In Kyoto, there's a hidden garden near Nanzenji owed by Matsushita, the parent company of Panasonic.
The garden is called Shinshin-an and the beautiful brochure that describes the gardens goes into great detail about the origin of the garden itself and its meaning to Matsushita's founder, Konosuke Matsushita.
Random folks can't wander onto the grounds -- you need an invitation. A few weeks ago, I tagged along with more important people on a guided tour.
The garden is surrounded by a high wall that separates it from the street outside. Although Kyoto is the old capital of Japan, the cityscape has received the same brutal architectural treatment as all of Japan's major cities. Standing outside the garden, you are decidedly in modern Kyoto.
When you step inside, though, everything changes. The noise from outside disappears, replaced with the burble of a stream that runs through the garden. Stones and moss, strategically wetted before your arrival so that they glint in the sun, invite you towards the gravel paths that meander through the grounds.
The place is a photographer's dream. I don't think it's possible to take a bad photo. Even with my dinky cameraphone and terrible eye, I got some very nice shots.
After getting the garden tour, we were invited to participate in a tea ceremony, using ceramicware that was both exquisite and incredibly expensive. One got the sense that dropping one of the cups, which are carefully cataloged and curated, would be an expensive faux pas.
I'll scan the brochure in when I get a chance, but here are two pictures taken in the garden:Posted by pmk at December 10, 2004 11:24 PM