A Moment of Zen at the Kyoto Garden

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London is filled to the brim with public parks and they may well be its greatest asset. In a chaotic city in which hustle and bustle are to be found in abundance, one finds that no matter where you are there is always a secret garden available to provide a much needed reprieve. The Kyoto garden is a particular favourite of mine, a tiny patch of tranquil Japan that can be found at the centre of Holland Park.

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The last week has been blooming mental. In the middle of it I found myself experiencing crippling fear in the face of complete life overload. I was chained to the oar of my work, running on empty, as the slave drum beat out an incessant rhythm of drudgery. Occasionally I looked out to the wider world in search of hope, only to find constant and irritating reminders that the world is absolutely insane.

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Suddenly remembering that Iโ€™m a wistful imaginative fellow with a penchant for the overly dramatic, it crossed my mind that I might be blowing everything out of proportion. Surely not I said to myself. Thankfully I gave it a second thought and quickly realized that all I needed was a break. Thus I hopped on the tube and was whisked away for a brief change of scene. In an instant I was experiencing a resplendent autumns day in a serene environment that came complete with dazzling fish and majestic peacocks.

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A great deal calmer and just getting over the fact that life had once again shown me to be the bigger banana head. I made my first few walks around this small perfectly formed gem with my camera in hand. In no time at all I got myself into a full blown tourist frenzy taking photos of everything. The Kyoto garden has so many hidden perspectives to find and many of them are spellbinding in their beauty.

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Many would criticize the modern day tendency to instantly grab a camera when beholding something wonderful. Such people undoubtedly have a point but I think they miss something as well. In my photo frenzy, it is true that I was in a mind-set that was both narrow in its focus and at a distance from its environment. Nevertheless there was something meditative about this intense search for an interesting perspective, the attempt to capture a moment and find something special and unrepeatable within it. In short the activity has a singular nature to it that in its own way was harmonizing.

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Of course I eventually put my camera aside and spent a full hour just taking it all in. It was here that a different form of harmonizing magic took place. The kind where the very structure of an environment somehow starts to anchor your state of mind and with nothing impeding it a silent joy just creeps in. The Germans have a wonderful word waldeinsamkeit, which has no equivalent in English, but refers to a state of deep solitude in the woods where you nonetheless feel deeply connected to nature. In its own way, the Kyoto Garden gave me a brief glimmer of this. I returned to the great hustle and bustle of the city with renewed vigour.

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I really hope Iโ€™ve inspired you to visit this beautiful park. It is best to go very early before it fills up with Londonโ€™s very own Tibetan singing bowls, aka screaming babies in prams. Finally I wish to thank Marry at Still a Runner for inspiring this post, be sure to check out her article and blog here.

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36 thoughts on “A Moment of Zen at the Kyoto Garden”

  1. I love this garden too! I am really glad you had a relaxing time there. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Last summer this garden was completely full with people collecting pokemon…so it’s nice to see it calmed down again!!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Lol I wondered that as well! There were around 300 people attempting to catch bulbasaurs. It was hilarious.

        Once I went there for a picnic on a Sunday and there were three separate wedding parties that came to the garden to take photos. I loved it, but it was more busy than relaxing…

        Liked by 1 person

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