This is the first of three reports on our visit in 1997 to Japan. I would like to share with you a few of my personal memories and pictures of this event. In these three reports I will cover a few of our activities and events, selected across the whole trip and not necessarily in chronological order.
Having said that, this report I will concentrate on the early part of the schedule, and in particular our visit on the first day of the conference to Asamizo Park, near Sagamihara City. (Click here for report 2 and report 3.)
The Asamizo Park Tower, an ideal vantage point to survey the surrounding countryside, makes a very prominent landmark, visible from quite a distance. But the main interest for us was the massive planting of clematis on the perimeter fencing of the Park and also inside. Over 7,000 plants representing more than 200 different hybrids and species. A terrific undertaking and one which in the coming years will reward any visitor.
Our visit was commemorated by a Clematis Planting Ceremony, at which the Deputy Mayor of Sagamihara City, the president of the Japan Clematis Society (Mr. Takeuchi) and the president of the International Clematis Society (Malcolm Oviatt-Ham) were invited to place the first spadeful of earth on three clematis to mark our visit to Japan and Asamizo Park. The plants chosen were clematis Mayor Isao, clematis Sagami and clematis Sizukanahikari.
After the ceremony we were given a semi-guided tour of the park, or at least as much of it as we could view in the hour or so our schedule allowed. You really could have spent best part of a day there if you wanted to see everything.
The clematis around the fencing are newly planted and still quite young, but in the years ahead they will make a spectacular show. The planting, whilst containing many Japanese large flowered hybrids such as clematis Hotaki seen here on the right, also included some species, notably integrifolias, and some European hybrids.
Following our tour of the perimeter fencing and the park we were refreshed with tea and cakes, courtesy of the Japan Clematis Society, and intrigued by a demonstration of Andon-zukuri, bamboo frame making, by Mr. Chikuma. A fascinating display of speed and dexterity, made even more impressive when he invited members to have a go. It's definitely not as easy as it looks, as I found out, see photo left of Mr Chikuma and myself. In the end my efforts were passable, but I'll need a lot more practice to be as fast and as consistent as Mr. Chikuma.
So ended our first complete day in Sagamihara, Japan, full of interest and an indication of some of the things in store for us.
But I'll end on a more touristy note, or rather a picture, the Kinkakuji Temple in Kyoto, also known as the Golden Temple, a magnificent building although newer than it appears. The original temple was built in 1397 as a retirement home for Shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu but was then turned into a temple. In 1950 it was completely burnt down by a young monk, but rapidly reconstructed and opened again in 1955. A most impressive building, in beautiful grounds (even in the rain), but also very popular with both foreign tourists and Japanese visitors alike.
Click here for report 2 and report 3.)
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