The Zen of lotus leaves: graceful, reaching, curling, budding, nurturing, blossoming, caressing, open and welcoming, hiding, labyrinthine, blanketing.
Several of my fellow bloggers have recently written about Ueno Park in Tokyo and others about the concept of wabi-sabi (Travels and Trifles, Albatz Travel), and some of my older photos popped up on Facebook to remind me, a convergence bringing me back to lotus. Sprawling Ueno Park erupts in an explosion of pastel pink during sakura season, the iconic cherry trees in bloom. People gather in small groups on blue tarps to picnic and photograph. Soon after, a shower of pink fills the sky as the petals drift on the breeze finding their way to carpet the ground. A cluster of museums, both art and historical, gather at the north end of the park, a few temples, the zoo to the west.
Shinobazu Pond lives in the traditional historic Shitamachi end of the park. A bridge cuts the pond in two, often dotted by food stalls. On one side, swan-shaped boats paddle around. The other side, the south end near the Shitamachi museum, is gloriously choked with lily pads and lotus plants. One of my favorite places to visit in Tokyo, in the three years I lived there, I paid homage to the lotus plants every year in every season. These shapes speak to me like poetry.
In spring and summer, a mass of the green circular forms cover its surface, ducks bob, and the soft pastel colors of opening flowers appear under shapely leaves that sway in the breeze high above the water, a fecund time of regeneration and growth. In fall and winter, the dried leaves hover above the lake curled into sculptural patterns, like arms and hands reaching and folding, their reflections mirroring their expressive curves—a poem of dying plants in poignant shapes.
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