Monday, September 12, 2011

Precision gardening.

Tokyo seems torn between two ideologies: a certain comfort with chaos and a desire for perfection and precision.  The tension created by these two ideas makes for a great vacation spot.  Japanese perfection and precision are on full display at the Shinzuku Gyoen Gardens.  This sprawling park in the heart of Shinzuku is divided into a variety gardens that are near perfect in their precise presentation of nature.  Even when something is serendipitous, it's hard not to imagine that a hidden gardener isn't responsible.  Even though much of the park is natural woodlands, it's obvious that those areas have been carefully planned to enhance the experience of the other gardens.  Many of the garden's traditional Japanese areas are perfect vistas that transport you back to a different time.  I loved how many of the trees are being carefully sculpted to create just the perfect view.  Notice the pine tree on the right with a prop to force the branches into a place that frames the view more beautifully.  Some trees had a dozen or more such devices.

In this scene a crane struck such a perfect pose in the perfect place that I first I thought it was a sculpture.

For sheer precision gardening, the French-style gardens are amazing.  There must be an army of gardeners that keep everything manicured, although I didn't see a single gardener on the day of my visit.

One of the surprises of the garden is the noise in the heavily wooded areas.  I blame it on the heat and humidity which have to make the bugs and the birds happy (or maybe angry) enough to inspire plenty of noise.  I guess I was surprised because I've never thought of Japan as a place that would sound so tropical.  It's almost loud enough to drown out the noise of the city.  To demonstrate, here's a short video from the garden

Finally, here's a self portrait along one of the garden's many shaded paths.  Look for my next post which will be all about the chaos.

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