This past Wednesday was the national holiday 文化の日 (Culture Day).  I spent the day with some friends at the theme park Huis Ten Bosch in Sasebou, Nagasaki Prefecture. (I don’t know how Huis Ten Bosch is pronounced in Dutch, but the katakana is ハウステンボス.)

When Tokugawa Iemitsu decided to close Japan off to most of the rest of the world in the 1600s, the only Europeans allowed to maintain trade were the Dutch, who were restricted to Dejima in Nagasaki.  So, the amusement park Huis Ten Bosch, which is named after one of the residences of the Dutch Royal Family, reflects this history of cultural and mercantile exchange.  The park is meant to resemble a Dutch town, and indeed, most (if not all) of the buildings in the park are replicas of buildings in the Netherlands.  The Dutch Royals even gave permission for  a replica of the house Huis Ten Bosch itself to be built.

The park is currently hosting the Gardening World Cup.  This was the reason the friend of a friend, a landscaper, wanted to go there.  He drove us down and we all had a blast!  Below are some of my favorite photos from this trip.

Going in.

A canal looking towards...I forgot the name of the bridge. ^_^;

Teddy Bear Kingdom!

There were many windmills, each of which had what I think was a name on it. I only remember "Slaper" and "Waker." I assume that's Dutch.

A replica of the Dom Tower in Utrecht. It was lucky those frilly clouds appeared, they go well with the frilly building.

I don't know if this is supposed to be a replica of the De Liefde.

The De Liefde was the first Dutch ship to arrive in Japan.  I didn’t know this when at the park so I didn’t think to go to the back of the ship to see its name.  In any case, I was too busy imagining Captain Jack Sparrow stealing this ship to chase after whoever has the Black Pearl at the moment.

Actually, there was a somewhat amusing moment near this ship.  As I was photographing it, 5 middle school girls were trying to figure out who would take their picture.  I wasn’t really listening to them, but I heard the general sounds of people struggling to make a decision that needs to be made in a matter of seconds.  When I turned to leave and heard one of them say 「行っちゃった...」(“icchatta” which in this case means “[she] left”) I realized that the need to ask me to take their picture was the source of their panic, so I asked them if they wanted me to take their picture.  At which point 3 of them handed me their cameras. ^o^;

When I found my friends again, we entered the Gardening World Cup area.  I won’t put up pictures of all of the 10 entries, just the ones that I liked and photographed well.  I also don’t have photos of the replica of Huis Ten Bosch (the house) because I thought it was actually kinda drab, at least from the side that we were at.  ^_^;  The theme in all of these is Peace.

Of course there was a bigger gate with the name of the event and sponsors, etc., but we've seen such photos 10 trillion times before so I took this instead.

First up, the American entry “Pax et Bonum” by John Cullen.  It represents the story of St. Francis of Assisi, particularly, his restoration of the Porziuncola.  I’ve always liked Caspar David Friedrich’s painting Monastery Graveyard in the Snow, and this garden reminded me of it. Of course, St. Francis restored the Porziuncola, whereas the monastery in the painting is beyond repair, and the painting itself was destroyed during WWII, so the atmosphere at the garden is much more filled with hope.

There's more to this garden but I couldn't really get a good shot of the whole thing.

Next, we have an entry from the U.K. by John Towillis.  When I first approached it, it had the most impact because I could tell what the theme was without reading the explanation, and its design is simple and bold.  I thought the explanation was a bit convoluted, something about humans feeling disconnected from nature but by allowing ourselves to get sucked in by it we would realize we’re a part of it.

This one is called "Resurgence Garden."

Another one I liked was “Australian Style Garden” by Jim Fogarty.  This one won Best Construction.  I thought it looked like something out of Star Trek. ^o^  The explanation was that by getting to know each other, for example, by sharing meals, people from different parts of the world could work for peace.

This would've looked cooler if the trees directly behind the structure had already turned red, then I could've taken the photo from a better angle while still getting the red-black-white contrast.

The last garden I want to share is by New Zealander Ben Hoyle.  It’s called “A Moment in Time.”  This one won the show’s Peace Prize:

The back of the banners are in Japanese.

The clock on the left marks the date and time of the atomic bombing of Nagasaki.  The one on the right has question marks, representing the uncertainty we live in as countries continue to hold nuclear weapons.  In between these two clocks were a bunch of pictures on spinning cogs, that at a set time, would align to produce a picture of a white dove.  Out of order it looked a bit creepy so I didn’t take a picture of it from that angle.

That’s mostly it.  As they were playing a waltz over the loudspeakers at the entrance to the gardening exhibit, one of my friends and I literally waltzed in and out of there.  ^o^  On the way out, I picked up some cheeses I’d had samples of earlier.


May Gouda imported from Holland and Cream Cheese from Denmark. The sauce seems to have been made in Japan.

I’ve already eaten all the gouda. ^o^;  It was soooooo good melted!

Now, we had been planning to go to the onsen town Unzen (which was created in 2005 through the merger of several smaller towns, including the town of Obama, that is, 小浜) but we dallied longer than expected at Huis Ten Bosch, so instead we just looked across the street, saw the onsen symbol ♨ on a hotel, and went there instead.  This time, there were other people in the onsen, unlike when I tried onsen for the first time in Hitoyoshi, so…it was a bit weird for me.   I definitely prefer having the onsen to myself.  ^_^;

Well, I wanted to get this post up so that when I get back from the GACKT concert in Kobe tomorrow, I won’t have any to-do’s on this blog.