Places to visit

I joined the cherry blossom viewing party at the Nishiyama Park, Sabae City.


The Nishiyama Park is famous for azaleas and also it is a great cherry blossom viewing spot that has about 1,000 cherry trees.


Unfortunately, it was cloudy that day, and perhaps for that reason, it was not too crowded for a Sunday, so I could enjoy leisurely cherry blossom viewing.


There is a roofed space that has tables and chairs in the Nishiyama Park, so if it rains, you don't need to worry. Also, food stalls are set up a lot and there are spacious public restrooms thereby, which are convenient for visitors.


If you take a Fukutetsu train in front of Fukui Station, One Day Pass for Saturdays, Sundays and national holidays is a saving. (H.S)


Looking at the lawn area from the north near Nishiyama Bridge


View from the south
Thick growth of small trees on the nearer side are azaleas.
In May, around here is covered with azalea blossoms.


The party was a potluck.


First, we toasted with red wine.


The white wine was good, too.


Headed to Nishiyama Zoo located in high place in the park to see lesser pandas while viewing the cherry blossoms.


Many lesser pandas were taking a nap, but Milky (female), which was busy with grooming herself, finally looked over here and I managed to take this photo. She was born on July 7th, so she was named Milky from Milky Way of Tanabata: the Star Festival (July 7th).