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Inland Empire Water Garden & Koi Society

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Japan Highlights

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Water Gardening 101
A Reflection on Japan

It was with great anticipation that six friends boarded an airplane for Japan in late January. Many things were going through our minds. I am sure that each person involved in this great adventure had a mind set of what to expect. After all we were going to attend the biggest and best Koi Show in the world! We were going to see some of the most famous Koi breeders in Japan. What an experience! Especially if you love Koi.
Even though our trip was Koi oriented, and believe me, Koi was the true purpose of the trip, something happened that would make the experience even more fulfilling for me.
You see, I am a true water gardener at heart. Our first pond was a small water garden. The tranquility we found in the moving water and the beauty of the plants in the pond will never leave us. Even though many of our ponds have been transformed into Koi ponds and the plants have been removed to keep a cleaner, more formal setting for the "passion of the Koi", my favorite pond remains the same.
It is the original pond on our place, the one tucked away in a corner of our yard that you will miss if you are not led to it. This little pond has an abundance of beautiful varieties of unusual aquatic plants, water lilies and yes, goldfish.
It wasnt until I got to Japan this year that my original passion for the water garden was renewed. There was little time to do much sight seeing, but the twenty minute tour that Mr. Toshio Sakai, our host from Isawa, gave us of his favorite place was truly incredible.
Mr. Sakai took us to a hotel in Isawa, where he had, many years before designed a garden. Intertwined with the halls and main rooms, inside and out was the most beautiful water garden I have ever seen. Around each corner was a different scene. In one there was a beautiful bonsai tree and a pagoda surrounded by a Zen garden with not one stone out of place. There were beautiful wood carvings, each hand done and carefully placed to show the quiet pride of the Japanese people. There were unusual plants and strategically placed stones, some semiprecious and some valuable because of shape, size and color. In another area we saw beautifully hand painted urns and graceful flower arrangements.
Each pond, which was gracefully connected to the other with a stream was separated by a grate, to keep the Koi in each area. There were miles of streams connected to ponds, and around each bend was a view designed to take your breath away. Unfortunately, we had too little time to see everything that was there, but as we ran by, Mr. Sakai pointed out to us the best the hotel had to offer. This was a place where one could get lost and never care to be found again.

I am truly grateful to Mr. Sakai for the wonderful hospitality he offered, the most beautiful Koi he showed us and on our way to the airport for home, one of the most wonderful memories of my visit to Japan.

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Toshio Sakai

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Kathy Thompson, NPSI Master

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