News and Events

Botanical Buzz - Autumn

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Autumn is one of Shoyoen’s most spectacular seasons. Over the next few months the garden will begin to glow with colour. Liquidambars, Chinese Tallows and Ginkgos will create a dazzling gold and red display which will give visitors reason to pause in delight.

The four seasons are highly significant to the Japanese. Shinto, Japan's native belief system focuses upon the cycles of the earth and the annual agrarian calendar. Expressions of Shinto beliefs include the recognition of divine spirits (kami) in natural elements such as old trees, mountains and waterfalls, and seasonal festivals.

Aki matsuri, autumn festivals thank the kami for a good harvest.

The seasons have also been used by poets, artists and gardeners as a way of giving expression to the Buddhist philosophy that change is intrinsic to the nature of existence. The beauty of the seasons and the poignancy of their inevitable evanescence have inspired many poems, paintings and gardens.

Traditional Japanese poems and paintings using a seasonal theme not only celebrate the sensual appeal of the natural elements but also imbue them with human emotions. Melancholy sentiments, invoked by a sense of passing time and loss are common. The lovely but short-lived blossoming cherry trees (spring) and the beautiful but stark image of persimmons remaining on trees after their leaves have fallen off (autumn).

The persimmon tree in Shoyoen, presently heavy with ripening fruit, has a much more positive association. It was planted to celebrate our Sister City relationship with Minokamo. Dojo Hachiya-gaki,  dried persimmon have been a speciality of Minokamo for hundreds of years.

Traditional Japanese gardens are much more than the creation of an “ideal” landscape or a work of art. Studying Japanese gardens may reveal essential truths about the nature of human existence.

A gentle stroll or meditation in Shoyoen can provide insight into an all embracing natural cycle of unfathomable beauty and complexity.