<![CDATA[Photographic Flow]]>https://j62460.wixsite.com/my-site-4/blogRSS for NodeTue, 18 Jun 2024 10:01:48 GMT<![CDATA[Unlocking Your Creative Flow: Photography Techniques to Capture Perfect Moments with Ease]]>https://www.shizenstyle.com/post/unlocking-your-creative-flow-photography-techniques-to-capture-perfect-moments-with-ease66281c5bc486e6f18a7ec071Tue, 23 Apr 2024 20:42:42 GMTJoshua Smith, PhDHey there, photography and flow enthusiasts! Welcome back to our channel. Today, we're diving into the captivating world of flow state and how it can elevate your photography game to new heights. Whether you're a beginner or an intermediate photographer, mastering the art of flow can truly transform your creative process. 



Understanding the Flow State 

Imagine this: You're out in the wilderness, the sun setting behind the mountains, and you're so immersed in capturing the perfect shot that time seems to stand still. That's the magic of flow state. It's that feeling of effortless focus and complete immersion in what you're doing. When you're in the flow, creativity flows effortlessly, and your photography reaches a whole new level. 

Benefits of Flow State in Photography 

When you're in a state of flow, distractions fade away, and you become fully present in the moment. This heightened focus allows you to notice details others might miss and capture the essence of your subject in a unique and compelling way. The results? Stunning, authentic photographs that tell a story and evoke emotions. 

Practical Techniques to Achieve Flow State 

Now, let's get practical. Here are some techniques to help you tap into your flow state and elevate your photography: 

Mindful Observation 

Before you even pick up your camera, take a moment to observe your surroundings. Notice the interplay of light and shadow, the colors, and the textures. This mindful observation will help you connect with your environment and set the stage for your creative flow. 

 

Visual Storytelling 

Every great photo tells a story. Whether you're capturing a bustling city street or a serene landscape, think about the narrative you want to convey through your images. Consider the elements you want to include and how they interact to create a compelling visual tale. 

 

Embracing Imperfection 

It's okay to experiment and make mistakes. Embrace the imperfections, as they often lead to unexpected and remarkable shots. I’ve talked about this in other videos but in Japanese, we call this Wabi-Sabi. Don't be afraid to deviate from the conventional rules of photography; let your intuition guide you. 

 

Engage Your Senses 

Photography isn't just about what you see; it's also about what you feel, hear, and even smell. Engage all your senses to fully immerse yourself in the moment, allowing your surroundings to inspire your photographic vision. 

 

Putting It into Practice 

Let's bring these techniques to life with a practical example. When you’re out in nature it’s a lot easier to center yourself, and nature itself is a huge flow state trigger. But imagine you're at a bustling market or food hall. We were just at the West Side Market in Cleveland so this is fresh on my mind. Instead of immediately snapping away, take a moment to observe the vibrant colors, the expressions on people's faces, and the interplay of light and shadow. Think about the story you want to tell through your images and how you can capture the energy and essence of the market. 

As you wander through the market, let go of perfection and embrace the spontaneity of the moment. Engage all your senses, from the aroma of fresh produce to the lively chatter around you. Allow these sensory experiences to guide your compositions and help you capture the authentic spirit of the market. 


By incorporating these techniques and embracing the flow state, you'll not only elevate your photography but also experience a deeper connection to your craft. So, go out there, immerse yourself in the moment, and let your creative flow lead you to capturing perfectly imperfect moments through your lens. 

I you found these techniques and exercises helpful, now the trick is to learn to access this flow consistently. And building a flow-prone lifestyle with photography is what we do over in the photographic flow community. If you’re interested, come on over and check it out on the website. Don't forget to hit the like button if you enjoyed the video and subscribe for more photography and flow tips and inspiration. Until next time, keep capturing those flowy moments! 

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<![CDATA[7 Tips for Fostering Creative Flow in Photography]]>https://www.shizenstyle.com/post/7-tips-for-fostering-creative-flow-in-photography-166265dfe289ed12ad2106071Mon, 22 Apr 2024 13:00:17 GMTJoshua Smith, PhDAre you looking to enhance your photography skills and creativity? Whether you are a seasoned photographer seeking inspiration or a beginner eager to unlock your potential, fostering creative flow is essential. Photographic Flow brings you seven valuable tips to help you unleash your creativity and elevate your photography game. 



  1. Dive into unknown territories. Venture beyond your familiar surroundings and explore new locations. Capture the essence of diverse landscapes, cities, and cultures. Embrace the unexpected and let your surroundings ignite your creativity. For me, this is what Japan provides me. Even though I lived in Japan for 15 years, I still get inspired exploring a new town or new area because I enjoy learning about the subtle and unique micro-cultures that develop in different areas. 

  2. Challenge yourself to see the world from a new angle. Explore various perspectives – from high above to down below. Experiment with unique angles and compositions to add depth and interest to your photos. Scout out a location that gets you a birds-eye view of the place first.  

  3. Master the art of playing with light and shadows. Learn to leverage natural light, shadows, and reflections to create captivating visual stories. Embrace the interplay of light and darkness to add drama and depth to your images. Being primarily an outdoor photographer, I am always looking for areas where I can take advantage of contrast. A lot of people don't like to shoot in the afternoon, but sometimes, especially if you are into black and white photography, this is when you'll get those bold shadows and contrasty images. 

  4. Zoom in and focus on the intricate details. When I say zoom in, I mean get up close with macro shots if you can. Whether it's a delicate flower petal or a weathered stone, close-ups reveal a world of beauty often overlooked. Explore the beauty in the small details and let them tell a compelling story.  

  5. Oftentimes, less is more. Embrace the power of minimalism in your photography. More and more I am aiming to declutter my photos and really give the main focus of the shot some breathing room. Simplify your compositions, eliminate distractions, and focus on the essential elements. Let your minimalist shot convey a strong visual message. 

  6. Photography is not just about capturing images; it's about conveying emotions. Seek out moments that evoke feelings – joy, sadness, excitement, or serenity. Capture raw emotions to create impactful and memorable photographs. 

  7. Photography is a journey of constant learning and evolving. Stay curious, experiment with new techniques, and seek inspiration from fellow photographers like the members in the Photographic Flow community on my website. Embrace challenges, learn from failures, and allow yourself to evolve creatively. 


Creativity knows no bounds when it comes to photography. By exploring diverse locations, experimenting with perspectives, playing with light, focusing on details, embracing minimalism, capturing emotions, and continuously learning, you can foster a creative flow that propels your photography skills to new heights. 

Let these tips be your guide to capturing moments that transcend ordinary photography. Subscribe and watch through the Creative Flow State Playlist to unleash your creative potential. 

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<![CDATA[Photography's Secret Ingredient: How Intrinsic Motivation Fuels Creativity ]]>https://www.shizenstyle.com/post/photography-s-secret-ingredient-how-intrinsic-motivation-fuels-creativity660b48b3764f391dc70486c6Tue, 02 Apr 2024 00:02:59 GMTJoshua Smith, PhDAs a photographer for over 20 years now, I know what it’s like to fall in and out of flow. There was even a time after we moved back to Buffalo, NY from Japan when I needed to focus more on starting our Japanese restaurant business so I really limited my photography to food photography and other shots that benefitted the business. I sort of began to see photography as a business tool rather than an outlet for creative expression, the way that I had previously seen it. I didn’t realize it but there was no flow there anymore. 



Through studying flow state science though I’ve come to learn that there are a number of flow triggers, 22 to be exact, that can help to put you in a flow prone environment, where you feel your best and you perform your best.  


Sit back and grab a coffee or tea and relax for a minute. I want to talk a little about the flow trigger called intrinsic motivation so you can begin to consistently access flow on your long photography journey. 

Hi I’m Josh and welcome to Photographic Flow 

A key aspect of flow is doing something for the sake of doing it. You just enjoy doing that particular thing and you don’t need anyone telling you you have to do it. We’ve all had these kinds of activities in our lives and we often have this kind of feeling of timelessness. When you are in the moment your perception of time is altered a bit and things can feel like they are really slowing down, or oppositely like we often say, time flies when you’re having fun.  


Actively pursuing those things that we are intrinsically motivated to do (meaning that it comes from within ourselves) is a way of accessing the flow state. For both ourselves and our children, if you’re a parent, we need to continue to encourage exploration and finding those things that we may one day become interested in. Lucky for us, you’ve explored and found a way to photography somehow, and there’s something that you really can connect with and you enjoy shooting. 

Whether you are starting out on your photography journey or you’ve been doing it for awhile, you need to forget about the whole idea of a comfort zone, and whether you are in or out of your comfort zone. It’s a made-up field surrounding you and the only thing it’s keeping you in it is a limited mindset. As you get more familiar with the many layers of photography your curiosity develops, and that will also help you access flow.   

So, 

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, in Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience (p.54) says that: 

“The mystique of rock climbing is climbing; you get to the top of a rock and you’re glad it’s over but really wish it would go on forever. The justification of climbing is climbing, like the justification of poetry is writing; you don’t conquer anything except things in yourself…. The act of writing justifies poetry. Climbing is the same: recognizing that you are in a flow. The purpose of the flow is to keep on flowing, not looking for a peak or utopia but staying in the flow. It is not a moving up but a continuous flowing; you move up to keep the flow going. There is no possible reason for climbing except the climbing itself; it is a self-communication.”  ―  


For me, I was first exposed to film photography back at my performing arts high school in Buffalo and was in the Visual arts program where we had a dark room. I loved the camera but I have to say that I didn’t love the chemicals and the smells, or the difficulty of accessing the room to process the photos. And really the aspect of not knowing if I was capturing the image I wanted to capture in the moment were all things getting in the way of developing an intrinsic motivation to continue down this artistic path.  

Later when I was in Japan I think I began to get closer to those feelings that Csikszentmihalyi described as “The purpose of the flow is to keep on flowing, not looking for a peak or utopia but staying in the flow.” This was when I began photographing Japanese gardens around the Kansai area where I was living. I loved to try to capture a moment of time that I was experiencing, as well as the combination of human creativity and nature. When all of these things came together the feeling was indescribable. After awhile those experiences grew and I knew that I found some photographic flow and that I wanted to keep this a part of my life forever.  

If you’re like me, it was sort of a unique subject that I was drawn to that made me want to go further and explore photography more. Now you may come from the tech side and really enjoy the details about the cameras and the lenses, and that can lead you into flow, but for me, it was really just a tool for creatively expressing myself, capturing a moment in time, and enjoying it for the love of flow.  

