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Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Japanese Currents

I live in a world inspired by a place I've never seen.

When I was little I used to stand on the beach holding my mother's hand. She told me how the Japanese Current carries glass floats to our Pacific Northwest shores decades after storms tear them loose from fishing nets thousands of miles away. We decorated our house in the little coastal town the same way everyone did, by hanging those glass floats from the eaves.

Here in Seattle our older neignborhoods are peppered with low-slung wooden 1950s and 60s homes. Their long overhanging eaves are adorned not with floats but with chains conducting our copious rain into artificial streams of moss-covered pebbles. Stone lanterns gather lichen under cedar trees. And no courtyard is complete without a twisting maple tree flaming red in the fall.

In spring the city erupts into clouds of pink-and-white cherry blossoms. And in summer people wander through the Japanese Garden in the Aboretum, posing for pictures among the groves of purple irises.

So it's natural that I would want to visit Japan, the source and inspiration for all this beauty. Seattle's large and influential Japanese community has a long and not always happy history, but there's no denying that their artistic sensibility has been an extraordinary gift to our city. I want to visit the cities, temples and gardens that were the inspiration for my surroundings here on the other side of the Pacific Ocean.  I have put off the visit for many years due to the high cost, but I hope not to have to wait too much longer.

On the beach I would squint at the horizon and imagine I could see Japan faintly in the distance. It was really nothing more than the shadow of a distant cloud, but my imagination filled it with pagodas, castles and torii gates. I dream of the day when those things are really before me.

This post is part The Travel Belles' regular "Across the Cafe Table" discussion, at

1 comment:

  1. So lovely! Darn - I want to go to Japan now too. I love the image of you squinting at the horizon... great detail!Thanks for playing!