(The original post can be found here).
(BGM: "Yozora no Mukou" by Shikao Suga)
Like any young, idealistic American Japanophile raised on a steady diet of imported anime, Kurosawa films and campy classics like The Karate Kid, I expected to see a certain level of wa-fu (J-Style) as I embarked upon my survey of this "strange, new world." The tacky and wonderfully cheesy gift shops at Narita and Chitose airports whetted my appetite and I was ready to drown myself in the Hokusai Wave of sumo wrestlers, kimono-clad geisha and samurai. But two weeks into my Japan experience and I saw nothing but a non-stop parade of Prada and Vuitton models, hi-tech gadgets and uninspired square-shaped buildings! I'd studied about Japanese culture my entire life! So where was it? Where were all the ninjas?
|(The ninjas were all training in Shiga Prefecture)|
|"Where have all the geishas gone..."|
"But I didn't come thousands of miles across the Pacific to live in a mirror of Western culture" I whined in defiance. "I came to Japan because it always advertised itself as 'exotic!" I just couldn't accept that I would be spending the next year of my life studying an ancient culture in a land where I couldn't even access it. Even the idea of all that wasted time brought pangs of panicky disbelief to my heart.
Knowing just how to mellow me out, my dorm mate, a Sapporo resident, had the perfect cure for my ills. She led me to a quiet, spacious stretch of Zen-inspired heaven only a few blocks' walk from Susukino Alley: Nakajima Park (Nakajima Koen 中島公園. The official park website in English can be found here).
|Nakajima Park in the Chuo District of Sapporo City|
|The walkways are very popular with cyclists!|
|The old tea house Hasso-an, designated by the government as an "Important Cultural Property,"|
|How could anyone not find this relaxing?|
|Elements of J-Style near the Hasso-an tea house.|
|Nakajima Park maple trees in all their fiery splendor.|
Update: Apparently Nakajima Park was ravaged in 2004 by a typhoon, so some of the trees and structures pictured here might not be there anymore. But I'm certain it's still lovely as ever and quite worthy of its designation as one of the "100 most popular parks in Japan."
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