I had to go twice! That is how startled I was when I first saw the Yuyen Garden. There were fish and statues and arched passageways, ancient tiles and dramatic trees. One viewing was never going to be enough.
It was some two hundred yen to go in. After walking through tables after tables of strange looking merchandise, food and other things that made you gawk openly. They appreciated that and welcomed us closer so we could touch and taste and carry away as we walked closer. Someone called out for everyone to gather together. We were expertly counted and our number surprised me again. Fourteen? So few?
Then our tour guide, a handsome fellow with a charming personality started the longest series of short explanations I had ever been part of. We had wanted to ask questions but nothing came to mind. At the front gate we learnt about the owner of the place who built it for his father and mother. Sadly, both died before the masterpiece was finished. That made us contemplate life and sadness for a while as we made our way through a narrow corridor.
The explanations went on about the wealth of the man, his position, the little known history and the sheer beauty of the place. It was a rare and reserved representation of culture. Then we were left to stare. Someone must have asked something but we were scattered now, no one heard well enough to answer. I took pictures like a leper, waiting for just the moment when there was no one in sight. Just so the building would be by itself.
I noticed flaws soon enough, as with any old building. It wasn’t polished or perfect, and neither were our photographs. Moss grew in places and leaves littered in others. The fish seemed bored with us and after a while we seemed lost in a maze. The shops outside with the strange trinkets were waiting and soon we hurried along the last part of it.
When I was out, somewhere near where others were paying to go in again, I looked back and almost cried. I lined up again, without the guide, and walked through the Yuyen Garden once more. I wasn’t sure what made me do it though. Photography? Probably. I didn’t even take good enough pictures to be certain that was the reason. I guess maybe it was the frozen beauty, like if I tried hard enough I could get a glimpse of something that was forbidden.