Posts Tagged ‘ japan ’

Still Here

For one brief moment I thought happily that the Mayan Apocalypse would bring a natural if noisy close to this eternal progression of blogs, but it was not to be. No bang then, just the sound of a faint whimper as I settle down to the keyboard while 2012 dips below the horizon. So . . . back from Japan, where the maples were turning their impossible colours – fifty shades of red, in fact.

Maruyama Park, Kyoto

Maruyama Park

Nanzen-ji

Nanzen-ji

The Japanese response to this amazing display is even more marked than in the spring. However early I arrived, each tree was surrounded by visitors paying homage and often carrying an emperor’s ransom in cameras around their necks.

Nanzen-ji

Tree worshippers – Nanzen-ji at first light

Back home in time to receive a daughter home from Mexico. She seems to have a gift for acquiring distinctive holiday souvenirs. Last time it was a llama foetus, so expectations were high and we were not altogether surprised when she presented us with a traditional Mexican delicacy (see below). I think Tyrrell’s Crisps have missed a trick here, or maybe not. Luckily she’s not going far foreign in the near future . . .
Alex Ramsay

And so to the future – here is a Japanese carp, symbolic of good fortune and also perseverance. Heaven knows we’ll need them both in 2013, so I wish you all, friends, family and readers unknown –

A Happy New Year!Alex Ramsay

That Time of Year Again

Autumn, and a primeval urge of overwhelming force drives the salmon up mighty rivers to spawn in the remote headwaters that witnessed their own conception. Likewise, in another of nature’s spectacular seasonal rituals, vast herds of photographers feel compelled to visit the nearest wood and take snaps of fallen leaves. Not to be left out, here are a couple I spawned recently.

oak apples

Oak apples

spangle galls on an oak leaf

Spangle galls

Off to Kyoto tomorrow morning, so a restful silence will ensue until I return with far too many pictures of crimson maple leaves strewn across elegantly raked gravel. Sayonara to all.

The Blog is Back

The summer seems to have passed in a long soggy flash, if you can imagine such a thing. I can’t believe I’ve not blogged since March – I plead far too much travel in mitigation. Repeated trips to the Veneto, to Sicily and Malta and a long visit to Japan resulted in an appalling deluge of pictures and an unwillingness to spend further time in front of the computer. I’m just back from Venice having completed my part of Gardens of Venice & the Veneto. A lot of fun to shoot thanks to the huge efforts of the author, the talented and beautiful Jenny Condie who has tracked down some extraordinary new places for our book, as well as the usual suspects. Among them are a Masonic garden with a skull-shaped grotto, a subterranean aquarium, monasteries, mazes and, this being the Veneto, more stone dwarfs than you can shake a stick at (if that’s your idea of a good time, as the great Groucho used to say). All this is just to whet your appetites – no pictures until nearer publication, I’m afraid. Well all right, just one –

Palazzo Soranzo Cappello, Venice

During my time off I found it impossible to take many photographs in Venice. Too many familiar views, too many cameras (and iPhones and iPads), too easy to take a quick snap instead of looking. I rather agree with those tribes who are said to believe that photographs steal their souls, and I begin to think that it may be true of places as well. I did succumb on occasion, though, particularly as one visit coincided with the annual Regata Storica.

Racing gondolas on the lagoon

the regata storico

Racing on the Grand Canal

the regata storico

A fanfare for a Doge

Further afield I’m working on a book on Zen temple gardens. I begin to understand a little more about these remarkable places, and how to look at them. The Japanese passion for stones became clear to me when I found this specimen, whose textured surface reveals a whole landscape.

Stone at Myoshinji

My last trip to Kyoto coincided with firefly season. Above the stream near my hotel the air was full of them, whirling up like sparks from a bonfire

Firefly

Shoden-ji, Kyoto

Todai-ji, Nara – the largest wooden building in the world

And finally, for those of you who are local, I’m sharing a small exhibition – In Our Empty Rooms – at the Sidney Nolan Trust of work made in collaboration with the sculptor Justine Cook, from the 13th-20th October. It will be a pleasure to see you at the opening on Friday 12th October, 5-7 pm. More information at www.sidneynolantrust.org

No Such Thing As A Free Launch

Well, that’s got The Gardens of Japan off to a good start. A hundred or so friends, family and acqaintances came and made a determined attempt to drink us dry in the intervals of saying nice things to Helena and I about the book. They bought a copy or three as well, I’m relieved to say. David & Sara Bamford generously offered us their beautiful new cafe and gallery as a location for the launch and the accompanying small exhibition. A very good evening altogether, and we even managed, just, to cover the cost of putting it on. Gone, alas,  are the glory days when books went hurtling down the slipway awash with the publisher’s champagne.

Book launch

some of the multitude

If you missed it, the exhibition is on until May 2nd at The Workhouse Gallery, Presteigne, LD8 2UF (01544 267864). Opening hours are 10 – 4 from Tuesday to Saturday, 12 – 4 on Sundays, closed Mondays. Copies of the book are also on sale, as are some of Jake Hobson‘s beautiful Japanese gardening implements. Oh, and if you’ve seen the book – and like it – we’d be grateful for a brief review or rating on Amazon. Thanks!

Our glamorous girls man the bar

A new feature – the Telegraph Magazine, Saturday 6th March

Ginkaku-ji Temple

The gravel garden at Ginkaku-ji, Kyoto

In tomorrow’s Telegraph Magazine, extracts and pictures from The Gardens of Japan. Just a taster – I’m afraid you still have to buy the book, which is published on the 25th March. Visit and support your local independent bookseller for choice, but if like us you’re miles from anywhere, you can always get it from guess who (link on the book cover below)
The Gardens of Japan

The Gardens of Japan – first review

Our first review for The Gardens of Japan, and we really couldn’t ask for a better one. It’s in the current (March) issue of Gardens Illustrated and is by Charles Quest-Ritson, to whom all thanks. “Ravishingly beautiful and inspirational” – yes, we can live with that. Official publication date is the 25th March, though some bookshops already seem to have stock.

Ryoan-ji Temple, Kyoto

A weeping cherry overhangs the famous ochre wall at Ryoan-ji Temple

A current feature

In the next issue of Country Life (Wednesday 24th February), Helena Attlee looks at the wonderful temple garden of Hosen-in, near Kyoto

tsukubai

A 'tsukubai' for ritual hand-washing

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