Now I’m back, but I can’t stop recalling my trip again and again. It is a great study for me. As I mentioned in my first post, I will talking about my reflections based on urban planning and landscape architecture perspectives, now I’m trying to conclude some of my thoughts and feelings as follow.
We always talk about walkability in urban planning, now I would say many Japanese cities would be perfect example of walkability. For instance, from the three hotels I lived in Nara, Osaka, and Kyoto, I can reach 24-hrs convenient store, supermarket, restaurants, subway/train station within 15-minute walk. The other reason makes Japanese cities walkable is that it makes you feel safe and comfortable when you are walking on the street. The street is wide enough for more than two people to walk together. And the most important thing is that I feel safe even I am walking on the street at night, because most stores open until 11 pm and they are scattered in almost every block. When I was walking on the street around 9 pm in Osaka, the streets are so bright and many people are walking on the street as well. I feel very comfortable to enjoy the night outdoor.
My walking experience in Japan makes me some class discussion I had before. We always talk about walkability in urban planning, such as how to make an area/community/blocks walkable, how to make pedestrian-friendly street. But this trip made me started to think maybe walkability is not for the US. Japanese cities are so walkable maybe because their population density is very high and the urban land is very intensive, while these two aspects are totally different in most American cities.
public transportation system –
I found the railway and bus system in Japan is so amazing. The nearly two-week stay in Japan, I went everywhere by railway or bus. I didn’t even think about rent a car in Japan, because the public transportation is so convenient. (Although part of the reason I don’t want to drive in Japan is that their cars have driver’s seat on the right and they drive on the left side of the road. I was nervous about driving under a new rule.) Many Japanese people commute by train and bus for hours each day, and they would rather to do this, instead of buying a car. A friend I visited in Kyoto told me that some people who cannot afford a house in metropolis, such as Tokyo, Osaka, they would buy a house in a surrounding city and commute 3 hours each day.
garden design and zen –
It is great to see Japanese garden in person, after reading it multiple time on book. Although I did not find much difference between the Japanese gardens I read from book and the ones that I saw in person, there are many aspects still impressed me so much. First of all, it requires high maintenance. Like the example of Ginkaku-Ji and Tofuku-Ji, a well-maintained Japanese garden can express the original design thoughts, while a garden that lack of maintenance only express a sense of decline. For this reason, if we want to build a garden and make the beauty of garden accessible to public, what should we do? If we want to transfer a garden to a park, which element(s) of garden should we get rid off? I will make it as a long-term thesis for myself.
How can I miss Japanese food??! Japan has a strong culture in food, as we may already known from Japanese shows and anime. During this trip, I have tried almost every type of Japanese food that I can think of, including ramen, soba, eel rice, tempura, tenshoku, etc. A strong feeling is that Japanese food is teeny-tiny and very beautiful, which sometimes makes me feel it is such a piece of art so that I don’t want to ruin it.
At the end, I really would like to thanks SEBS for providing me this chance to take a close look at the gardens and garden design that I have studied for a long time. As a result, this trip not just answered many questions that I had about Japanese gardens, but also give me a chance to live in a different culture and society. That made me better understand who I am, where I am living, and where I want to go. Thanks SEBS!