In Japan’s Sagano Bamboo Forest, onthe outskirts of Kyoto, the towering forest of green stalks sway in the wind,they collide and twist, creak and groan, leaves rustle, creating a peacefulsound.
Oiran were high-rankingglamorous courtesans in Japanese society. The Oiran tradition started in theearly Edo period (1600-1868), and at the time Oiran was seen as an entertainerand a superstar. The services of oiran were expensive and exclusive to theupper classes of society. Though regarded as trend setting and fashionablewomen at the historic height of their profession, the oiran was usurped in thelate 18th through 19th centuries by geisha.
The Japanese zen garden or “dry landscape” garden, creates aminiature stylized landscape through carefully composed arrangements of rocks,water features, pruned trees and bushes, and uses gravel or sand that is rakedto represent ripples in water. Classical zen gardens were originally createdat temples of Zen Buddhism in Kyoto during the Muromachi period (1300 -1573) toserve as an aid to meditation. The rocks in the garden represent elements suchas islands, mountains, trees, bridges and even animals.
Koi fish addcolour and life to the Japanese garden’s water feature. Koi symbolize good luck, abundance and perseverance.
The shimenawa is a special rope tied around or acrossan object or space to denote its sanctity or purity. Tassels usually hang fromthe rope at intervals. They are often found at Shinto shrines, torii gates, andsacred landmarks. Today this “enclosing” or “sacred” rope is also a commonpart of New Year decorations, and made of rice or wheat straw.
ThunderGate Lamp, Kaminarimon Gate, entrance to Sensoji Temple, Asakusa, Taito City,Tokyo. An intricate dragon-shaped woodencarving adorns the base of the gateway’s red lantern. This dragonlived in water and was revered as a god that could save Asakusa fromfire with its power over water.