Gerard Taaffe

For Gerard Taaffe's latest contributions to The Japan Times, see below:

Turning over new leaves

| Dec 26, 2002

Turning over new leaves

Time seems to fly by. With 2003 just around the corner, major housework operations are in order to enter the year with everything sparkling. Garden companies, too, will be busy cleaning up gardens. Pruning pine trees and cutting hedges, known as hagari (lit. “leaf-cutting”) ...

Aliens add to autumn show

| Oct 24, 2002

Aliens add to autumn show

Autumn in Japan is a colorful season, and not only because of the famed koyo foliage of its trees. In gardens, fields and roadsides, too, flowers burst forth as if to celebrate the return of sensible weather after the long, sweaty rigors of summer. ...

Nurturing nature in an urban sprawl

| Oct 10, 2002

Nurturing nature in an urban sprawl

At a mere 374 meters high, Arima-Fuji in Hyogo Prefecture is hardly on a par with the Kanto peak whose name it shares, but its conical shape does bear a passing resemblance. Though it’s almost all clothed with pleasent woodland, from the bare rocky ...

Trees that tower over the past and present

| Sep 26, 2002

Trees that tower over the past and present

An visitor to Kyoto’s world-famous gardens and temples could not fail to be awed by the stands and avenues of towering Kitayama sugi (Japanese red cedar, or peacock pine; Cryptomeria japonica). A native of China and Japan, this member of the Taxodiaceae (or Taxodium) ...

In praise of grass, glorious grass

| Sep 12, 2002

In praise of grass, glorious grass

Summer’s heat is lingering on, but there are hints in the air that the glorious days of autumn are just around the corner. Fall in Japan is exciting for its famed tree foliage, but the weather is also perfect for gardening — or for ...

Blooms to brighten summer's days -- and nights

| Aug 22, 2002

Blooms to brighten summer's days -- and nights

Japan’s floral symbol of summer, the asagao (morning glory; Ipomoea purpurea) is an interesting climber with beautiful blooms that has been cultivated on these islands for more than 1,000 years since being brought from China during the Nara Period (710-784). Before that, its origins ...

A wetland wonderland way out west

| Aug 8, 2002

A wetland wonderland way out west

In Tessei town in western Okayama, there is a wetland called Koi-ga-kubo Shitsugen whose range of rare and interesting flora makes even the difficulty of getting there well worthwhile. Located in the Chugoku mountain chain that runs through western Honshu, the area is now ...

Expense no object at Meiji jewel in Kobe's crown

| Jul 25, 2002

Expense no object at Meiji jewel in Kobe's crown

Though it’s neither very large nor very old, Sorakuen Garden in Kobe is one of the best-designed pond-strolling gardens (kaiyushiki-sensui-teien) I know, with many interesting features and plants of exceptionally high quality. The main entrance to the 2-hectare garden is a superb wooden gate ...

Osaka's peaceful heart

| Jul 11, 2002

Osaka's peaceful heart

In 1972, two years after the Japan International Exposition in Osaka, redevelopment work began on the site. The result, eight years later, was the 260-hectare Expolands Green Oasis, which has now matured into a wonderful parkland with a wide range of attractions and facilities. ...