These Japanese gardens, which reflect the historically strong Pacific Rim influence of Japanese culture here, are the epitome of the eighteenth century Japanese concept of mono no aware: the transient nature of beauty and life in general.
According to mono no aware, a falling or wilting autumn flower is more beautiful than one in full bloom precisely because we are aware of its fleeting nature.
I was just at the Seattle Japanese Garden at the southern end of the Washington Park Arboretum this week. (Interestingly, the even more mature, large, and sumptuous Portland Japanese Garden is also in Washington Park--in Portland.) I couldn't stop ahhhing at the loveliness in front of me.
As I wandered the pathways that wind through exquisitely landscaped grounds, my hands became chilled because I couldn't put away my camera.
I've pondered how much my compulsion to take photographs interferes with actually experiencing and appreciating the splendor of what's in front me at the time. I've decided that it just makes me appreciate things a bit differently. But the photos prolong my appreciation and preserves this spectacular autumn display.
The colors are at their peak this week, right now. This tremendous local beauty is fleeting, so go today, tomorrow, or within a week at the most if you can.
And come back and leave a comment telling me about it!
When You Go
The Seattle Japanese Gardens are open Tuesday through Sunday from 10 am to 5 pm until November 2, then 10 am until 4 pm through November 30, when the gardens close for the winter. Get there early on weekends so you can find a place in the parking lot (like I didn't last Sunday). Entry fee is $6 for adults. Here's a map of how to find the gardens. The Portland Japanese Garden is open seven days a week, 10 am until 4 pm. The Garden is located in the west hills of Portland, Oregon, directly above the International Rose Test Garden in Washington Park.
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