Japan travel blog
Koi, temples and aquaponics
Recently I returned from a trip to Japan and New Zealand. It was the sort of trip that changes you and I am now creating a new body of work inspired by the experience.
My daughter is working in Japan and we traveled out together from London to Tokyo via Moscow. I was excited and curious to go to a city I had heard so much about but never visited before. The first place we visited was a temple called Senso-ji. It was so busy, I was at first overwhelmed and disappointed because I was expecting to feel something spiritual, a sense of reverence, but I couldn’t feel it at first. I readjusted my expectations, looked up and enjoyed the astonishing architecture and admired the quality of craftsmanship and styling that I was familiar with from a lifetime of museum visits and photos.
After a while we found ourselves in a quiet garden area with a water fall and a pool with koi, and watching these majestic fish calmed and focused my mind into the moment and allowed me to become aware of the place in a completely different level. It was there all along, I just hadn’t been able to access it. The experience was more powerful once I understood. After that I sought out Koi in each temple or garden I visited, I was always so glad to find them! They were my route to finding space and peace however busy the places were.
Koi were introduced to rice fields in ancient Japan as a way of fertilising them much like in contemporary aquaponic systems. When it was harvest time, the fish were eaten and were an important addition to the diet. Before long koi were farmed in their own right and were mostly black in colour. A farmer noticed one with some bright orange colouring and bred to develop and before long these brightly coloured fish were highly sought after and prized.