- Elizabeth Mikutowicz -
The Spring rain we've been experiencing on the Pacific Coast is lending itself to some delicious greenery. Everywhere I look, I'm noticing new growth. I especially love the delicate blossoms that are just starting to burst forth.
This time of year always reminds me of Japan because the blossoming of cherry trees is particularly important and highly celebrated in Japan. Not only is it a spectacular sight to see, dozens of trees enveloped in delicate pale pink flowers, but the "sakura viewing festivals" that spring up all over Japan to honor and admire the blossoms is also quite remarkable. The blossoms represent the fleeting and transitory nature of life and therefore should been enjoyed to the fullest during their short existence.
How would you like to experience a labyrinth of blossoming cherry trees? On the Island of Naoshima, commonly known as "The Art Island," this is entirely possible! This is one of my favorite destinations in Japan because it is a confluence of opposites.
Naoshima is a small island located in the Inland Seto Sea. The quaint little village, a traditional place, is an unlikely location to find several modern art museums and art installations scattered all over. The juxtaposition of contemporary art in the traditional setting is done in a tasteful way, such that is it not jarring. In fact, it brings out the beauty of both the traditional and the modern. Take for example, the Art House Project, in which roughly a dozen old derelict homes were purchased throughout the town and used as venues for installation art. The houses were preserved in their original state and unique exhibits were added. The viewer is taken on a wonderful self guided walking tour throughout the island and admires the contemporary art, but also reflects on the exquisite construction of traditional Japanese homes. It is a wonderful way to honor traditional Japan.
Another beautiful interaction we see is the role of nature in the man made. Naoshima, like all of Japan, is a lush subtropical environment where plants thrive. Both the Benesse House and Chichu Art Museums feature clean, sleek architecture. The simple concrete structures are incredibly sexy and modern, but are done in such a way that patrons notice, reflect on, and interact with the surrounding natural environment. Dwell magazine, eat your heart out, these places are top notch; and lucky for us, Benesse House also happens to be a hotel if you're ready to drop the big bucks (trust me, it's worth it).
As we all continue with our week, let's take a lesson from the delicate little cherry blossom; the things we love most in life seem to have a tragically short lifespan. In truth I suppose their lifespans only seem short because we love them so much and couldn't possibly ever get enough. Let us make a commitment to be present and honor these things, people, or places we love so dearly to our fullest capacity.