March 26, 2017 Newcomers in the garden


Since we bought the old house  a year ago, we have planted several young plants, expecting them to grow and make flowers, fruits and nuts someday.

 Unfortunately, none of them grew as fast as beans of “Jack and the Beanstalk”. We must wait, for years for some of them.

3 years for Peach and Chestnut, 8 years for Persimmon (=Kaki)

      –Old Japanese proverb (Edo period, the 17th-19th century)  

The first nursery tree we planted was Chestnut. 

We hope to harvest our first chestnuts in one to two years.

We also planted blueberries. As for blueberries, we can expect to get fruits from the first year, meaning by this coming autumn.

We planted a young fig tree, too. As for fig, we can also get fruits by the first year.

Not just for eating but also for nice smell, we planted a fragrant young orange-colored olive in the backyard of the garden.

Finally, we built a big trellis for wistaria, expecting to see flowers next year. The two young trees of wistaria are expected to hang down two meter-long flowers !

Wisteria flowers have been appreciated by nobilities since old days.

I really adore Wisteria flowers with long, deep colored clusters

       –The Pillow Book (The Pillow Book or 枕草子, by Sei Shonagon, the 11th century)

Among our old friends of the garden, winter daphne or “Daphne Odora” with white and red colored flowers are fully blooming, giving off sweet fragrance throughout the garden.

Under the shade of trees, Narcissus is blooming solitarily, away from the sunny side of the garden.


March 21, 2017 Rice field wakes up


Rice was introduced in our country 3,000 years ago from China. Since then, rice field has always been a typical landscape. The salaries of lower grade Samurais were paid by the amount of rice. Higher grade Samurais received his fief by the size of rice field.

People’s happiness was measured by the amount of crops, especially rice, held in their house.

Watching from upper floor of my palace, 

Columns of smoke coming out from people’s rice cooking oven

新古今和歌集、New Collection of Ancient and Modern Japanese Poetry, by Emperor Nintoku, the 5th century

Farmers turn over the rice field abandoned during winter, and wait for young rice plants to grow.

Rice field on the back of our old house is also turned over.

Farmers cultivates young rice plants inside greenhouses.

Our village reanimates as tractors turns over rice field. Yes, farmers and tractors also wake up from long winter sleep.

Rape blossoms are thriving along the rice field, announcing the coming spring.

Coming out to spring meadows

to pick herbs for you, 

Spring snow falls on my kimono sleeve

百人一首 or the Hundred Poems by One Hundred Poets, No 15 by Emperor Kouko, the 8th century

March 11, 2017 Azalea of Manki Castle


Our old house is facing a road leading to the hill where an old castle use to be.  The castle has had a name of Manki Castle.  It was built in around 14-15th century by a samurai clan called Toki. The rule of Toki clan in the region was overthrown in the 16th century and the castle was eventually demolished. During the rein of Toki clan, our small village, Rakumachi, with around 100 houses, is said to have served as an entertainment district where joyful shops, bars and restaurants  were lining up in order for those living in the castle to enjoy.

The road first leads us to the Isumi river.

Then, the hill shows up. It was where Manki castle used to be. Today, we only have a viewing platform replicating the castle on top of the hill.

The road to the castle is narrow and steep.

We found many Azalea trees, that the branches are woven into a tunnel, just wide enough for a person to walk through. Weird beauty, isn’t it?

Azalea tunnel leads us to the viewing platform, from which we have magnificent view of Rakumachi village and other villages in the midst of rice field. We can also see the Pacific Ocean some 10 km ahead.

This is Rakumachi village. Our old house should show a wide red roof, but it is hidden by trees just behind the red bridge on the Isumi river (at the left-centre of the picture.


March 4, 2017 Spring coming out


In early March, it is still cold in our country. But the Nature captures longer daylight and prepares for the coming Spring.

 Edible flower buds of Fuki (Petasites) is among first blessings of the Nature. Unfortunately, we missed the right timing! The buds have already opened into flowers. We should have picked from the garden earlier to enjoy Tempura. Flowers are too bitter to eat.

Canola flower buds are now ready to be eaten. We boil, and then eat with soya-based sauce.

Edible buds or plants have been enjoyed from the old days.

This time, from tomorrow,

To take edible young plants of spring,

I stretch codes in the field,

Snows is falling down,

Yesterday, and today

Manyo-shu (万葉集, 8th century., Collection of Ten Thousand Leaves, Poet: Yamabe no Akahito)

Trees are budding here and there. Cherry trees, Daphne…

Tulips are coming out too.