The Woods and the Trees

The journey began most auspiciously —  a seat in (Lawn Bowls) Green Car no. 8 (八) on the lucky-for-Alex No. 17 Nozomi.

Since I would be spending the weekend working with “woods,” I paid a visit to the Takenaka Carpentry Tools Museum close to Shin-Kobe Station. Magnificent.

Takenaka Carpentry Tools Museum


Model of the interlocking brackets of Toshodaiji Golden Hall in Nara

Inspired, I bought a book in the Museum shop and set off in the direction of Sannomiya. The weather was balmy and the signage persuasive. Unexpectedly, I found myself taking the ropeway to the Nunobiki Herb Gardens.

View of Kobe from the ropeway to Nunobiki Herb Gardens

There were rugby fans everywhere, many of them Ireland supporters licking their wounds.

Most of Japan’s traditional “seven flowers of autumn” are hard to find these days, susuki pampas grass being a grand exception.

Cosmos is not one of the “seven flowers” but is a pretty modern-day sign of the times.

Likewise, though less common, the red spider lily, planted here among tea shrubs.

Onwards, and here was another auspicious number. From Sannomiya it’s a no. 66 bus to Shiawase no Mura. 66 is the year I was born. The other big event of that year was England winning the World Cup.

Shiawase no Mura is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year. “The Village of Happiness” is a vast complex of senior citizen and care-worker accommodation, rehabilitation facilities for the elderly and people with disabilities, recreation grounds and sports facilities. Japan (and the world) needs more places like this.

The Main Hall at Shiawase no Mura has hotel accommodation, a fabulous “jungle onsen,” swimming pool, fitness center, restaurant and even a farmer’s market
The Japanese Garden at Shiawase no Mura. Two more rainbows here.

Lawn Bowls is one of the sports offerings at Shiawase no Mura.

Bowlers come from far and wide to use the green, as do locusts and praying mantis.

I purchased a set of bowls this year and had them engraved with Hotei, the Laughing Buddha. One of the “Seven Lucky Gods,” Hotei appears to be saving my good fortune for non-bowls events.

The 2019 Bowls Japan Singles Championships for men and women were held over two days, October 5 and 6.

YC&AC’s Adachi picked up a couple of wins in Group B but could not progress to the semis.

Russell Forsyth, eventual runner up, fires out Adachi’s lying wood for another point in a big win

Yours truly managed just one win in five attempts over the two days, while Saori likewise struggled in the women’s event.

No amount of staring at the scoreboard could change the outcome.

I was assigned the task of marking the semi-final between the eighty-eight-year-old maestro Mr. Nakagawa and Mr. Yamane from the impressive Kobe Touchers club. In a brilliant see-saw battle over 10 ends, Yamane went into the final end 7-6 up and holding the jack. Accurate bowling by Nakagawa coupled with some slightly wayward woods from Yamane however left the latter on the cusp of elimination holding his last wood. Spectacularly, Yamane bowled a yard-on shot, clinically removing and replacing Nakagawa’s lying wood. This was a world class match with an astonishing finish. If you zoom in on the two gentlemen’s faces, you can see them smiling.

Amazing last end of the Nakagawa v Yamane semi-final

Mr. Yamane went on to win the championship, beating Russell Forsyth in the final. Mrs. Goda won the women’s final. For details and more photographs, visit the Bowls Japan website and Facebook page.

Wiser for the experience, Alex, Saori and Adachi

On the train back to Yokohama I read the book I bought in the Carpentry Tools Museum shop. I liked this point:

“Today, if you have money you can purchase beautiful things… In an era where so many modern technologies and conveniences exist, the reason we still choose to go to the forest is because it’s still the most luxurious thing we have.” — Yutaka Miura

He’s right of course, and how slow we all are to realize it. The line reminded me of this, by William Wordsworth, written in 1802.

The World Is Too Much With Us

The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers;—
Little we see in Nature that is ours;
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!
This Sea that bares her bosom to the moon;
The winds that will be howling at all hours,
And are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers;
For this, for everything, we are out of tune;
It moves us not. Great God! I’d rather be
A Pagan suckled in a creed outworn;
So might I, standing on this pleasant lea,
Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn;
Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea;
Or hear old Triton blow his wreathèd horn.

Touring rugby fans among the trees and flowers at Nunobiki Herb Gardens in Kobe


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