It can be a difficult and challenging hobby no one really starts out good at. It can take a few months of dedicated practice just to get a somewhat decent picture. But I think the challenge is also a large part of what kept me intrinsically motivated to practice and grow, and I still have a lot of room to grow.  

But I never would have really gone deeper with the camera and come to see it as my personal flow tool, if I hadn’t let my curiosity and imagination take over. I encourage all of you to let your guard down and get out there and explore your photography path. 

Flow brings more flow, I know it sounds kind of redundant but what I mean is that sometimes we continue doing an activity because we are actually attracted to the state of flow that we find ourselves in when doing that activity. And so we continue for the love of flow. 

 So let your curiosity run wild and begin to let an intrinsic motivation be your guide.  

There are so many layers to this art form so you have to let yourself be drawn to learning something new. Remember, there is no line around your comfort zone. Just do it for the Love of Flow, let your Intrinsic Motivation of taking pictures and capturing moments be your Guide. 

If you’d like a place to foster your intrinsic motivation check out our community of like-minded flow-seeking photographers like yourself at the Photographic-Flow.com. And subscribe to the FLOW playlist on my YouTube Channel to continue finding ways of boosting your creative photographic flow.  


Recommended Book: Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience

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<![CDATA[Flow State Photography: Elevate Your Shots with This Essential Flow Trigger ]]>https://www.shizenstyle.com/post/flow-state-photography-elevate-your-shots-with-this-essential-flow-trigger6609c01cc284b8122ca98dd4Sun, 31 Mar 2024 19:59:37 GMTJoshua Smith, PhDThe flow state is such an underestimated and overlooked key to improving your photography, boosting your creativity, and living life to the fullest.  



My teacher Steven Kotler has a saying: 

"Motivation is what gets us into the game.  

Learning allows us to continue to play.  

Creativity is how we steer.  

And flow, which is optimal performance, is how we amplify all the results, beyond all reasonable expectations." 


Today we’re going to talk about the essential flow trigger challenge/skills balance. 

This Flow trigger is probably the most powerful and most well-known out there so we’ll begin with this one. Flow requires us to be focused on a specific task at hand in our photography, and that can be moving around to find the very best composition and angle, or searching for the best shutter speed to get just the right blur that we’re looking for, or waiting for the right circumstances of people and cars crossing in our street photography shot.  

But we are fully engaged and paying the most attention when that specific task is slightly beyond our reach, they’ve actually roughly pinpointed the area on what we call the Flow Channel.  


The flow channel sweet spot keeps us present and centered on the present moment.  

 If your photography skills don’t match the challenge in front of you, you aren’t going to be able to enter flow.  


If you’ve been doing photography for awhile and your skills are much greater than the tasks you need to accomplish, you’ll get bored with them and stop paying attention. Oppositely, if the task is too difficult, you’ll get frustrated and quit. Either way, you won’t be in an optimal position to focus your attention. To get into Flow, the activity needs to hit that middle point between boredom and anxiety. 

Another way to think of it is that the challenge should have us become more like bamboo, in that we bend but we don’t break.  


In this challenge skills balance, we need to talk for a second about what we mean by skills. It’s often debated but there are 7 factors that routinely come up: confidence, optimism, mindset, actual skills, tolerance for anxiety, ability to delay gratification, and societal values.  

Focusing on a few here; confidence, optimism, and mindset, how you feel about your skills directly impacts how easy you think a challenge is. So it’s not the exact measure of the photography skills you have, it’s the attitude you bring toward those skills as well.   


In photography, it could mean your actual technique, ability to capture the right sharpness or not blow out your highlights etc., but as research has shown with elite athletes,  it’s as important how you feel about what you’re doing as is the actual skills you bring.  


Societal values is also a tricky one, especially when we are talking about our sub-culture in the photography world, or even deeper in your particular photograpy niche. Traditionally people like Nietzsche, Freud and William James argued that we needed to free ourselves from societal limitations if we were to have any kind of self-actualization. But I’ve found that with modernization and globalization, we are now a little freer to delve into our photography sub-culture with fewer barriers than before. Actual camera technology has also lowered the barrier of entry. It’s also why I’ve felt a need to create a community of like-minded flow-seeking photographers like yourself at the Photographic Flow website.  


The last area I’d like to touch on with the Flow Channel is the magic 5% number. We pay the most attention to the task at hand when that challenge is about 4 or 5% beyond our skill set.   

If the challenge is 5% greater than our skills, that’s when we are just pushed out of our comfort zone. This can be hard to consistently regulate ourselves though so a good teacher or mentor is often the best person to keep you in that 5% difficulty range.  


In this range, we are shooting with a little anxiety, but we are simultaneously building more comfort in these slightly stressful situations. Developing comfort in the uncomfortable is a great way to build our photography stamina. I love taking pictures outdoors, when hiking, by a river, or in somewhat bad weather conditions. This type of stress is great for trying to photograph in the worst conditions, building a level of comfort outside of your comfort zone.  


But you can’t take an aggressive jump into something that’s 20% or 50% beyond your skills just for the thrill. You won’t be able to stay in that flow sweet spot, and this is the zone you need to stay in in order to one day reach those higher goals of yours.  


So I’m not saying that you can’t have those high goals, it’s just that you need to break them down into smaller clear goals. And those smaller chunks of clear goals are within that 5% range, that can eventually compound into something much larger.  


Think about something in your photography practice that seems overwhelming, then think about how you can break it down into smaller manageable chunks. If you’d like some help with that or some other tips on accessing flow consistently subscribe to my newsletter over at my website at photographic-fow.com.   

While this challenge/skills balance flow trigger is essential, there is a step even before this surrounding curiosity that needs to be made in order to start developing your flow-prone life with photography. 

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<![CDATA[What Does Flow State Feel Like in Photography? Recognizing Photographic Flow ]]>https://www.shizenstyle.com/post/what-does-flow-state-feel-like-in-photography-recognizing-photographic-flow660740cc1da06a5306e3dff0Fri, 29 Mar 2024 22:32:13 GMTJoshua Smith, PhDWhether you are a beginning photographer or a seasoned pro, I guarantee you’ve experienced flow before. I’ve got 4 ways that we can recognize when we’re in flow, and then begin to work toward accessing flow on demand. So sit back and relax, grab your coffee or tea, and flow with me.  



At one time or another, we’ve all experienced flow, but maybe it was when you were out shooting but doing something like surfing, or hiking, or cooking. There are a number of flow activities, and the fact that you’ve been drawn to photography for some reason may be that it’s a flow-inducing activity in itself.  

When you can begin to recognize some of the attributes of flow, even if it’s after the fact, you can begin to figure out how you can recreate those flow moments when you are fully absorbed in the moment and you are feeling your best and performing your best. 

We have an easy way to remember this: S.T.E.R.  

STER = Selflessness, Timelessness, Effortlessness, and Richness 

  

  • SELFLESSNESS 

This is the feeling of when your Self vanishes.  We quiet our inner critic and the critiquing internal dialogue goes quiet. We are present but merely observing and being aware, not judging. We can hold multiple viewpoints and see them from various angles without our daily baggage affecting our decisions.    

There is no need for tips and tricks to quiet the inner criticism, biology and neuroscience do that for us in our prefrontal cortex during flow.  

I’ve realized this more times than not in my landscape photography when a state of calm awareness comes over me and there’s just a direct experience with the moment. 

  • TIMELESSNESS 

In a flow state, we have the feeling of time distorting. Sometimes it typically speeds up, or sometimes it can also slow down. When we are in this timeless “deep now” feeling, we have an enhanced awareness of the present.  

The part of our brain that keeps track of the past and the future gets temporarily shut down, allowing us to fully open ourselves to the present moment. 

 This open awareness to the moment-to-moment experience allows us to process more information accurately and faster. Sometimes when I tell my wife that I’m just going out for a morning shoot along a hiking trail, I’ll get a call pulling me back to reality, and I realize it’s past lunchtime already and time just flew by.  

  • EFFORTLESSNESS 

The feeling of effortlessness is also associated with flow. It’s not easy, oppositely it’s when your skills match the challenge at hand, but it’s just enough of a challenge that conquering it rewards you, which then motivates you to continue. 

 It becomes intrinsically rewarding, which deepens your flow. It’s an effortless and energizing exploration of the moment. In Taoism, they call this concept WuWei. 

Neurobiologically, flow creates a cocktail of pleasure chemicals that bring about these overall feelings of effortlessness.  

But this doesn’t happen if you haven’t mastered the basics of your camera first. The more you have to stop and struggle with getting the right ISO or figuring out where things are in your menu, the more you are being pulled out of flow.  

  • RICHNESS 

The fourth feeling photographers can feel in the flow state is Richness.  The flow state opens us to receive a rich and deep experience of new information. It is simultaneously a feeling of comfort and awe.  

We feel like there is this new connection to the outside world. The thing is though, we were always connected. It was our everyday filters that prevented us from fully taking in this rich and deep experience of interconnectivity.   

I would bet though that after learning what flow feels like you can relate to some of these feelings. Let me know down below in the comments if you’ve had a flow experience with photography and which feelings of STER you felt. 

 

Practice for Flow 

Now the trick is to learn how to access this state when you want to, not just by accident.  As with anything, accessing these states requires practice.  In photography, the difficulty level is pretty high so more times than not flow usually comes a little later, after you have mastered your camera or become comfortable in shooting in different settings.  

In the beginning, the challenge is too high for your skillset.  

After you’ve practiced photography for a while though and gone through the initial learning curve, you will begin to let the rules and structures go as your skills develop. You’ll begin to intuitively make decisions without really needing to think about the next step.  

This is where you will begin to find yourself in the zone more times than not.  

Until you are fully comfortable in manual, maybe setting your camera in Aperture priority mode or shutter priority mode first will allow you to only focus on composition for a session. Giving yourself a strict limitation is another way you might be able to focus enough to enter some of those micro-flow states. For example, if you’re doing street photography or in the woods, only focus on shooting images with bold shadows. Having a strict guidline will allow you to ignore all of the other distractions that will pop up along the way. And distractions kill flow.  

If you’re interested in joining a community of like-minded flow-seeking photographers come on over to photographic-flow.com.  

