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Hi from Nara, Japan and Grand Island/Buffalo

Started by Josh, June 09, 2010, 01:03:52 am

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I have lived in Japan now for about 12 years and the family and I are heading home to NY this winter. I'm from Buffalo but my folks moved to nearby Grand Island so we are planning on moving near them (hence the long subject title). I am planning on taking over a garden center as a family business and would love to incorporate Japanese garden designs and features. This may be restricted to a side-business if I land a university teaching job though.

I am a Koyasan Shingon Buddhist priest at Taimadera Temple, Nakanobo, in Nara and maintain the gardens there, although I do not have any formal training such as a landscaping degree or a long apprenticeship under a professional niwashi.  I've learned from the temple and researched on my own. The temple is home to the oldest stone lantern in all of Japan, and the garden (kouguen ???) originated in the Kamakura Era and was completed in the Momoyama Era and is one of the 3 most scenic gardens in Nara. Although, no matter where you go in Japan, everwhere is famous for something ;)

I am a professional shakuhachi bamboo flute player and teacher here in Nara and will also be continuing that when my wife Satomi and our 1 year old girl Miana move back. Buffalo has a great Japanese garden from our sister city in Kanazawa that I used to play in when I was growing up. Visiting gardens here in Japan is also quite enjoyable, but for me my real interest picked up when I began to perform a lot in these Japanese gardens. Of course the temple atmosphere always helps, but the serenity of the Japanese garden seems to always put people in the right mood for appreciating traditional Japanese music also. 
Thanks for your time and I'll probably be asking a lot of questions soon.

Joshua M. Smith, Phd
Osaka University, Graduate School of Human Sciences

Taimadera Temple, Nakanobo (Shakuhachi performer, Shingon Buddhist priest)

Joshua M. Smith, PhD


Welcome Joshua,

Your path has certainly been interesting.  I hope you have a chance to build a garden of your own, and have the joy of it's nurture and creation.

I am sure we'd all enjoy garden photos you may have to share.  Perhaps some of the contributors to this may be a help in your new ventures.  If you need specific supplier information, I may have some leads for you.

Welcome home, we need more whose eyes have been influenced by the quality of Japan's garden spaces in the nursury trade.



Pleased to meet you Joshua and welcome.  Dr. Martha H. Fabrique is a local shakuhachi teacher that has helped with events in the Japanese garden here.  She might be a good contact for you in the university world?  http://www.ollusa.edu/s/1190/ollu.aspx?pgid=2379&gid=1 .

I second James' request for sharing pictures from the gardens there!


Welcome Joshua,

I would imagine that you know of Kurahashi sensei in Kyoto? I studied with Stan Richardson and him for over 10 years. It is becoming such a small world. I'm in the Dallas area. Good luck with your gardening.


george in the uk


Hello everyone,
Thank you for the warm welcome. I have many pictures of the garden but at first I thought I would post this video of the temple my father made this spring when my parents visited. Some amateur video taking with my song the "Lullaby of Katsuragi" in the background. It's probably about 15 min.

I have made 2 gardens at home, which are forever works in progress it seems, as well as a fountain and stream garden for my parents back home. There is still so much to learn though. This year is Nara's 1300th anniversary so we and the gardens here are getting a fair bit of attention. Kyoto gardens usually steal the spotlight, but given Nara's contrasting wide open landscapes these type of larger gardens have been focused on in the news a bit lately. 

Thanks Don, I'll check into that. Our paths probably passed in Sydney last year at the World Shakuhachi Festival.

Steve, a very small world indeed! I know Kurahashi sensei quite well, he is a great guy and a phenomenal player, as is Stan Richardson. Stan has a very peaceful, beautiful tone.

JamesT, thank you for the information. Yes potential supplier info would be much appreciated. I have looked into the actual plants and trees, which can be difficult given the colder Northeast area, it seems WNY is in region 5a, if I'm correct?
Any recommendations for hardscaping objects like stone lanterns and bamboo fences? Is importing common or are there any qualified makers in the States or Canada?

This post should probably have been divided into different threads. Sorry about that.

Joshua M. Smith, PhD


It would help if I actually posted the video wouldn't it. Sorry about that.


Joshua M. Smith, PhD


Welcome Josh and thank you for sharing your father's video.  It was a very peaceful way to start my morning and the temple gardens are just wonderful.  Absolutely a piece of heaven on earth.


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