花 hana—flower

There was a big flower Expo in Osaka in 1990. The site of the Expo is now a beautiful park, which I wrote about in an earlier post.

In the park you can see the pavilions that were created by different countries for the expo. For example, this one from Korea.

It’s fascinating to tour this collection of architectural and landscaping features from all over the world, and to see how each country chose to represent itself. For example, Canada created this mini-Niagara:

Somehow on my last visit, I had been unable to find Ireland’s pavilion, and I was determined to track it down today, curious to see what Ireland had chosen to do with its little patch of Japan. Well, we found it, and I was not disappointed!

In the Ireland pavilion was a miniature version of Newgrange.

Noticing the gap over the lintel, we wondered if it “works” (i.e. is it aligned with the winter solstice sunrise, so that the first rays of sun illuminate the passage?) Reading the plaque, it seems the answer is “yes”!

At 8:58 a.m. on the morning of the solstice, the sun shines in 19 metres along the passage. I think we should try to go there on that date and experience it for ourselves!

In addition to the model of Newgrange, they had built a beehive hut, of the kind that hermit monks used to live in, and a central water feature with stepping stones, intended to evoke the story of the Children of Lir. Dry-stone walls were used for the boundary.

Of course, the various countries’ pavilions have stood for 22 years and will gradually deteriorate over time. In the case of the Irish pavilion, the stone structures have weathered well.

At this time of year, the park features a display of cosmos flowers.

In Spring, this little hill is planted with tulips, and the effect is topped off by a full-size Dutch-style windmill.


Tsurumi Park is a very popular place for photo-shoots. As you walk around, you see lots of people dressed up like manga characters, accompanied by a serious looking photographer, on their way to the photo-shoot location.

On our way to see the cosmos, we met a man cycling with a parakeet. The parakeet sat contentedly on Yuko’s shoulder while we chatted.

At one point, the bird started nibbling on her earring, but she was able to distract it with some sunflower seeds. Apparently the parakeet is over 20 years old. By the way, this Orla Kiely top is now available in Japan.

There was also a “kids’ festival” with children playing drums. They had a pretty good rhythm going, for such young kids.

Today, we saw the first sign of autumn colours. This maple is just starting to turn from green to red.

In the next couple of weeks, we will be able to experience the full glory of the Japanese 紅葉 kouyou—autumn leaves.

Over to the west of the park, we spotted a temple with this fabulous pagoda.

Note on the word of the day:

The character 花 hana meaning “flower” is also found in the word 花火 hanabi—fireworks (literally “flower fire”).

花 is a good example of how Japanese characters typically encode both sound and meaning. The top part艹 (it’s called the “grass crown”) tells you that it’s a kind of plant or herb, and is also seen in 茶 cha—tea and 草 kusa—grass, among many others. The bottom part is 化 which has the Chinese reading ka. So the character represents a plant with the Chinese reading ka, namely a “flower”.

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