There is a huge park at the end of our street.
The name of the park is Ooizumi Ryokuchi, and it’s about 1.3 kilometres long in a north-south direction, and around 800 metres wide. Within its boundaries, it offers an amazing variety of different kinds of environment and amenities: woods, lakes, small hills, gardens and facilities for various kinds of sports.
The yellow sign is in the characteristic shape of a gingko leaf. Gingko is a very familiar tree in Osaka. The main road alongside the park is lined with them, as is Midousuji Avenue in front of my office building.
First thing every morning, since we arrived in Japan last March, I go for a walk with the dogs in the park. Very often we go there in the evening too. In this way, I’ve got to know Japanese nature in its various moods, and experienced a full cycle of seasonal changes.
Yesterday evening we were out for our evening walk and it occurred to me; the one place I had visited more than anywhere else, that I had got to know and love, had not yet featured in a blog post.
So I decided to go out this morning and take some photos. Fortunately, the day was hot and sunny.
This is the main park building. It includes a covered platform built out into the lake.
In front of the park building, stretching out along the main north-south axis of the park, is an area of formal lawns and flower-beds.
Nearby is a “sensory garden”:
One aspect that I like a lot: as well as the paved roadways, there is a separate network of paths called 樹のみち ki no michi—tree roads, which also link up all the different parts of the park, but allow you to experience it in a completely different way.
Thanks to the policy of hanging signs on the trees, indicating the type of tree, I have been able to learn a lot about Japanese trees. This one, for example, is a kind of evergreen oak tree called arakashi (Quercus glauca).
Here are pine trees and camellias in bloom.
This sign shows the way to the “King Tree”.
And here’s the king tree – a largish camphor tree right at the edge of the park. Compared to the 500-year-old camphor trees in our local shrine, it’s not particularly big. But in a park of relatively young trees, it is the king
At this time of year, the plum trees are in full bloom.
There are many cats living in the park. They are generally well-fed; some people come along at night and feed the cats, although you are not supposed to.
This sign asks people not to abandon cats or dogs in the park.
While this sign warns that abusing animals is a crime.
The rule is that dogs must be kept on a lead in the park. However, there is a newly-developed area of the park (we call it the “future park”) where hardly anyone ever goes except us. When there is nobody else around, I let the dogs off for a run. Here, Shiro has crossed the fence and is exploring the real “future” park; an area that has been acquired but not yet developed as parkland.
This is the sakura no hiroba—cherry field. In a few weeks, this will be crowded with people enjoying o-hanami. But for now, a few people are taking advantage of the warm March sunshine to enjoy a picnic lunch.
And this is hitsuji no hiroba—the sheep field. In a place where sheep are a less familiar sight than in Ireland, the park has three young rams on display.
And another reminder that we have been here for almost a year: the park’s plant market will start on 17th March.
Like most of the people we see working in the park, this worker wears a “Silver Sakai” sweater. He is one of an army of “silver” workers, past retirement age, who keep everything clean, meticulously maintained and in perfect condition.
Note on the word of the day:
公園 kouen, a park, is written as 公 public and 園 a garden.
大泉 oo-izumi literally means “great spring”. In fact, however, 和泉 Izumi is a historical name for this area (now the southern part of Osaka prefecture, the portion that lies to the south of the Yamato River). So the name of the park recalls the old name of the province. 和泉 has an unusual reading, because the second character 泉 is pronounced izumi while the first character 和 meaning “peace” is not pronounced at all. Such unusual readings/pronunciations are very common in this part of Osaka.