I kept on drinking the cold bottled water that I bought from one of the vending machines nearby as I patiently waited for other people who signed up to join the activity. The organizers were already there but we were far from complete. We stood outside Jingunishi Station as people from different nationalities started arriving. After I uttered a simple hello to each one, I kept myself busy by looking around or scrolling the feed in my cellphone. I just find small talks so superficial that I just couldn’t get myself to engage in it.
I was one of those who received an email invitation to join the event. As I had not been to Shirotori Garden nor participated in a ‘roudoku’, I was very interested to attend. I wasn’t just going to go sightseeing, but also learn about Japanese culture. I didn’t have so many opportunities to do this after I finished my scholarship in the university. It was also one way for me to mingle and get myself to socialize!
After a long walk to the garden, we were divided into groups. An English guide was assigned to us. As I am not such a fan of guided tours, I found it so long and dragging at first. The tour guide gave trivias about the place and even told us about a famous Japanese story, which I happened to read once at the school library. The volunteer guide was such a nice lady and I later found out that she’s working as a junior high school teacher.
After a guided tour of the garden, we were led into a tea ceremony house. The view overlooking the garden is beautiful. There’s a pond filled with lily pads and carps. Inside the tea house, we were served with green tea and Japanese sweets. I really admire the Japanese way of serving tea. Even though there were many of us, the master didn’t get tired of serving us the green tea individually.
After having the Japanese sweets and matcha, we were given a written copy of the masterpiece “The Restaurant of Many Orders ” by Kenji Miyazawa. The text was written in hiragana. Each one of us were assigned a role to practice. When the ‘roudoku’ or read-aloud session started, I was amazed with how our Japanese companions were so good with the activity. They were amazing voice actors. The session was even complete with sound effects.
The whole activity made me admire the Japanese literary art. There’s harmony with nature. Walking along the Shirotori Garden, drinking green tea, and performing a literary piece help you appreciate art and nature while at the same time calm and relax your mind. It is such an awesome idea to have the garden in the middle of the city. It is a perfect place to escape from the busy metropolis.