To start paying attention to those moments in flow try to remember the acronym STER, that’s Selflessness, Timelessness, Effortlessness, and Richness. 


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<![CDATA[5 ESSENTIAL Camera Accessories I’m Using in 2024]]>https://www.shizenstyle.com/post/5-essential-camera-accessories-i-m-using-in-202465faf25715055d05daecb9d3Wed, 20 Mar 2024 14:28:32 GMTJoshua Smith, PhDI’ve never talked about some of the camera accessories that I use on a regular basis, so today I thought I’d share what I consider as Must Haves in your bag.  

The strap I’ve used for years to carry around my heavier full-frame cameras is the:  

-Use this more when I’m thinking travel photography 

-short trips 

- with the family 

They make the Slide and the Slide-Lite, I have both...  

I’ve had it for years as they’re so durable. 

The quick-release anchors are one of the reasons that I love how all of the Peak Design products integrate so smoothly. I can take it off the strap quickly and then maybe switch to a tripod if I want.  

Which brings me to the next item: 

I have the Aluminum one which is about $200 cheaper than the Carbon Fiber, and don’t get me wrong, I want the carbon fiber, but I do love how compact and still reasonably light the aluminum one is. For me, the top 2 things I love about this tripod for travel are how easy it is to set up and the ergonomics of the ball head. I can easily switch it from landscape to portrait without having to detach anything. It’s also super sturdy. I do carry a little L-bar that I can tighten the locks if necessary, which I had to do a couple of times. But it can steadily hold my full-frame camera and all of my lenses.  

It’s light enough for me but if you really want to lighten your load when you are travelling then I’d upgrade to the Carbon Fiber version. I’m on the fence about it, because if I upgrade it would probably be to a Carbon Fiber more durable tripod specifically for landscape photography, so I’m content with saving the money here.  

I love how this allows me to walk or hike hands-free. It’s a quick button release so it’s always right there when I need it.  

It’s a tight fit on my Lowepro backpack (wide straps), but it’s very comfortable and I don’t even know it’s there, you don’t feel the clip pressing against your shoulder.  

A little on the pricey side, but I would say it’s worth it. The alternatives are much bulkier. What makes this unique is its compact size 

To back up the thousands of pictures that I take I use the Samsung T7 SSD portable drives. I’ve been using the T7 Shield recently and I love the durable rubber casing it’s in. I have a little added sense of comfort from the rubber padding when I’m hiking or traveling with it, but it does make it difficult to label it with stickies like you can easily do with the metal ones.  

It’s absolutely worth the investment.  

Up until now, I’ve used the Elements Portable HDD, External Hard Drive, but I heard a horror story from a photographer friend of mine about how she dropped her HDD drive and all of the files were gone. It makes sense, they have moving parts in it that are bound to fail at some point. So I learned from her mistake and switched to the T7. 

I always keep a sensor cleaning kit with me now. I may not take care of my gear as much as I should, but I’ve learned carrying a travel kit will save me editing time later on. Until Lightroom figures out how to remove dust spots, you’ll want to get yourself a little UES kit. It’s also a Lens Cleaner and it comes in a convenient Travel Kit: Full-Frame Sensor Cleaning Swab, Air Blower, Microfiber Cloth, Lens Cleaning Pen etc. 



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<![CDATA[Unlock Your Creativity: Join Our Membership Group Courses]]>https://www.shizenstyle.com/post/unlock-your-creativity-join-our-membership-group-courses65f6f280325a7d9483073919Sun, 17 Mar 2024 13:39:12 GMTJoshua Smith, PhDAre you looking to take your photography skills to the next level? Do you want to unlock your creativity and capture stunning photographs? Look no further than Photographic Flow's membership group courses. Our courses are designed to provide you with the knowledge and skills needed to enhance your photography skills and stimulate your creativity. Whether you're a beginner or an experienced photographer, our courses cater to all skill levels. We believe that everyone has the potential to be a great photographer and access flow consistently, and our courses are designed to help you tap into that potential. You will be guided through the process, providing you with valuable insights and techniques that will take your photography to new heights. As a member of our community, you'll have access to exclusive content, live webinars, monthly photography and flow challenges and themes, and interactive discussions with Josh and your other like-minded peers. This means that you'll have the opportunity to learn from the best in the industry and get personalized feedback on your work. Josh is passionate about photography and the flow state and is dedicated to helping you succeed. One of the key benefits of joining our membership group courses is the opportunity to be part of a community of like-minded flow-seeking photographers. Surrounding yourself with other passionate photographers can be incredibly inspiring and motivating. You'll have the chance to connect with others who share your love for photography, exchange ideas, and learn from each other's experiences. In addition to the courses, we also offer a portfolio for our members (this is a new feature we are still developing). This is a great way to showcase your work and get feedback from our community. It's a platform for you to share your creativity and receive constructive criticism that will help you grow as a photographer. So, what are you waiting for? Unlock your creativity and take your photography skills to the next level by joining our membership group courses. Don't miss out on this opportunity to learn at your own pace through our growing on-demand video library, connect with a community of passionate photographers, and access exclusive content. Sign up today and start your journey towards becoming the best photographer you can be.



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<![CDATA[5 ESSENTIAL Camera Accessories I’m Using in 2024 ]]>https://www.shizenstyle.com/post/5-essential-camera-accessories-i-m-using-in-2024-1665b0e9ea3694f054c38b2c2Sun, 10 Mar 2024 19:04:13 GMTJosh

 

I’ve never talked about some of the camera accessories that I use on a regular basis, so today I thought I’d share what I consider as Must Haves in your bag.  

The strap I’ve used for years to carry around my heavier full-frame cameras is the:  

 

-Use this more when I’m thinking travel photography 

-short trips 

- with the family 

They make the Slide and the Slide-Lite, I have both...  

 

I’ve had it for years as they’re so durable. 

 

The quick-release anchors are one of the reasons that I love how all of the Peak Design products integrate so smoothly. I can take it off the strap quickly and then maybe switch to a tripod if I want.  

Which brings me to the next item: 

I have the Aluminum one which is about $200 cheaper than the Carbon Fiber, and don’t get me wrong, I want the carbon fiber, but I do love how compact and still reasonably light the aluminum one is. For me, the top 2 things I love about this tripod for travel are how easy it is to set up and the ergonomics of the ball head. I can easily switch it from landscape to portrait without having to detach anything. It’s also super sturdy. I do carry a little L-bar that I can tighten the locks if necessary, which I had to do a couple of times. But it can steadily hold my full-frame camera and all of my lenses.  

It’s light enough for me but if you really want to lighten your load when you are travelling then I’d upgrade to the Carbon Fiber version. I’m on the fence about it, because if I upgrade it would probably be to a Carbon Fiber more durable tripod specifically for landscape photography, so I’m content with saving the money here.  

 

I love how this allows me to walk or hike hands-free. It’s a quick button release so it’s always right there when I need it.  

It’s a tight fit on my Lowepro backpack (wide straps), but it’s very comfortable and I don’t even know it’s there, you don’t feel the clip pressing against your shoulder.  

A little on the pricey side, but I would say it’s worth it. The alternatives are much bulkier. What makes this unique is its compact size 

 

To back up the thousands of pictures that I take I use the Samsung T7 SSD portable drives. I’ve been using the T7 Shield recently and I love the durable rubber casing it’s in. I have a little added sense of comfort from the rubber padding when I’m hiking or traveling with it, but it does make it difficult to label it with stickies like you can easily do with the metal ones.  

It’s absolutely worth the investment.  

Up until now, I’ve used the Elements Portable HDD, External Hard Drive, but I heard a horror story from a photographer friend of mine about how she dropped her HDD drive and all of the files were gone. It makes sense, they have moving parts in it that are bound to fail at some point. So I learned from her mistake and switched to the T7. 

 

 

 

I always keep a sensor cleaning kit with me now. I may not take care of my gear as much as I should, but I’ve learned carrying a travel kit will save me editing time later on. Until Lightroom figures out how to remove dust spots, you’ll want to get yourself a little UES kit. It’s also a Lens Cleaner and it comes in a convenient Travel Kit: Full-Frame Sensor Cleaning Swab, Air Blower, Microfiber Cloth, Lens Cleaning Pen etc. 



 

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<![CDATA[Essential Reading List for Developing a Shizen Style]]>https://www.shizenstyle.com/post/essential-reading-list-for-developing-a-shizen-style665b0e9ea3694f054c38b2eaSun, 10 Mar 2024 13:13:13 GMTJoshHere is a list of some of my favorite books to get you started in developing your own Shizen Style:

1 - Japanese Garden Design 

By Marc P. Keane 



Bonus:

eBook: Shizen Style Japanese Garden Design - Composition and Spatial Design (Ma)

 

2 - Japanese Design 

By Patricia J. Graham 

 

 

3 - Forest Bathing: How Trees Can Help You Find Health and Happiness 

By Dr. Qing Li 

 

 

4 - In Praise of Slowness or The Slow Fix 

by Carl Honore 


 

5 - Awakening Your Ikigai  

By Ken Mogi 


 

Bonus: The Nature Fix 

By Florence Williams 



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<![CDATA[sakura | 11 things you never knew about japanese cherry blossoms]]>https://www.shizenstyle.com/post/sakura-11-things-you-never-knew-about-japanese-cherry-blossoms665b0e9da3694f054c38b258Tue, 30 May 2023 19:30:12 GMTJoshAlthough sakura cherry blossom trees have spread all throughout the world now, nowhere other than Japan is it more celebrated and cherished. Here are some intriguing facts about the Japanese cherry blossoms:


Typically, they only last about 16-20 years. But certain species have a much longer life expectancy. Black cherry trees, for example, can live up to 250 years.

2) The oldest tree in Japan is over 2,000 years old.

Although we just talked about the cherry trees short life-span, there are exceptions to the rule. You can find Jindai Zakura within the grounds of the Jissoji Temple in Yamanashi near Mt. Fuji, with a root circumferences of 13.5m!


3) There is a Cherry Tree Whose Seeds Travelled in Space

Inside the same temple that holds the Jindai Zakura, Jissoji Temple, there is another interesting tree—the Uchu Zakura (or space cherry blossom). It is a bit smaller, but it was cultivated from seeds taken from the Jindai-Zakura, There’s more though. Back in November of 2009, these seeds from the Jindai-Zakura were taken into space by NASA, and they spent about eight months in the space station circling the globe. They brought a total of 118 seeds to space but only two managed to bloom. One being the Uchu Zakura at Jissoji Temple. What’s even more interestingly though, is that although a typical cherry blossom has five petals—the blossoms of this tree have six!

