My hometown is a very ordinary suburban area fairly close to Kobe city. There are houses, shops and some rice paddies, just like any other typical town in Japan. While I am there I bike around the area early in the morning for exercise and to see what has changed over the years.
My next-door neighbour has a Japanese garden, and the lady asks a professional gardener to trim the pine trees. It is a highly professional skill. You will see them working hard in major Japanese gardens. I saw them in Kokoen next to Himeji Castle and in Kenroku-en in Kanazawa.
The house across the road is world-famous on our street. The owner has collected hundreds of plates and statues and piled them in his front garden. Every time I go back to Japan, I see it has grown with more items. It must be a lot of work to fasten them so they won’t get knocked down by Typhoons.
On the side of of the roads, I see small Buddha statues. I imagine they were sitting in the rice fields in the old days. Now surrounded by houses, they are inconspicuous but still worshiped by some neighbours. Ojizo-san is a protector of children, and we still hold a festival dedicated to him.
This car has been sitting in front of an old house for years. It was late summer and the morning glory was crawling all over it. This reminds me of a well-known haiku in the 18th century: Asagao ni (By Morning glory) Tsurube torarete (the well sweep was taken over) Morai mizu (I got the water elsewhere) – as I dared not remove the flower. I don’t think the car owner stopped driving to leave the flowers, though.