Next time you are down Embassy Theatre way on Courtney Place, Wellington- pop into Deluxe cafe, grab a Havana espresso and have a geeze (visit my shop to purchase) the Moena Moxham art up for display until the 11th of October.
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I had heard about the Ritsurin Gardens in Takamatsu and was in need of some music and city life so decided to make a three day weekend adventure and exploration of the first stop on Shikoku- Japan's less densely populated fourth island. Having past through here in April on the way to Naoshima and back though again on the way to Himeji, I was intrigued to explore this area in greater depth as it felt like it had much more to give.
Takamatsu is very cool- it has a great relaxed but funky attitude- it's creative and quirky but with just enough city and island life mix. As the main port town to Shikoku there is a little something of everything. But what I have been seeking this trip is very different from the last- environment, the land, people and energy has taken top priority- and of that the more tranquil, deep and esoteric kind. Nature does it best.
Among the gardens in Japan designated as National Special Scenic Beauty, Ritsurin Garden is the largest. Construction started around 1625 by Takatoshi Ikoma, the feudal lord of Takamatsu, and took about 100 years with successive feudal lords to complete in 1745. The garden has six ponds and thirteen mounds strategically placed to use Mt Shiun as a background. Different flowers bloom all year round, changing the scenery as you walk. "One step, one scenery."
The garden also has an excellent reputation overseas. It was given three stars as the highest-rated, worth-visiting place for sightseeing in the Michelin Green Guide Japan in 2009. It did not fail to please- so much so I went back twice. It is truly stunning and very varied- each area has a unique feeling and spirit.
My friend had told me about a great live music venue down on the waterfront called AO which is part of a funky cafe called Umie and they had a live music event with a female Japanese musician called Minakumari and her friends. Made up of a sitar. guitar and harmonica combo it sounded interesting... they were SUPERB. Like mind-blowing! I have never heard a sitar or harmonica played like it- it was soul, mind and heart nourishment- see the wee video above :)
There is world class shopping, oisshiiii udon noodles, art, craft, gardens, nightlife and great spots to check out and have a gander. The pace is relaxed and I would definitely come back to Shikoku to see and explore more.
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