There's a quaint English adage that goes something along the lines of "you know you're getting old when you sit outside a crowded pub and think to yourself I like what they've done with the hanging baskets". And so, each to their own, but as I walk around Daikanyama, a quiet, village like suburb of Tokyo, I often pass a home where the owner is clearly devoted to their roses. The flowers adorn the garden in front of the house and at this time of year, being in full bloom, make an incredibly refreshing backdrop to the concrete and asphalt that is the signature style of many major cities in this day and age.
This particular house though is a private home. I stroll along this street almost daily, being on the way to T-Site, the perfect in-city space to walk my dogs, and have never come across the family. Neither tending the roses nor simply around and about. The house is very well kept but the family remains quietly private, keeping themselves to themselves, as is often the norm in Japan. And then yesterday there was a little sign, in Japanese, on a chair outside their garage. The door was open and the note was an invitation for people to walk through to the hidden rose garden beyond.
And what a breath-taking garden. Itself larger than the area of many free standing homes, it was a vast array of all types of roses, every one in what must be their prime before the summer. Each was labelled with not just the name of the flower but their origin and the year they were planted, some dating back nearly fifty years. The high walls were all but invisible behind the blooms and the whole experience was one of a clear devotion to a lifetime's passion. But it wasn't the flowers that struck me so much as that, in this day and age of isolation, keeping our heads down to our smartphones and preferring to believe the world around us doesn't exist, how incredibly kind of this family to share their secret garden with the strangers walking by. Even if it is just for a day. And yes, I really like what they have done with their hanging baskets.