My recent major task is to coordinate an architectural project for an art gallery in Kyoto. There is a garden surrounding three sides of the two-storey building. Despite the small size, we still hired a professional landscape gardener to design. Before I even started to express my request, the garden designer told me, ‘The most ideal plant is the ones that flower in spring, give fruits in summer, and bear leaves that turn red in autumn. As for winter, trees without leaves have their own charm too.’ Plants respond to seasonal changes: they echo the spring warmth with blooming flowers; fruits that they bear during summer and autumn remind people of the vitality of life; the spectacular red leaves simply attract eyeballs like magnet attracting metal. Whereas when the cold winter comes, people’s state of mind is as dormant as creatures in hibernation. The garden designer does not see bleakness and lonesome in the season of inactivity; instead, he finds a unique elegance in the bare tree branches.
The beauty of cherry blossoms often comes and goes in haste; the beauty of red leaves is equally short-lived. Their glamour is momentary yet vulnerable, alluring and yet dreary. Winter is in truth as transitory as cherry blossoms and red leaves that come and go in a certain pattern. The beauty of bare trees does not merely come from the shape of a naked tree branch, but it is also a beauty that represents a certain stage of a life cycle. Any kind of emotion, any stage of a plant’s life, nothing is eternal; everything on earth is utterly a temporary phase of life.