koi pleat the water
my lips open
On these cold, rainy days it's pleasant to remember our visit to Hakone Garden nestled in the hills of Saratoga, California. In 1915, inspired by both a lifelong interest in Japanese culture and their travels throughout Japan, Oliver and Isabel Stine purchased 18 acres to build a summer retreat. Isabel hired Tsunematsu Shintani to design the Upper "Moon Viewing" House and Naoharu Aihara to design the gardens. Hakone is the oldest Asian and Japanese estate in the western hemisphere.
Strolling through Hakone on a late summer afternoon, John and I felt that we were visiting a daimyo's estate in the mountains of Kyoto. The hillside gardens, unique lanterns, waterfalls, ponds, and meandering pathways were all expertly designed and maintained. I especially enjoyed watching the koi swim nonchalantly over two huge tortoises in the pavilion pond. Also the wisteria tunnel, which I hope to walk through in the spring when the scent and the buzzing bees will be a sensory delight. If you're fit, climb up the path through the bamboo forest in the late afternoon light. Sit on the pavilion and look out at the "Valley of the Heart's Delight", which is present-day Silicon Valley. While we were resting there, I overheard a man telling a group "Over that ridge is Jiko-ji." The name sounded familiar—my friend Chris Herold had sat meditation in that Buddhist temple many years ago. John and I stopped to talk with them and got invited to visit Jiko-ji, which we did the following day. Good things happen when you're in a beautiful place!