Now is the time of the beautiful ‘koyo’, or autumn leaves, in Japan. What is especially enchanting is the momoji- Japanese cherry-tree leaves that really have to be seen to be believed. If you thought the lights on a christmas tree look beautiful, then just wait until you see these. What was also a memorable experience when photographing them is meeting the other people, who are all in a wonderful mood as well, whether taking pictures or just basking in the pleasure of them.
I was especially pleased to meet one man who seemed to have an almost divine sense of calm about him as he walked around. Frank is an American, on what was to be his last trip to a land he had taught in for many years and still loved enough to travel around, visiting life-long friends he had made here as a teacher. I had a feeling I would meet someone inspiring in connection with these leaf-viewing sessions and it turned out to be none other than him. He is lucky enough to have friends all over the coutry, in some of the most attractive places to visit- Sapporo, Kyoto, Beppu hot springs and luckily for me at least, Kita-Kogane, home to my favourite temples simply because I know them so well- Hondoji and Tozenji.
He told me that whilst he was here as a professor of child development he was frequently invited not just to restaurants, but into peoples homes, even into their kitchens. Since, on his returning visits, he has watched his students get new jobs, have children and even watched the children themselves change as they grow up. He is much loved by all as he has become such a part of their lives. Teaching private students, I know what a wonderful thing it is to be a part of people’s lives- in some way our own self becomes enlarged. But his current trip was one of both joys and sadness- old friends had passed away and he himself had a couple of fortunately harmless falls that werev seen as signs that such trips may not be so wise in the future.
Whilst here is the photostory, with Taro Hakase’s ‘Flight of the Angel’ accompaniment-
I wish Frank all the best on his retirement and thank him for giving me just the inspiration I needed and at just the right time in my life. He seemed to me as something like a heavenly father-figure, not neccessarily that he is a divine being himself, but this is how he seemed at the time. I learned afresh that by helping each other and sharing the wonderful things of life, we find something timeless and this what any true father wants for his children. Beauty, style, fashion aren’t enough on their own. You have to find their inner meaning, the depths of experience they offer. Hobbies such as koyo or sakura viewing are something that Japan can teach to the rest of the world. No movie or theme park, however fun they may be, can really compare to the feeling one gets from such displays.
Posted by Starfires on December 13, 2006