Many from the GMG community may be familiar with FOB Anne Kennedy through the lovely photos she submits and by her always kind and thoughtful comments she contributes. Recently I subscribed to her blog Haddock and Dill, a simply fascinating personal memoir gleaned from diary accounts and a cache of letters and notes between Anne’s mother, Bonnie Belshe, and Bonnie’s parents (Anne’s grandparents).
Currently Anne is posting about her family’s life in post-war Japan; I believe the time period is roughly 1953-1954. Upon their return from Japan, Bonnie wrote a book about their journey to Japan titled Dragon-fly Land: Japan.
“…Each one has its own special feature which attracts both Japanese and foreign visitors. Some of these old buildings contain famous paintings or wood carvings enriched with gold. Others are noted for their cherry trees or gardens which are unusual in that they have no flowers in them. The gardens are made of sand, rocks and moss.” ~ Excerpt from Dragon-fly Land: Japan, by Bonie Belshe, 1955.
I am thoroughly enjoying the wealth of beautiful snapshots of Japanese landscapes and post war culture, and especially the collection of photographs of everyday life; with photos of rice fields and vegetables, wildflowers and children gathering fruits beneath a gingko trees, woodblock prints, fascinating recipes, and lovely brush and ink illustrations painted by Bonnie.
“We have been taking walks up into the mountains. We all love the walks and you can see for miles in all directions. There are several old air raid shelters left in the mountains–dark, damp tunnels. They make me shudder to look at them. From the top of the mountains we can see Kobe in one direction, Osaka the other direction & the ocean all in front of us with big ships anchored in the docks. The goldenrod is beautiful here–taller than B–and each time we walk we find some different flower.” Bonnie Belshe
Ed note: I am struck by how similar this species of Japanese goldenrod looks to our native Seaside Goldenrod (Solidago sempervirens), with thick waxy leaves, large flowers, and in its height.
“I wish you could have one of these maple trees for your yard. Some of them are turning red now and they are simply scarlet. Japan has so much beauty. No matter how shabby a house or how small the garden there is always a clump of blooming flowers. Cosmos and dahlias are everywhere. Even the vegetable gardens are beautiful–rows so straight and never a weed.” Bonnie Belshe
“Bathing is a special event to the Japanese whether it is done at home or at a resort. The body is washed clean before one gets into the bathtub. Then the bather gets into the water and soaks for a long time. It is a way of relaxing the body as well as a way of getting warm since Japanese homes have very little heat even in the winter.”
~ Excerpt from Dragon-fly Land: Japan, by Bonie Belshe, 1955.