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Japanese Gardening and Agriculture

Japanese Gardening and Agriculture is quality focused.

Grapes were abundant in the Obuse town area. Their umbrella trellises never ceased to fascinate me. One technique used to protect these precious vines from the cold mountain temperatures was the use of a rice straw wrap. The farmers made a wide variety of uses for the straw that was left after harvesting the rice. One use was mulch. Another was material to use at festivals. We saw piles of carefully protected piles of the straw being reserved for the Fire Festival, and other applications.
Apple orchards were everywhere! Some were a couple trees in a backyard garden...others were square blocks in size, nestled among the homes in Obuse, a town of about 15,000 population. And on the outskirts, there were large commercial fruit orchards raising a variety of apples, persimmons, chestnuts and pears. Obuse has a growing confectionary industry based on their local bumper crop of chestnuts. These mile, sweet nuts are ground and made into a variety of paste and baked goods.
Chrysanthymums are the symbol of the Emperor and fall is a spectacular display of Japan's passion for beautiful mums of every size, shape and color.
From tiny little button mums to the large, lavishly duo-colored mum unique to Obuse town, mums are carefully pruned, trimmed, and shaped into bonsai,
cascades, balls, and
single stem display plants with one huge blossom.

But let's not relegate Japanese gardners to landscaping! Tiny patio gardens were frequently filled with seasonal color and creative trellises. These mums and pansies were just a few of the coloful container gardens seen at a well stocked garden center. While colorful ornamental cabbages are striking display accents, almost every backyard in this small community contained a vegetable garden. And there were numerous communty gardens nestled in neighborhoods, as well.

This gardener, Hashu Koyama, was very proud of the foot-long radish he pulled to take home for our dinner, and his well tended neighborhood garden was only one of the gardens he and his wife tend. They also have a garden with fruit trees and larger perennial plants nearby.

Persimmons are huge! These three inch diameter fruits are popular for drying. Many patios were hung with these fruits strung into decorative hanging displays of the harvest.
Traditional rakes were always handy to sweep up the fall leaves -- even at the most modern architectural additions to the community like this museum. These were not ordinary metal or plastic rakes... they were made from the branches of trees or shrubs. Very lightweight, they were another link between everyday activity and nature. Another way to use natural products in the care of nature.

The rich variety of gardening was matched only by the creative craftsmanship of the container, retaining wall or apparatus design to hold, control and present plants in their natural -- or artistically arranged -- beauty.

Photos: Copyright 2005-2006 Carolyn Allen. All rights reserved. You are welcome to link to these articles.

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