4) Over 200 Varieties of Cherry Blossoms

There are several types of cherry blossoms, at least 200, but different sources have also placed that number at 800 as well. With all of the cross breeding and hybridizing of species the number is hard to pin down, needless to say, it’s a lot.

This will be noticeable when you see that some are light pink, some are deeper shades of pink, and some are even white. Somei-Yoshino is the most common varietal in Japan. One thing's for sure; they're all equally beautiful.


5) The World Cherry Blossom Capital Isn’t in Japan

The cherry blossom capital of the world is actually in the US. Macon, Georgia to be axact, with about 350,000 Yoshino cherry blossom trees. Each year it holds the International Cherry Blossom Festival. While these trees are not native to the South, William A. Fickling Sr., a local realtor, discovered one in his own backyard in 1949. On a business trip to Washington, D.C., he learned more about cherry blossoms and sought out to bring more to his hometown.

6) Hanami Flower Viewing

Picnicking beneath cherry blossom trees is a Japanese tradition. The century-old custom is known as "hanami," which means flower viewing. Early records hint that the tradition began with emperors and members of the Imperial Palace feasting under the trees' blooming branches. Hanami can also refer to Ume plum viewing, although most people associate it with cherry blossoms because it’s a little later in the season when you can reserve your spot outside under the tree and sit and enjoy it all day. 7) Cherry blossoms are native to the Himalayas.

These flowers likely originated somewhere in Eurasia before migrating to Japan. Both China and South Korea claim to be the originators of the cherry blossom, which is still undetermined, but the undoubtedly the popularity and appreciation of the cherry blossom tree flourishes mostly in Japan.

8) Cherry blossoms are Japan's national flower.

The cherry blossom is Japan’s national flower and it appears on the 100 Yen coin

these pale blooms are a symbol of more than just spring — they stand for renewal and hope.

9) The flower petals are edible.

Sakura are often referred to as ornamental cherry trees, and shouldn’t be confused with cherry trees that produce fruit for eating, but, the cherry blossoms and the leaves are edible and used in many traditional Japanese sweets and teas. Salt-pickled blossoms in hot water are called sakurayu, and drunk at festive events like weddings in place of green tea.

They are first pickled and then used in recipes for mochi cakes, candies, and even cookies. You can also brew sakura blossom tea or make cocktails with preserved blossoms. The leaves, mostly from the Ōshima cherry because of the softness, are also pickled in salted water and used for sakuramochi.


10) Cherry blossoms symbolize renewal and Impermanence.

Known as "sakura" in Japanese, these pale blooms are a symbol of spring because it is a time of renewal. However, because the blooms are short-lived, they are also symbolic of the fleeting nature of life.

The association of the cherry blossom with mono no aware dates back to 18th-century scholar Motoori Norinaga. The transience of the blossoms, the exquisite beauty, and volatility, has often been associated with mortality and graceful and readily acceptance of destiny and karma;

11) Peak Bloom Time is April (maybe)

Although individual trees may only bloom for a few weeks each, when different varieties are planted together you can often see an extended blooming season. Early April is probably your best bet to view the blossoms, but the weather each year can make it difficult to plan a trip around.

The blooming season throughout Japan extends from mid-march to early May. Because of the wide range of climate, the southern area of Kyushu blooms first and then progressively blooms northward through Osaka, Tokyo, and then finally in the Hokkaido area, the northernmost island farthest away from the equator.


https://youtu.be/q1Zeph7Oxg4


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<![CDATA[6 Benefits of Drinking Matcha Green Tea Regularly]]>https://www.shizenstyle.com/post/6-benefits-of-drinking-matcha-green-tea-regularly665b0e9ea3694f054c38b29aSat, 21 Jan 2023 23:43:10 GMTJoshI’ve started drinking matcha green tea every day and it has become the perfect fit for a shizen style. If you are new to the channel, Shizen means nature or natural in Japanese and a Shizen Style is about appreciating the Human creativity and nature connection.


https://youtu.be/Z5_J0WwXFvE





For me, I was under the impression that I lead a fairly healthy life, exercising a few times a week and eating well. But then I had my yearly checkup and the blood tests came back with high triglycerides, basically the bad cholesterol. I was taking Omega-3 fish oil but the doctor also put me on a Statin, but this statin started giving me nightmares and muscle cramps. I needed to find a more natural way of getting healthier so I did more research and ended up adding in matcha to my daily diet.

So I have to say, I’m not a medical doctor and I’m not your doctor, this is just my story I’m sharing with you. But the benefits of matcha have been well documented.

It really wasn’t that hard to switch from coffee to matcha either, I did it little by little and started with matcha lattes using different kinds of milk. Dairy milk does have health negating effects on the green tea so I often use an oat milk.


Matcha has been used in the Japanese tea ceremony since the 12th century. Like many other cultural lifestyle things, drinking tea became a tradition and ritualized. Tea houses were built and beautiful Japanese tea gardens were made all in order to bring you into this atmosphere where you can slow down and appreciate life and nature. I encourage you to create this kind of space in your own home where you can sit and reflect with a good cup of tea from time to time. It becomes part of your Shizen Style when you are able to borrow from tradition and fit it into your modern lifestyle.


OK, So why Matcha green tea as opposed to some other type of tea?

It differs from other teas because it’s shade grown, which raises the chlorophyl level and which produces more L-theanine. L-theanine in part, is what causes the unique combination of feeling calm yet focused.


It’s precisely why it has been used in tea ceremony and Zen meditation practices for so long, it creates a calm awareness. With my morning or afternoon coffee I would get a jolt but it didn’t last and there was nothing calming about it.

With matcha, they take all the stems out, devein it and grind it into its fine powder making it the purest way to consume the tea leaf.


Let’s get into some of the benefits of drinking matcha green tea regularly:


#1 weight loss. For me, this is part of the reason it was recommended for lowering my cholesterol too, as lowering your overall weight can lower your triglyceride levels. Matcha improves your blood flow and provides extended energy which also benefits a workout.

But matcha has EGCg antioxidants that when combined with caffeine, they work together to naturally boost your metabolism and increase the number of calories you burn on a daily basis. Matcha uses fat as an energy source.


#2 Energy without the Jitters. As I mentioned before, the combination of caffeine and L-Theanine provide a boost but with an overall smooth finish without a crash. There are no nervous shakes so it keeps you in rhythm throughout the day without the ups and downs.


#3 Immune Booster. Matcha has an antioxidant in it called EGCg which boosts the immune system by effectively fighting and protecting your body against various bacterial and viral infections.


Matcha Green tea also has the highest antioxidant rating of all major superfoods, and the ORAC test proves it.


#4 Calm Awareness. Your concentration, focus and clarity are enhanced with the combination of caffeine and l-theanine. L-theanine increases the production of alpha waves in the brain and alpha waves encourage relaxation and a profound feeling of mental clarity. Your awareness is boosted and you are in an alert state of mind – similar to a state of meditation or yoga practice. In Japanese they call it Zanshin, a calm awareness.


#5 A Healthy Heart. Matcha green tea in particular, even over other types of green tea, has shown to protect you from a heart attack or stroke. Of course there are other steps to take in keeping your heart healthy and lowering your risk of heart disease, but for me watching my sugar intake has been huge. There is so much added sugars in our foods these days, and when talking about matcha lattes I always lean toward an oat milk with lower calories and sugar.


#6 Brain Performance. Studies have shown that matcha causes improvements in attention, reaction time and memory. These cognitive tests were assessing attention, information processing, and a variety of types of memory and recall.


Really, these are only a few of the many benefits that matcha green tea provides. They far outweigh the negative that you may have kicking around in your head, the bitterness or vegetal taste.


In the beginning I also thought that it was too bitter, but I realized that I was making it too strong. I also started to enjoy it more when making oat milk lattes with it and also experimenting with it in my protein shakes and other smoothies. In essence, slowly I got used to it and learned to love the taste and appreciate the subtle differences in the different grades of matcha and the different flavors produced in the 3 main tea growing areas in Japan: Uji, Shizuoka, and Kyushu.

I have found that matcha complements my Shizen Style very well and keeps me in a pleasant state of calm awareness. With more regular exercise and daily matcha drinking my cholesterol is down and I feel great. I encourage you to experiment with this natural elixir and if you’d like to go deeper on the meaning of Shizen check out my video here.

At ShizenStyle we promote living a shizen, or natural, lifestyle in a way that blends with these modern times. What is Shizen? Read more about it here.

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<![CDATA[Sanzenin Temple and Japanese Garden in Kyoto | A Lesson in Patience and Slowing Down]]>https://www.shizenstyle.com/post/sanzenin-temple-and-japanese-garden-in-kyoto-a-lesson-in-patience-and-slowing-down665b0e9ea3694f054c38b299Wed, 18 Jan 2023 11:00:49 GMTJosh“Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson


Japanese gardens have taught me a thing or 2 about patience and slowing down. When we are in these spaces of calm, we are more reflective and intuitive.



We drove about an hour and a half from our home in Fukui to Kyoto, along the Sea of Japan and lake Biwa, then weaving our way through the mountains until we reached the outskirts of Kyoto, an area called Ohara. There lies a hidden gem of a Japanese garden called Sanzenin.

It was originally established as a hermitage by Saicho and is part of the Tendai sect of Buddhism.


There are 2 main gardens with one being “Shuheki-en” which can be viewed from the veranda, and the other being a pond-strolling garden called “Yusei-en.” This part of the garden is filled with carpets of moss that have been taken care of for centuries.



They say there are over 2000 species of moss in Japan alone. As I wandered through the moss garden, I could see a few gardeners tending to the meticulous weeding and cleaning of the garden. The pride they took in caring for this slow growing moss was admirable.


Many of us want a moss garden, but do we really have the patience to allow it spread and weed it to let it shine?


Throughout the garden you can see many hidden guardian deities with child-like faces called Jizo. These Jizo statues among the moss are part of what make this temple and garden unique.


How much time and energy do you have for your garden?


Native species tend to require less work. Often with less watering necessary as well because the species is already adapted to the environment. We often want that exotic look but a more natural Japanese style garden is probably also going to fit your space better.



Things take time and you learn from gardening that you can’t rush nature. You can plant tree or shrub, water it and care for it, and even though sometimes the plants are highly pruned and shaped, it takes time to become something. You have to enjoy this process.


The Japanese garden forces you to pay attention to the different seasons which often pass by unnoticed. Each season brings with it a different demand on the garden, whether it be pruning time or cleanup, adding a new shrub or wrapping it for winter.


An investment in your garden is an investment in yourself. When you spend time in the garden you are allowing yourself to unwind from the distractions of the world, but at the same time you are connecting with something bigger than us, something outside of ourselves.



The same could be said about any type of garden I guess, but it’s the Japanese garden that draws me in and creates a space where I can stroll through or sit and contemplate life, art, imagination. It’s places like this that cause me to slow down, and I’m often left with a spark of creativity.



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<![CDATA[Exploring the Japanese Concept of Yugen | Mysterious Beauty ]]>https://www.shizenstyle.com/post/exploring-the-japanese-concept-of-yugen-mysterious-beauty665b0e9ea3694f054c38b298Wed, 11 Jan 2023 23:42:31 GMTJoshOne of the things that has always drawn me to Japanese aesthetics is their appreciation of beauty. Japan has shown me that it’s ok to create spaces in your life, like in your home and garden, or your artistic endeavors, places where you can allow yourself to appreciate beauty.

All of these photos were taken near our home in Fukui, Japan. The countryside here is filled with what I would consider Yugen Landscapes.



The world tells you to always be hustling, always be productive and efficient, but Japanese aesthetics allow you to slow down and take time to appreciate what’s in front of you, it gives you the breathing room to bring this space, or philosophy, into your everyday life.

Although Yugen is interconnected to some of the other concepts like wabi sabi and shizen, it does have its own meaning, even though the meaning can depend on context, and words don’t always convey the true meaning of it.



In its traditional philosophical definition, yūgen meant "dim", "deep" or "mysterious." In Japanese poetry it was used as a way to describe something that was subtly profound from things that were vaguely suggested.


It isn’t something otherworldly though. Yugen uses suggestion and imagination to take you beyond what can be described with words.

Zeami, the creator of the dramatic Noh theater, often used nature as metaphors for Yugen:


“To watch the sun sink behind a flower clad hill. To wander on in a huge forest without thought of return. To stand upon the shore and gaze after a boat that disappears behind distant islands. To contemplate the flight of wild geese seen and lost among the clouds…” ~Zeami Motokiyo


Yugen is experiencing the world we live in, in the moment, with the aid of a cultivated imagination.



I want to encourage you to create that space where you can take time to appreciate beauty. Think about how you can add yugen and its ‘hidden beauty’ to whatever you are creating, whether it be a garden or landscaping, a painting, your photography, music...


Where do you find beauty in the indistinct?



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<![CDATA[The Importance of Spatial Design in Japanese Gardens | 5 garden design elements ]]>https://www.shizenstyle.com/post/the-importance-of-spatial-design-in-japanese-gardens-5-garden-design-elements665b0e9ea3694f054c38b272Sun, 04 Sep 2022 13:01:53 GMTJoshArtistically what we might call negative space is an often overlooked defining characteristic of the Japanese garden. First, I’ll go over the importance of understanding the concept of Ma and then I’ll get into 5 specific spatial design principles used in Japanese gardens.

Space is just as important as the trees, the rocks, or water when it comes to Japanese aesthetics and how it affects Japanese gardens.



In Japanese they call it “Ma”, and it’s the gap between something, or the pause when talking about music, and in art it refers to the negative space.

I learned long ago in Sumi-e black ink painting classes that I was taking at the Kansai Foreign Language University in Osaka that the areas that you don’t paint are just as important, if not more important, than what you do actually paint. In shakuhachi bamboo flute music you learn the importance of Ma, or the pauses between the notes, and begin to understand that this is an important way to both express your yourself and create a mood. It’s "the silence between the notes which make the music."

My wife Satomi does Ikebana flower arranging and in Ikebana they say that the space around the flowers and branches is considered to be equally as important as the flowers and plants themselves, and ideally there is a harmony and balance between the two. The same can be said for the pruning of Japanese maples or pines in the Japanese garden, as well as how they intertwine with the whole garden scene.

Ma is essentially a concept of emptiness, a key concept in Buddhist thought. This emptiness is not a lack of something, but should be thought of as a connecting spot. In a Japanese garden this is the place where the lines between human creativity and nature get blurred. Space is a place of interconnectivity, coexistance, and changes and movement occur.

What I mean by this is that this negative space is where the garden designer, nature, and the viewer can all comingle. The designer provides a space for the viewer to pause and participate in the garden experience. As the garden designer, it’s your job to create these suggestions and places where the viewer can use their imagination, and ultimately have a more deeper, personal relationship with the garden.


Great Japanese gardens avoid the cliches and focus on creating a relationship between the designer, the viewer, and nature. Nature and your setting also comes into play and therefore sometimes you see very minimalistic gardens where the negative space is really highlighted.

Here are a few design techniques that you’ll often see in Japanese gardens and that you should also take into consideration if you’re planning your garden.


Defining the Space and Enclosing it

It is often very clear when you are in the garden by the use of walls, fences, thick hedges etc. Shakkei, or borrowed scenery may be used sometimes as a nice backdrop of a mountain or a temple in the distance, and this adds to the garden viewing, but there isn’t really any confusion as to where the garden area begins and ends.



The enclosure creates a frame for the garden, a way of displaying your work of art. Sometimes it’s out of practicality when the garden is in a city setting, but even when it’s not it’s a good way to control the viewer’s focus. If you have a forest behind it, without defining the area it will get lost in the abyss of the wild nature backdrop. This is especially true if you are going for a Karesansui dry rock garden or trying to create a miniaturized scene.

Gates and Paths

Along with defining the garden space comes a gateway into the garden and pathways that direct the viewing experience. Actual gates may be used but something like a pergola or other defined entryway works great for symbolizing you are now entering a different space. Tea gardens in particular often have a few layers of depth to their gardens where you may enter a few gates along winding pathways. The garden paths allow the viewer to participate in the garden experience, but the designer is ushering you along in a very prescribed manner. With each turn or entry way a new garden scene has been planned.

Ma as a Pause in Time

Take the time to stop and observe that space between solid objects. Pay attention to how much space is given between 2 rocks or a sculpted pine and a tamamono dome shaped azalea. You’ll notice that each object is given enough breathing room to connect with the other objects in the scene or often stand alone.

As you are observing the emptiness between objects in the garden scene you may also be provided a garden bench or specific viewing are to stop and really reflect on it. This creates a space for the viewer to literally have a pause in time and reflect on their connection with the garden and how the different items connect with each other.

Suggestion and Imagination

A good use of Ma should spark curiosity and leave the door open for individual interpretation. You can literally think of the door as being the frame, or the Ma, and the emptiness within it as representing possibility and light on the other side. Garden items like boulders, trees, lanterns, winding pathways etc. should all be designed in a way that subtly suggests things to the viewer allowing them to complete the idea in their own way.

Gardens sometimes lean toward more natural or more bold, but you need to find your own Shizen or Natural balance and style. Don’t forget the human creativity part of the design and your arrangements should stimulate the viewer’s imagination. Dynamic rock groupings or using a seemingly unrelated item in the garden may be a unique way to to spark imagination. And if you find that something is too distracting remember that a garden is a living work of art that can always be changed.


Asymmetrical Balance

A very important idea for Japanese composition, whether it be in Japanese garden design or photography, is asymmetrical balance. It is probably the most differentiating design technique between the East and West. You only have to compare a picture of a Japanese garden to that of the gardens at Versaille to realize how different of an approach they are taking and the spatial concepts that inform them.


When you see grouping of odd numbers like 3, 6, and 9 the scene is more dynamic and natural. Try to avoid a symmetrical balance where 2 objects are just parallel to each other, this often rarely happens in nature and therefore creates a somewhat awkward or contrived space. This also creates an off-centeredness that is prevalent in Japanese gardens. Rarely is there one dominant focal point standing proudly alone, but there is Ma between different areas to allow the viewer to take in different moments of time.

Sorry if I was a little too philosophical today but Ma in general is both aesthetic and philosophical. It’s hard to describe the emptiness or a void, but if you just start paying attention to the emptiness in a garden scene you’ll start to realize how the design has focused your attention on certain items. Don’t overlook that important breathing room in a garden design.



If you liked this video be sure to check some of my other video in my Japanese garden playlist.

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<![CDATA[keys to japanese garden composition | hira-niwa or "flat gardens" ]]>https://www.shizenstyle.com/post/keys-to-japanese-garden-composition-hira-niwa-or-flat-gardens665b0e9ea3694f054c38b271Sun, 04 Sep 2022 00:44:20 GMTJoshToday I’m going to talk about how we can gain some insight into balance and composition in Japanese gardens through looking at Hiran-Niwa Flat Gardens.

This style of garden shows how the dry rock gardens, or Karesansui, have continued to developed over time, as they start to employ characteristics from the tea garden as well.



The key point to this style of Japanese garden composition is balancing the flat horizontal plane with the upright volume of pruned shrubs and trees, rocks, and other garden ornaments. The designer is aiming to create layers of depth, which has a lot to do with the Japanese concept of Ma, or spatial design, which I have a whole video on if you haven’t checked it out yet I recommend watching that one after this video.


Hira-Niwa flat gardens were originally more of a residential garden and could also be seen next to temple residence halls, but without the strong spiritual symbolism used in Zen dry rock gardens. The minimalism used in this style of garden is a calming and pleasing one that also introduces more plant varieties toward the back of the garden scene, framing it.

Accents of garden ornaments like lanterns, pagodas, stepping stones, water basins etc. Can often be seen as bringing some human creativity and structure into the garden composition. For this time period (Edo Period, 17th – 18th centuries) it was really the first time you started to see Japanese lanterns, water basins, and stepping stones introduced into the Japanese garden through decorating rustic Japanese tea huts borrowing characteristics from tea gardens.

The flat areas in the foreground are usually made of gravel, sometimes sand or pebbles also, that symbolize water and movement, often being racked into various patterns. The designer controls the viewers flow of attention with the lines created by raking the patterns. This often represents the vast ocean or lake with shrubs pruned in the tamamono mound or dome style representing hills and mountains in the distance.



Hira-Niwa flat gardens also often, but not always, make use of background scenery, what they call shakkei. This borrowed scenery is often a beautiful mountain or maybe a temple in the distance. You can see it just over the top of the wall or hedge that defines the boundaries of the actual garden, again adding another layer of depth to the scene.


Another characteristic of this type of garden is that it is often seen from one viewing point. Unlike the kaiyu-shiki strolling gardens or tea house gardens with winding pathways, the viewer enjoys this garden from a specific viewing area or side. This type of garden is often viewed from a veranda, or engawa, where you have long shoji doors that open up to see the garden. So it’s not exactly one static viewing point, you can still see the garden from different angles, just not a 360 interactive view.


Think of it like you are creating or seeing a landscape painting. Compositionally there are things you can do to create that necessary depth and layers needed to spark the viewers imagination. Sometimes “islands” of moss or rocks are used in the foreground to create that depth. By focusing the composition on its basics of flat planes and volume structures you can see a relationship to minimalism, cubist art, and a natural modern style of Japanese garden.


The one problem that I have seen is with the maintenance of this style of garden. I can see why it evolved in residential areas where there are less tree leaves surrounding it. The cleanliness and simplistic beauty that holds this style together becomes completely undone when the flatness is broken up by weeds growing up from underneath it and leaves falling or blowing on it. I did a version of this as a display garden at our old garden center but eventually changed the style because the maintenance was overwhelming with all of the maple and elm trees towering nearby. You really have to take into consideration the surrounding environment for this type of garden to work.



If you’d like to go deeper on the aesthetic and spatial aspects of Japanese garden design watch my video on The Importance of Spatial Design in Japanese Gardens.

This is all a part of my Shizen Style, so I hope you can take something from this and find your own creative and natural style.

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<![CDATA[Front Yard Japanese Garden Landscaping]]>https://www.shizenstyle.com/post/front-yard-japanese-garden-landscaping665b0e9ea3694f054c38b2b8Thu, 27 Jun 2019 21:17:59 GMTJosh

Front Yard Japanese Garden

Many people are drawn to the Japanese garden for a variety of reasons. Some love the tranquility and serenity of the garden, some see it as a place to relax and contemplate, others love the beauty of balancing art and nature. Whatever your reasons for appreciating a Japanese garden are, there are a few unique things to be aware of when thinking about designing a Japanese garden your front yard.

A few things to take into consideration when planning your front yard Japanese garden landscaping are:

  1. Does it blend with the house?

  2. Japanese garden Viewing Angle

  3. Type of Japanese garden to choose

  4. Hardscaping

  5. Water feature

  6. Simple and minimalist or miniaturized scene?

  7. Privacy and relaxation or display garden



The first thing to do is look at actual front yard Japanese garden landscaping in Japan.

Often times there is very little space, sometimes even only a 3’ x 6’ space that we wouldn’t even consider as a possible garden space. 

  1. Does it blend with the house?

Depending on what type of neighborhood you are in curb appeal may be a factor in deciding your Japanese garden style. If you live in a city or suburban setting you may have many houses close by each other or homes that were built by one home builder in a fairly similar style. The first thing is to keep in mind that this is for you and should be a look and feel that inspires you. You can always be extravagant but you might want to also see if there is a way to allow it to blend with a house.

In Japan the houses are often built lower to the ground with a large window to view the garden from inside. These floor to ceiling windows often open, like a large sliding door, and sometimes open to a veranda that overlooks the garden.

If there is a way to include shrubs and trees as a buffer to the neighbors house you may better be able to build a garden that can blend with your house. The basic thing is to envision the design with the house as a part of it. Just transplanting a small Japanese garden and plopping it in the middle of your front yard will most likely not flow well with the overall look with the house in the background. Having it closer to the house or in a corner of the yard may give it a more solid background from which it can be anchored.

  1. Japanese garden viewing angle

One key point is that the garden is usually designed at eye level with the prime viewing spot from the veranda living room. However, many western homes are just not built this way so it may need to be custom built or positioned slightly different. You could still have a main view from a porch which would then give it a similar view point.

Designing the garden with only one viewpoint proves problematic then for people who will inevitably view your house from the street passing by or pulling up to the house in the driveway. Part of the issue has to do with the fact that Japanese gardens often have a backdrop defining their space, such as a solid wall or row of shrubs. Therefore if you are going to have it in your front yard it might look nice on the side of the yard with some type of backdrop on the border of your property line.

  1. Type of Japanese garden to choose

Researching various Japanese garden themes will also help you define and your look and find a garden style that can flow with your home and overall front yard look.

Dry Rock Gardens – these gardens can create a garden of contemplation with a variety of sizes of gravel and boulders mixed together. Stone settings in asymmetric and odd numbers is a great way to create a more natural looking scene. Dry rock gardens, or karesansui in Japanese, are sometimes referred to Zen rock gardens but this is something we have attached to the name. Dry rock gardens can be found in a number of different gardens throughout Japan without any relationship to Zen.

Kyoto Rock Garden

Kyoto Rock Garden

One thing to be careful with when designing a rock garden is to not have too many trees which lose their leaves nearby. This can drastically add to the cleanup you will have to do a few times a year.

Tea Gardens – these gardens are often much more dense with various evergreen trees and shrubs. Often the trees are thinned out on the lower part of the tree which allows you to see more, creating an airy feeling, but still maintaining a canopy of leaves. Think shade garden or woodland garden with a few elements like a tsukubai water basin, Japanese lantern, and bench. 

Courtyard Garden – this garden style may provide some inspiration for a landscape scene, however they are usually created in an enclosed setting making it harder to recreate in a larger more open space. If you had a corner where 2 fences meet that could work well, but you have to take into consideration the viewing distance. Courtyard gardens are sometimes in the middle of the home and meant to be viewed from only a few feet away. If you are planning your front yard garden what will this look like from 50 or 100 feet away on a sidewalk?

Kaiyu-shiki Strolling Garden – this style can also give you some great ideas because they are often done on a grand scale. Man-made hills, or tsukiyama, and boxwood or azalea mounds can create some elevation changes that are often found in Japanese gardens. Traditionally these gardens have strolling paths around a large pond but you need to be careful with ponds in the front yard and liability.


Hardscaping

Hardscaping is something we forget about when thinking about gardens, but a balance of living things and solid surfaces and items can do wonders for a garden. Things like dry rock gardens, stepping stones, lanterns, benches, a small patio etc. are all considered hardscaping that you can add to a nature scene. Stepping stones over to a bench will give you a new sitting area and nice look to your garden.

  1. Water feature

Some type of water feature could be a nice touch but you may need to check with local ordinances about having a pond in the front yard. There are liability issues with having something like a koi pond without a fence, even though it’s on your property you could be held responsible if someone falls in or hurts themselves. That being said, a koi pond isn’t your only option.

I have installed self containing waterfalls where you get the beauty of a flowing waterfall coming over the boulders yet the water doesn’t pool up and gets recycled over and over again. If you strategically hide where the water is going you can also create a dry rock stream bed that symbolizes a flowing stream.

A dry rock garden can even bring about the illusion of water without any actual water. Or something like a tsukubai water basin or Japanese ceramic pottery bowl placed in the garden can hold still water that you place a few seasonal leaves in to connect it with nature and the current season. A deer scare is another type of flowing water often coming out of a piece of bamboo that fills up with water and tips over, making a tiny knocking noise that is meant to scare the deer away.

  1. Simple and minimalist or miniaturized scene?

Looking at modern Japanese gardens may also inspire you with a minimalist yet functional design. Contemporary homes in Japan often do not hav e the luxury of space so many of the gardens are trying to make the best use of their space by creating a modern Japanese style garden that can still be used, with a patio added for example. Simple touches of Japanese elements may flow with your landscape and home more than a miniaturized scene.

modern japanese garden

modern japanese garden

Making use of less variety of shrubs and trees but using more of the same species can create a unified theme. Some people even create a unique garden by sticking to one type of tree, like using evergreen shrubs and only white birch for example.

Privacy and relaxation or display garden

On a similar theme, you should decide if this garden is going to be a sort of sanctuary for you or a display garden that you and others will be able to enjoy from a distance. If you are looking for a refuge for relaxation or privacy you might be better off thinking about another area surrounding the house, like the side or backyard, where you can build it with more seclusion.

When you think of the overall theme of your garden you should plan it out from the beginning all at once. When you are in one train of thought then you can design something cohesive. You will often end up cluttering and chopping up the flow if you add on to the garden little by little. Of course you can build the garden in stages, even over the span of a few years if needed to gather funds etc. but an overall goal should be strived for. Even when you reach that goal the garden is a living thing, never static, so it will inevitably change a little year after year. But throwing in a lantern or adding a bridge every time you see one in another Japanese garden will inevitably ruin your flow.

Front yard Japanese landscaping can be accomplished but there are a few unique problems that come along with this type of garden design. You can however have a successful garden if you keep in mind some of the things I mentioned in this article.

Another article you may like that is related to this is my Complete Guide to Small Japanese Gardens. You can also visit us at ShizenStyle where we have a number of articles and videos guiding you through many different styles of Japanese gardens. 

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<![CDATA[The Best Japanese Gardens in Osaka, Japan]]>https://www.shizenstyle.com/post/the-best-japanese-gardens-in-osaka-japan665b0e9ea3694f054c38b28eSun, 28 Apr 2019 23:42:29 GMTJoshOsaka is an often-overlooked area for Japanese gardens and traditional culture, but having lived there for so many years I thought it was worth sharing an insider’s list the best Japanese gardens in Osaka, Japan.

There are definitely more gardens out there, and I may add to this list as time goes on, but this is a comprehensive enough list to get you on your journey of exploring the essential places.

Most of these gardens are spread out so it will take some train or subway planning to visit them. I have found that I end up appreciating a garden more though if I make a day of visiting that surrounding area as well and get a feel for everything altogether. It is too easy to become templed out or gardened out in Kyoto where you see one after another on a small walking trip.

  1. The Japanese Garden at Expo Park – (Banpaku Koen万博記念公園)

A short trip to northern Osaka let’s you explore a large strolling Japanese garden which features a variety of Japanese garden styles throughout. These gardens are rather newer, being


completed within the last 50 years, at Expo Memorial Park for the World Expo of 1970.

They are designed to introduce foreigners to a variety of Japanese garden styles and feature 4 different styles that blend together. Taji Rokuro is the designer of the Japanese garden and it covers 64 acres of land, much larger than most gardens. It is a Chisen Kaiyu-shiki style garden meaning that it is a strolling garden that meanders around a large pond in the middle.

There is a large building with many seats under a veranda that over looks the large pond. This is a great place to take in the view of the garden, the pond, and the tsuki-yama man-made hills in the background. There also 3 teahouses in the garden but only one is open all year yound. The other two open in November for the Momiji Maple Viewing that takes place in autumn, which is a great time to visit the Expo garden.

How to get to the Japanese Garden at Expo Park

Address 9-3 Senribanpakukoen, Suita, Osaka 565-0826 Tel: 06 6877 7387

Hours

9.30am to 5pm. Closed Wednesdays. Closed from Dec 27th to Jan 7th.

Cost

Adults: 250 yen

Children: 70 yen

The ticket gets you into all of the other gardens at Expo Park.

The Japanese garden is very accessible with a 15-min walk from either the Bampaku Kinen koen or Koen Higashi Guchi Monorail stations.

  1. Keitakuen Garden

This Japanese garden is located right near Tennoji Station and is directly behind the Osaka City Museum of Art and the Osaka Tennoji Zoo. This garden was the residence of the wealthy Sumitomo Family in the Taisho era and is a Chisen Kaiyu-shiki style of strolling garden with a pond in the center.

The Museum, which was originally the residence, was donated to the city and has a great view overlooking the large garden. A famous garden designer called Ueji, or Jihei Ogawa designed it. He was known as the Japanese garden pioneer who brought a wave of modern style Japanese gardens.

How to get to the Japanese Garden at Expo Park

Address 1-108 Chausuyamacho, Tennoji-ku, Osaka (Tennoji Park)

It is a 5-minute walk from all of the Tennoji station lines.

  1. Daisen Koen Japanese Garden

Daisen Koen Japanese Garden

Daisen Koen Japanese Garden

Daisen Park Japanese Garden (大仙公園 日本庭園) is located in Southern Osaka in the city of Sakai. This beautiful Japanese strolling garden is on the same grounds as  Daisen Park and Daisen Kofun (tomb). It is a very large Japanese garden with a variety of different styles of Japanese gardens throughout. It takes about an hour to walk through the entire place.

This type of garden is a Kaiyu-shiki style Japanese strolling garden. Technically it is a “Tsukiyama Rinsen Kaiyushiki” with “mountain” hills, a pond you can stroll around, waterfalls, bridges, and often a flower or bonsai exhibit depending on what time of year you visit.

For more information on this Garden check out my article here.

How to get to the Japanese Garden at Expo Park

Address 590-0820 Daisen Park, Daisennakamachi, Sakai-ku, Sakai-shi, Osaka

It is a 15-minute walk from Mozu Station.

  1. Gokuraku Jodo (Shitennoji Temple Honbo Garden)

Fudaraku Stone Garden

The Japanese Garden in Shitennoji Temple is called the Gokuraku-Jodo Garden, or the Garden of Paradise and is nestled right in the downtown area of Osaka. A flea market is famous on the temple grounds one weekend a month also.

This garden features a path that wanders through a variety of styles of gardens, including a pond and waterfall, teahouses, a larger pond, a dry rock garden called “Fudaraku Garden” etc. This is an often overlooked Japanese garden but one that should not be missed. There are a few teahouses and one is usually open to the public where you can sit down and enjoy some tea and a Japanese snack.

You can check out a more in-depth article with pictures and also a video here.

How to get to the Japanese Garden at Shitennoji Temple

Address Shitennoji Temple Honbo、〒543-0051 Osaka, Tennoji Ward, Shitennoji, 1 Chome−11−18

It is an 8-minte walk from Shitennoji Yuhigaoka Station.

  1. “Shishiku-en” at Minami-midou Temple Garden

This Japanese garden is smack dab in the middle of Mido-suji, a main street in downtown Osaka. It is part of a Shinshu Buddhist temple and features a Karesansui rock garden and small pond called “Shishikuen.”

At the end of the Edo period it is believed that the famous poet Matsuo Basho built this garden and wrote a few poems here. It has sort of become sacred grounds to poetry lovers across Japan.

How to get to the Japanese Garden at Minami-Midou

Address:

Nanba Betsuin (Minamimido) Temple, 4 Chome-1-11 Kyutaromachi, Chuo Ward, Osaka, 541-0056

It is a 6-minute walk from the Honmachi Subway Station on the Yotsubashi / Chuo Line.

  1. Taiko-en Garden

Taiko-en Garden

This Japanese garden was built as a luxurious residence of the famous Fujita Denzaburo, an economic powerhouse in the Kansai area. Nearby you can also visit the Fujita Museum.

This large strolling garden surrounds a pond and has a very large stone bridge and views of the garden in every season. The garden is best visited while eating or drinking at one of the their restaurants or cafes that overlook the garden. There is also a hotel attached that you can stay at.

How to get to the Taish-en Garden

Address:

9-10 Amijimachō, Miyakojima-ku, Osaka, 534-0026

1 minute on foot from Osakajo-Kitazume Station   (No. 3 Exit) on the JR Tozai Line 7 minutes walk from Keihan Kyobashi Station (Katamachi Exit) 5 minutes walk from Kyobashi Station (No. 2 Exit)   on the Nagahori-Tsurumi-Ryokuchi Subway Line

  1. “Shuseki-tei” Hokoku Shrine’s Rock Garden

This modern Karesansui rock garden was built by the famous garden designer Shigemori Mirei. He has a very unique and bold style that not everyone appreciates, but he does have a distinct artistic element to his Japanese garden style.

This shrine is dedicated to the Toyotomi clan (Toyotomi Hideyoshi, Toyotomi Hideyori, and Toyotomi Hidenaga) and resides inside the Osaka Castle Park.

How to get to the Shuseki-tei Garden

Address:

Shuseki tei Garden, 2-1 Osakajo, Chuo Ward, Osaka, 540-0002

It is a short walk from Morinomiya Station or also about a 20 minute walk from Osaka-Jo Koen Station.

  1. Kishiwada Castle Garden (Hachijin Garden)

Hachijin Garden

This garden is in southern Osaka in Kishiwada, which is also famous for a Danjiri parade through the streets. This Japanese garden, known as “Hachijin Garden” is another example of the creative garden designer Shigemori Mirei and was designated a National Scenic Spot in 2014.

You can climb the castle and look out over the city and also get a birds eye view of the Karesansui rock garden below. Mirei designs with unique stone patterns and shapes with bold rocks protruding out od the gravel. It forms a “Garden of Eight, or Hachijin” Completed in 1954, you can see the rock formations place the generals in the center and on top, and then you have the sky, wind, clouds, birds, snakes, dragons, and the tigers at the ends.

  1. Gofuso Garden

There is also another strolling garden directly next to the castle grounds called “Gofuso.” There is a new tea house built there and you can walk the garden for free. Gankou is the restaurant name and they have taken over this historical space and offer great food (they have done this in other areas as well too, like the Gankou near Kami Station, in Hirano-ku).

How to get to the Kishiwada Castle Garden

Address:

Kishiwada Castle, 9-9番1号 Kishikicho, Kishiwada, Osaka 596-0073

It is about a 10-minute walk from Kishiwada Station.

  1. Rinsho-ji Temple Garden

This Japanese garden is also in southern Osaka, Sennan, near the Kansai International Airport. It is a hillside garden built by the bold garden designer Shigemori Mirei and countains flowing mounds of azaleas.

He makes use of a variety of flowing shapes and the pond as well has an interesting shape with hedges defining the space.

How to get to the Garden

Address:

Rinshoji, 395 Shindachiokanaka, Sennan, Osaka 590-0523

It is about a 20-minute walk from the Izumi-Sunagawa Station.

I hope you enjoyed this list of some of the best Japanese gardens in Osaka, Japan. If you would like to explore more Japanese gardens or modern rustic home and garden ideas visit us at ShizenStyle.

If you are interested in some Japanese garden tools to work on your garden at home have a look at my recommendations page here.

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<![CDATA[How to Design a Modern Rustic Office that Inspires You]]>https://www.shizenstyle.com/post/how-to-design-a-modern-rustic-office-that-inspires-you665b0e9ea3694f054c38b2e0Wed, 27 Mar 2019 15:13:38 GMTJosh

A modern rustic office is a place to go to be productive, yet creative at the same time. It is a room that inspires your creativity but also brings you a sense of calmness.



The design concept of modern rustic sometimes has similar characteristics of design styles such as rustic chic, farmhouse style, or maybe cottage style. The key to this concept is finding that perfect balance between natural and rustic items that fits in a contemporary and modern lifestyle. We have different needs nowadays and we shouldn’t have to give up modern technology that makes our life easier.

At the same time, getting too wrapped up in the latest trends and minimalism can create a disconnected, sterile and cold environment. Therefore we aim to create a comfortable yet energetic and inspiring office space.

Rough Textures with Sleek Bases

Raw wood and reclaimed wood as accent walls amidst solid color walls create a great balance and work well together even though they opposites. You could have wide-plank wooden barn flooring where every board has its own individuality and have a very modern glass or metal desk. A wooden floor provides a warmth and comfort that you will constantly be in contact with, so take some time in deciding what style of wood or material and color scheme you are thinking about.

The surface of the desk needs to be clean and sleek so the base of the desk could be made of large timber or steel to contrast with the top. I tend to avoid wooden desktops because there are plenty of options for wood to be used or displayed in the office and I aim for function when it comes to a desk.

Nature inspired interior

Earth Tone and Neutral Colors

Both modern and rustic materials can both do well with a base of earth tones, solid blacks and whites or brushed metal and other metallic colors. With a base of these colors you can fairly easily create a modern rustic theme for the office.

These colors also blend well with most of the inevitable tech that will be necessary for the office. Computers, screens, laptops, camera equipment etc. all usually have a similar color palette. A rustic and rough wood looking backdrop can highlight the contrasts between the two

Not Minimalism but Quality Over Quantity

A minimalistic office makes for a great photo but in reality it is often not as functional as we need it to be. With that said, an effort should be made to start developing the habit of consuming quality items over quantity. This goes for any room in the house but especially in an office where you need to also be able to focus on your work for periods of time.

Look for handmade or rustic items that have some kind of meaning for you. Bringing in pieces of décor that are nostalgic or bring up some type of memory are the kinds of items you need around the office. If you foraged something from the woods on a hike one day or visited an antique fair and made your way through the massive amount of clutter to find that perfect item that you were drawn to, those are the kinds of things that have meaning and deserve a space in your room, not something “exotic” from Pier 1 that you found on clearance.

I mentioned clutter at the antique fair but what you have to realize is that quality is subjective. Just as you found that one thing that spoke to you, many people have overlooked it and also thought that was clutter. Those are the things that can make simple items even more important to us.

Industrial Décor

The modern industrial look of wrought iron, steel and brushed metal can go very nicely with a rustic look. An office desk or bookstand blending these too concepts together would fit well in a modern rustic space.

Industrial Decor

There are many different industrial lighting options as well so that may be a place where you incorporate some of the steel or aged iron look.

Modern rustic Office décor

Organized Chaos

Sometimes a great modern and rustic space can be designed with an organized chaos mentality. Especially if this is an office space, you are going to lean on contemporary bases that are clean and sleek and add in the rustic elements as focal points. You may have a lot of papers or digital items in the room that need to have their own clean and organized space. I would keep the natural and rustic items out of arms reach of the day-to-day workspace. Allow it to be visually stimulating but you don’t want to actually risk spilling dirt near the computer for example if you have houseplants on the desk.

Modern Rustic Office Layout

I like to think of a few various viewing spots for the different sides of the room. Depending on how much space you have I would think about two main pieces of furniture for the office; the desk and a relaxing chair or sofa. Having these two pieces of furniture across from each other allows you to create a different view from each position. You can decorate the walls differently depending on what type f mood you are aiming to create when you will be using a particular item.

For example, when I am at the computer I like to have a bookshelf or something minimalist beyond the computer to look at. I don’t like anything too stimulating or distracting because I need to focus on writing. So the wall behind the computer can have a few more interesting pieces of art or rustic materials because when I am on the small office sofa I am more in a brainstorming and creative mood.

If you are blessed to have a large window with nature views or city lights I often like to have the desk sideways and not directly looking out the window. Daytime glare and reflection from the sun is something to take into consideration when positioning a desk and computer.

Modern Wabi-Sabi

Wabi-sabi is a Japanese aesthetic concept about appreciating and seeing the beauty in things imperfect. There is also a rustic and aged element to the idea. Weathered items have a unique worn out quality that really can’t be replicated.

Modern wabi-sabi is combining this rustic appreciation into a natural modern lifestyle. If everything in the room is old and worn out then that is not an environment that is conducive for work. Having a clean and sleek base with wabi-sabi elements can be the best of both worlds. If you’d like to explore this concept more have a look at my article about Wabi-Sabi Style For You Home and Garden.

Modern Rustic DIY Projects

Part of creating your space with original items may mean getting your hands a little dirty. You can see a lot of examples of refurbished items and refinished items that you might wan tot consider tackling some weekend. Bring an old piece of furniture back to life with your modern touches can be the perfect DIY project that brings some meaning into your office space.

You could incorporate repurposed or barn wood into your bookshelves or a bench. There are a variety of benches that would be great as a piece of office furniture. Some are made from larger slabs of wood or even railroad ties, and others use rustic wood but might have a creative shape to them. Check out my Resource Page for some great woodworking plans and other DIY recommendations.

One thing I like to do is search for pictures of modern and contemporary furniture and study the lines. Maybe the back of the chair slopes out farther than usual or the base legs extend farther out diagonal than usual. Using this contemporary design you can aim to mix metal and wood or create a similar modern artistic style with reclaimed wood, for example. There are many artists and designers out there and there is nothing wrong with getting inspired by their designs and then swap out the materials for something else that might better fit your modern rustic theme.

If you would like to check out more ways you can create a modern rustic lifestyle visit us at ShizenStyle.

#naturalmodernoffice #modernoffice #rusticchicoffice #farhousestyleoffice #modernrusticoffice #modernrusticofficespace #rusticoffice

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<![CDATA[The 10 Best Autumn Leaf-viewing Spots in Fukui]]>https://www.shizenstyle.com/post/the-10-best-autumn-leaf-viewing-spots-in-fukui-1665b0e9ea3694f054c38b2b9Thu, 14 Mar 2019 19:27:29 GMTJoshPart of the ShizenStyle is appreciating the beauty of Fall and all of the scenic changes it brings with it. Large windows with views of maple trees or golden fields does it for those with homes or apartments with a view. Similarly you can bring elements of the season into your place as well if you are in a tight city setting, but even better is to sometimes plan a getaway trip. Fukui, Japan is just north of Kyoto and a little off the beaten path, which makes it one of the best kept secrets.



Koyo, or Part colorful autumn leaves, are something that are very much appreciated in Japan. The fall leaves, often referring to smaller delicate maple leaves, or momiji, are something that are on par with cherry blossom viewing in springtime. Also similarly, they can often be viewed at nighttime when certain areas around temples, shrines, Japanese gardens, and parks light them up. The bright array of colors with a black background of nightfall is something you have to see for yourself. Popular from September to November, the following are the 10 best autumn leaf-viewing spots in Fukui.

Eiheiji

Visiting the “temple of eternal peace” is something not to be missed any time of year. Fall also has some beautiful leaves that bring out a unique look to the place that will allow you to see it in a new light. Address: 5-15 Shihi, Eiheiji, Yoshida District, Fukui Prefecture 910-1228, Japan

Kuzuryu Lake (Nine Headed Dragon Lake)The last weekend of October there is a Momiji Festival of flower viewing.

Karikome Pond This is quite a difficult spot to get to but definitely worth the journey. Ther eis also a surrounding hiking trail but you get this superb view of Mt. Hakusan in the background. It’s really a one of the best kept secret fall leaf-viewing spots. Kamiuchinami, Ono, Fukui Prefecture 912-0151, Japan

Nishiyama ParkNishiyama Park is famous for it’s azaleas in spring and also it’s Momiji Festival in mid-November. You can enjoy the mountain/hill side autumn leaves but there is also a Japanese garden with a pond on top that shouldn’t be missed.Address: 916-0027 3, Sakuramachi, Sabae-shi, Fukui. TEL 0778-51-1001

Manyo Village (Ajimano-en)–You can stroll through this free park and enjoy the Japanese garden setting. There is a small museum and the area is related to the Man’yoshu, a famous Japanese poetry collection. Address:〒915-0031 55-1, Yokawacho, Echizen-shi, Fukui

Echizen Pottery VillageEchizen Pottery Village (Echizen Tougei Mura) is in a large park-like setting that has a variety of maple trees planted throughout the area. It’s a great place to have picnic in the daytime and relax in the park.Address: 50-80-1 Enami, Echizen-cho(town), Nyu-gun(county), Fukui-ken(prefecture), 916-0255, Japan

Japanese Gardens

Ichijo-dani Asakura Clan Castle Remains The famous shot to get is around the large tree above the Japanese garden remains. It’s a little rough to see the outline of the garden, but the town was burned down in 1573 by Oda Nobunaga, so give them some credit for keeping anything that long.

Museum Address: 4-10 Abaka,Fukui-city,Fukui 910-2152 Tel :0776-41-2301 Fax :0776-41-2494 E-mail:asakura@pref.fukui.lg.jp

Mantoku-ji(Obama City)There is a beautiful Kare-san-sui rock garden with a beautiful atum scene that is not to be missed. Address: 74-23 Kanaya, Obama, Fukui Prefecture 917-0242, Japan

Yokokan Japanese GardenThis nationally recognized Japanese garden was home to the Matsudaera clan. You can stroll around the pond and sit and relax in the open aired elegant house on the edge of the pond. A truly must see place to sit and view the autumn leaves. Address: 3 Chome-11 Hoei, Fukui, Fukui Prefecture 910-0004, Japan

Saifuku-jiThis great shoin garden is hillside and has some greta Japanese garden views that really come alive in fall. The colors start to change in mid-October. Light-up and peak colors are mid-November.Address: Jodoshutsuruga Saifuku Temple13-7 Hara, Tsuruga, Fukui Prefecture 914-0824 In springtime here are some other great spots to visit in Fukui when searching for the best Cherry Blossom Viewing Places.

#autumninfukui #autumnleafviewingfukui #fukuifallleaves #koyoinfukui

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<![CDATA[How to Add Japanese Garden Design Principles Into Your Garden]]>https://www.shizenstyle.com/post/how-to-add-japanese-garden-design-principles-into-your-garden-1665b0e9ea3694f054c38b2e2Thu, 14 Mar 2019 19:12:54 GMTJoshWith a topic like how to add Japanese garden design principles into your garden you need to look for natural inspiration from somewhere. A ShizenStyle approach will allow you to blend art and nature whether you have a small city garden or a large woodland garden.

· Observing a mountain and valley scene and a natural waterfall will help you capture the essence of a Japanese garden, more than relying on “featurism” with lanterns, pagodas, Buddhas…

· Observing old pine trees in the forest or wind beaten pines along a shoreline (any shore will do! Don’t restrict yourself to images of Japan. Inspiring nature is all around you if you look for it.) will teach you about Japanese pruning styles. They are sometimes incorrectly called bonsai, which actually only means “potted plant,” and a better term is “Cloud Pruning”.

· Greatly thinning trees

(especially Japanese Maples, but any tree really) is a common pruning technique used to create an airy feel and highlight the trunk and branch structure. (No mops or umbrellas allowed!)· Plantings and groupings of boulders, shrubs, and trees are often asymmetrical and found in groups of odd numbers, as is found in nature.



· Rely more on evergreen and perennials as opposed to annuals, which often have too bold of a color. · Shaped specimen trees are nice (expensive!) but whole gardens can be created with “mounds or domes” of boxwoods, azaleas, grasses etc mixed with small boulders.· Some type of background or enclosure is usually necessary to define the Japanese garden space.

Best Hardscaping award for Japanese rock garden

In the end, Japanese gardens aren’t beautiful because they come from Japan or are inherently Japanese, but because they come from a tradition that has made the study of Nature its source of inspiration. This is something everyone on earth can appreciate through their own observations of their local environment.

Studying Japanese gardens is a great way to develop your ShizenStyle. When deciding on how to add Japanese garden design principles into your garden, look through the previous bullet points for some ideas on how you can blend an ancient tradition into you modern life.

#japanesegarden #Japanesegardendesign #pruning

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