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It also set the standard by which he measured every other place he would live in Japan, and invariably he found those places wanting. Hearn lived near the castle moat, along a dusty, pine-lined street called Shiomi Nawate. The Lafcadio Hearn Memorial Museum is also here, with a number of first editions of his works, and his writing desk. No mention is made of his brief marriage — at a time when anti-miscegenation laws remained firmly in place — to Alethea Foley, a black woman in New Orleans. Regardless, his influence on those who take an interest in the people and culture of Japan remains strong.

The house is often described as small, but I found it well-proportioned, especially given the fact that there were only two inhabitants: Hearn and his Japanese wife, Setsu. The future will know them only as dreams, creations of a forgotten art. A persuasive rebuttal to that forecast can be found in the stunningly landscaped garden at the Adachi Museum of Art in the nearby village of Yasugi, which is a worthwhile side trip from Matsue.

Clive James: ‘Glimpses are all you ever get. There is so little time’

Completed in , the museum and garden were the brainchild of entrepreneur-turned-art-epicure Zenko Adachi Its galleries house a fine collection — perhaps the most definitive one — of works Nihonga artist Taikan Yokoyama , including works by painters such as Shiho Sakakibara and Ryushi Kawabata, and ceramic objects from the hands of Kanjiro Kawai and Rosanjin Kitaoji. By all accounts, he seems to have been quite a character and a man of unflagging determination.

When he met opposition during the construction of the museum — specifically to the idea of converting an interior alcove into an opening that would frame the garden like a horizontal scroll — he fetched a sledgehammer and proceeded to smash his way through the wall himself. With such a visually commanding landscape, there is always the chance that the garden will eclipse the museum and its art collection. Wandering through its galleries, exterior walkways and patios, though, you realize how well the museum and garden compliment each other. This skillful confluence of interior and exterior forms is apparent in the Juryu-an teahouse, set in a secluded, wooded part of the garden.

Modeled after the Shokin-tei teahouse at the Katsura Imperial Villa in Kyoto, the geometric panels that form the interior, flow naturally into the sinuous lines of the surrounding tea garden. Teahouse visitors pass by a number of undulating green mounds. If the spirit of the Irishman revisited his beloved Matsue, the chances are he would find at least some redeeming qualities in its preference for cautious progress over unchecked development.

Getting there: Matsue is served by both the Izumo and Yonago airports. The city can also be reached directly by overnight buses from major cities, or via Okayama Station, Okayama Prefecture, using shinkansen. Click to enlarge. Sorry, but your browser needs Javascript to use this site. Savor rich British cuisine and funky tunes Britain is not unique in its stance as a nation obsessed with food; its contribution to the culinary canon speaks of rich flavors and nods to the country's history.


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Such is the thinking behind P A weekend in Bangkok: Pick up your mitts and get ready for chaos Bangkok is a multifaceted and multicultural, but often misunderstood, city. What exactly is the goal? And where does it all start? If all of those were realized, if our wish came true, would that be enlightenment? If we were perfect in every way, would that be enlightenment? If you close your eyes and free associate, what images come into your mind when you think of enlightenment? What comes up when you think of awake?

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The idea of enlightenment is tied up with our images of wise men or wise women. We have all sorts of preconceptions as to how such wise beings are supposed to look, supposed to talk, and supposed to act. Maybe they have to be a certain gender or a certain class.

Maybe they need to wear robes or appear to be very pure. Perhaps they need to have a halo and radiate light. Maybe they are extraordinarily virtuous and kindly, and smile beneficently at us.

Enlightenment is not easy to pin down. Nevertheless, while our ideas of enlightenment may be somewhat vague, and we may not know exactly how to describe it, we feel that we recognize it when we see it.

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Although we could pretend to be above it all, beyond striving and without ambition, we cannot hide the fact that in the Buddhist tradition the attainment of enlightenment is the central goal. Paradoxically, although we are on a search for enlightenment, following a path designed to bring us to that point, enlightenment is said to be inherent, our very nature. