It was a very strange day today. The weather was okay, overcast throughout the day but clear, neither wind nor rain. But, in the early afternoon, there were a few times when the town was completely still. I could hear no wind in the trees, no birds or other animals, no human voices. Neither did I hear any cars, even the ambulances that usually come and go to the hospital nearby with their noisy sirens seemed to have taken a break. Later on I realized that there was no sound coming from the sports fields of the schools or the university either. It was an eerie feeling, the proverbial calm before the storm.

Nothing happened so far, and I’m still wondering what could have caused that stillness around. It was no Japanese holiday or end-of-school day or so, and I am not aware of any commemoration to take place today with a certain time of silence (and that wouldn’t happen more than once during the afternoon anyway). The only logical conclusion is that the wind was coming down from the mountain behind the house and countered the noise that is usually coming up the hill. But then again, I didn’t hear any wind either.

Anyway, I wanted to write about the obvious love of the Japanese for greenery. I’m not talking about those beautifully arranged Japanese gardens that look so deceivingly natural without really being it, not this time. I’m talking about those tiny little spots of greenery in front of practically all the houses in my neighborhood, and in fact, throughout Kyoto. Of course, not every place can have a lovely garden like Ebisu’s:

ebisu's gardenFlower Pots next to an entrance - and a vending machine

But nevertheless, it seems that no entrance is to small or too cramped with other stuff not to warrant a little bit of green somewhere. The smallest I have seen are a couple of flower pots, sometimes hung up at the wall next to the door.

I haven’t seen any bonsai trees displayed like that though, but I now understand why you would want to have one. They are readily available at markets now, and even quite affordable. Unfortunately I have grey thumbs rather than green ones, so I’d probably kill them off inadvertently sooner or later. Better not to get one, but they are so lovely.bonsai tree at a fleamarket


I like the feeling those plants convey. It’s very friendly and homely and not as sterile as some parts of European cities can be sometimes.