As quickly as we arrived, it was time to leave and travel to my sister’s new home town, Murayama. Dragging myself out of bed, or maybe I was dragged out…details and blurred memories, lets just say I did not want to leave. We gathered our bags and began to walk to the train station. We again passed under the butchered Ginkgo trees and small porches filled with potted gardens, stopping to grab a balanced breakfast of donuts and coffee at Mr. Donut. We stepped onto our train and headed for Saitama to pick up my sister’s car.
We made it to my sister’s car without a single problem! This trip was going smoothly; like a well oiled machine, we were churning through Japan. Mile after mile we frolicked, pioneers pushing forth through unknown territories. We were invincible! There was only one problem: our new navigator Siri was also in unknown territories and does not know how to differentiate roads when they are stacked on top of each other. Add to that the unforgiving passage of Japanese through-way with one exit that you…just missed, and the next second we were in the heart of Tokyo, headed the wrong direction 30 minutes out of our way. In the blink of an eye our relaxed 4 hour road trip turned into a 6 hour experience of traffic accidents, sister being “patient”, and celebration donuts for doing a good job. Want to know what the scenery was like during all of this? Well, so do I! The through-way in Tokyo is a walled-in tunnel of despair that spits you out a broken basket case! However, in hindsight this may have been the most memorable part of the trip. Adrenaline has a way of imprinting memories. After nearly 3 hours of HIGH stress driving in circles, we made it into the mountains of Japan. Incredible views, tunnel passages through the peaks, and Murayama itself ushered us in calmly. This was a sample of the lifestyle we would enjoy the rest of our stay.
To start off, I love this city. Laid back and friendly, my week spent in Murayama and the surrounding cities are some of the fondest memories I have stored away. From eating soba, sushi and ramen, to tentacles and…fish *cough* product…I was able to immerse myself into the food scene well. I visited many shops and got to “talk” or mime to a few of the residents. I even spent a steam-filled night in the local Onsen with a guy I met a day before snowboarding! I was also able to see how people in smaller towns took on landscaping! First and foremost, extensive landscapes are certainly a rarity. Here people focused more on their farms; only some had time to tend to a small group of plants around their home. However, those plants they did have were cared for exceptionally. Every single plant I saw was tied up and protected for the hard winters the area endured. Why invest in something if you won’t care for it right?! I am struggling to sum up the incredibly fond emotions and memories I have for this town. Incredible, memorable and fascinating are a few words.
For those that know me personally you will know I have a fondness for indoor plants. I came across a few during my time in Murayama especially in one of the last restaurants we visited. The owner had an assortment of philodendron and poinsettia, among other plants that made his small space feel alive and warm on a cold snowy evening. Cold was the theme of the week, capped off by heavy snows later on. This in turn kept me drinking warm vending machine teas and coffees (get your act together America, this is the future and we need this), which led to a drinking spree of sampling as many different sodas, teas and other beverages I could get my hands on. It made for a fun sub-story throughout the trip, a driving force to keep me exploring!
A week of fun came and went. Leaving with snowboarding injuries(my poor tailbone), a confused stomach and satisfied travel bug we all packed back up and headed for the train station. My bubble of unaware bliss was about to pop, but the week spent in Japan was something of a revelation for me, not only on a personal level, but in a landscaping mindset as well. The landscapes I saw here were simple, aside from the national gardens which were more extensive. People had few plants to care for, but kept them looking beautiful, allowing the plant to bring pride and life to their home. This is a good lesson for all aspiring gardeners and landscapers out there. Quality will always overcome quantity in the landscape. An over-planted landscape can quickly become a jungle if time and money isn’t invested into it. Landscaping is not meant to be stressful! Be sure to think through what the perfect landscape for you is or ask a professional like Eagleson Landscape Co. for advice.
Leaving behind 2 feet of snow and an incoming blizzard we headed back to Tokyo on the Shinkansen. Speeding through cities, mountains and fields I looked back on my week in Japan. A country filled with people as beautiful as the landscapes that surround them, Japan is a country I will always recommend. I know I hope to visit again! From the high-pace attitude of Tokyo, to the slow crawl of Murayama, Japan offers an experience around every corner. I hope you enjoyed the trip through my memories. I have certainly enjoyed writing out my thoughts.
Please feel free to ask any questions!