Morikami Japanese Gardens
In the early 1900’s a group of young Japanese Farmers arrived in America and settled in what is now known as West Boca Raton, Florida. They came to work the land as they formed an agricultural Colony called, Yamato, an ancient name for Japan.
The Colony’s farming endeavors were ultimately unsustainable and nearly all its members returned to Japan in the 1970’s. One of the remaining member’s named George Sukeji Morikami then in his 80’s donated his land to Palm Beach County with the wish that it would become a park in honor of the diligence and hard work of those who founded it. Finally in 1977 his dream and wishes were honored.
I can now attest after my visit just a few weeks ago that the integrity and honor of those from the Yamato Colony have been preserved to perfection. A detailed story of this amazing place and its history, success and failures is well documented. And can be found on their web-site.
There is a story to tell in each corner of the sixteen acre refuge where beauty is bountiful. Of course I was taken immediately to a place of sensitivity within myself even before entering the main building.
On each side of the massive glasses doors I was welcomed by, New Year greeting arrangements, those of which were made of 3 stalks of bamboo set in a large pots decorated with pine boughs around its base. Red berries and ribbons added a brilliance of color, a welcoming and symbol of prosperity for the New Year to come.
Entering the great room I somehow felt a familiarity with the easy flow of simplicity surrounding me.
Rice paper walls of white and black slid open easily revealing the magic that lay beyond them.
A short movie of Morikami’s history was played allowing me a better understanding of the Japanese
culture and of my surroundings.
I had stopped briefly to ask questions of a guide who sat alone at a small desk filled with flyers and
information about the programs offered there. Within a moment, I was wisped into a small room to the
left of the main entry. There, I felt my body swell from my feet upward as though an ocean wave rolling
inside of me. My lips began to tremble, a strange quivering rippled through me as tears flowed from my
eyes. How did he know? I asked myself. Was it written on my face?
I was sitting in a room looking at a life size tea house, realizing I had just step inside of the book I had
written. My guide filled me with knowledge of the tea ceremony of Japan. Yet still I was unable to
control my emotion as I was living my own words, remembering the pictures of my mind and the
feelings that so raptured me. I found in the end that I needed to explain, what must have seemed to
him my very odd behavior, and I did! He bought the book! J
The Japanese tea ceremony, (Chanoyu) meaning (hot water for tea.) Came about when Japan
adopted both Chinese practices of drinking powdered green tea and Zen Buddhist beliefs. This
ceremony is usually given by a Tea master who has studied the art of tea making and presentation for
many years. Some study this art for their entire lifetime. Usually a tea ceremony invitation is sent up to
three months before the event. The ritual begins with the washing of hands and mouth in a Zen garden
area where water flows into a stone urn. This is the ritual of purification in the Shinto Religion of Japan.
Shintoism means the way of the Gods, honoring all of nature. Shoes are removed and the guests wait
until the Tea Master welcomes them inside. The tea is then prepared for each guest and brewed in a
precise manner and offered to each with a rotation of the cup twice to the left. The guest then drinks
and when finished the guest rotates the cup toward the right twice and returns the cup. All with
ceremonial importance and respect.
You will find a description in my book The Archer, where my knowledge was guided by Armin Hirmer in
the tradition of the Chinese tea Ceremony for which there is a slight difference in the two cultures
presentation, yet its meaningfulness remain unchanged.
From the Tea house I moved into the brilliance of the day where the sparkling sun danced upon the
many Koi and turtle filled ponds. All of which were surrounded by bonsai and perfectly groomed floral
splashes of color. The tranquility of the scenes and silence in the paths I followed led only to inner peace
and harmony at a soul level. I had stepped back grounding to the earth and heavens as
awareness, awakened my every sense, even that of my beating heart, and all in the blink of an eye.