Sunday, January 11, 2009
A Little Bit of Japanese Culture
Sometimes with all the running around and having our normal lives here in Buenos Aires, I forget to stop and smell the flowers...It's been ages since I opened up my Frommer's Buenos Aires travel book and took a look at descriptions of places I have yet to visit. So, this week, I realized it was time to put a stop to that ignorant nonsense. I opened up my trusty travel paperback, found a page dog-eared from ages ago: page 174 and the description of the Japanese Gardens deep in the heart of leafy Palermo. And here is what the write-up read:
"Special landscaping, rock islands, and small red bowed bridges give the feeling of being in Japan as soon as you step through the gates here. Carp swim in the large central lake, a delight for children as well as adults. Beyond the lake lies the Cultural Center, with a small museum and art exhibitions...A simple restaurant offers tea, pastries, sandwiches, and a few Japanese dishes. Open daily 10-6."
And, I wanted to step through those gates immediately. So, on Sunday, I arranged to meet Brenna at the nearest subway so we could have a stroll through the gardens. Was it ever lovely...Gated off from the main street, as soon as you do step through the entrance, the noise of Avenida Libertador is hushed, and you are free to meander upon the stone and dirt paths in tranquil quiet. True to its description, huge and colorful carp swim through the park lakes, and vendors sell fish food so that park-frolickers can feed the fishies from the bridge. The fish swim over each other and fish-kiss the air in hopes of being the recipients of the free food. The bridges are perfectly arched and painted a crisp fire-engine red. Native Japanese pines dot the landscape, and stone statues depicting samurai's hide amidst the tree's shadows. Park benches languish in the shade, and are perfect for sitting and enjoying a cup of mate, and people watching the park passers-by. Two wooden geisha cut-outs with empty faces stand just waiting to be posed in (how could Brenna and I resist?). A traditional Japanese style building houses a collection of cultural artwork, while a classy yet quaint restaurant on the grounds offers tea and sushi. It is lovely.
Brenna and I walked across each bridge and down each dirt pathway, eventually finding our way to a park bench, where we shared cup after cup of mate and of course, a bottle of white wine. We sat there for hours, munching on granola bars and fruit salad, passing back and forth a cup of mate and eventually making sangria with our fruit and wine. To sit in such a refuge in the middle of Palermo was such a peaceful and perfect way to while away the Sunday afternoon...And it was a perfect reminder for me to open up my guidebook more often!