Posts tagged Japan

All photos by Wendy Chan

Even though I grew up feeling disconnected from nature as a child, as an adult I now find myself seeking the natural world for inspiration. Whether exploring the trails up in our local mountains or in outdoor areas within the city where nature is carefully planned and designed into the landscape, nature offers inspiration for this landscape architect. Every trip into nature permits an opportunity to bring these experiences and moments of serenity found in nature back into the studio to apply into the context of an urban environment project.

Earlier this year, I visited the town of Dazaifu in the Fukuoka Prefecture of Japan. There, a beautiful dry landscape Japanese garden at the back of the Komyozenji Temple awaits tucked against a hillside named Ittekikaitei, “A Drop of Ocean Garden”. I was immediately taken aback by the serenity of the garden at first sight after walking through the sliding door entry. The garden conveys the movement of water through landscape with a thoughtful arrangement of minimal materials: moss, rocks, gravel, and trees.

As I sat in this harmonious landscape, I could feel the serene tranquility the garden designers and caretakers intended to convey through its every features. I felt I could sit there for hours, feeling the wind, listening to the birds, and watching the soft rustle of leaves against the wind. I almost forgot that the city was just outside the temple’s doorsteps.

Sitting there on the porch overlooking the garden, I felt compelled to remember this feeling and return home to incorporate this sense of serenity into my own landscape architecture projects. Hopefully one day those entering and experiencing a project I design will feel an introspective moment of calm with nature like I did that memorable day inside Komyozenji Temple.

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All photos by Erik Schmahl

At the end of the year there is a tendency to wrap up the last three-hundred and sixty-five days into a packaged time thing. Once packaged, these collected memories can be put in a box, labeled, and stacked neatly on the shelf atop the previous year. For me this practice usually means emptying the refrigerator door of all out of code condiments, pruning the struggling branches on the philodendron, and clearing up space on my phone by archiving and deleting the thousands of photos I have taken since the last big purge. This practice of reflective cleansing typically coalesces with resolutions for the new year.

My original intent was to write a pedantic expose of animal agriculture’s effects on water usage in the context of California’s drought – but at the risk of a self-righteous diatribe, I decided to take a different approach to bringing in the new year.

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The following images were taken during the summer of 2016 in Japan, curated to help me express personal moments of  ‘ah-ha’ inspiration through cellular candid captures. Our phones are the ultimate documentarians – we take them everywhere and snap digital shutters vigorously, often furiously out of simple wonder for the world around us, a ritual that is easily wasted if we don’t take the opportunity to go back through and see what all the fuss was about.

Ever look back and wonder “why did I take seven photos of this curb?” These are those photos. My personal data base of design inspiration, shared.

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