Last week I stopped by the Birmingham Botanical Gardens for a stroll through its authentic Japanese Garden. Designed by Mr. Masaji Morai, the Japanese Garden was opened in 1967 by the Japanese ambassador to the United States. It contains traditional Japanese architecture and garden elements, including a sixteenth century style tea house.
One enters the garden through a red torii gate or "gate to heaven".
The Yoshino cherry trees were blooming, and a gentle breeze brought showers of the white blossoms to the ground around me as I strolled through this piece of paradise.
Here is the Taylor Gate, the entrance to the Cultural Center, where the tea house is located.Toshinan, whose name means the house where those gathered can light a wick of undertanding in each other's heart, was built by one of Japan's finest shrine and temple builders, Mr. Kazunori Tago of Maibashi. He used only traditional tools and techniques in the Sukiya-style tea house, designed with natural materials and rustic but refined simplicity. Maibashi is Birmingham's sister city in Japan, and its citizens donated all of the materials used in construction of the tea house.
I was fortunate to participate in an authentic tea ceremony here some years ago when I worked as a docent at the BBG. A Japanese geisha prepared tea for a group of us in the traditional manner. The green tea was thick and tasted like spinach!
Here are more scenes from my walk through the Japanese Garden.
You can see more photos of the Japanese Garden by clicking on its photo gallery in the sidebar. Enjoy, and may you feel content and free as a cherry blossom in the breeze. Deborah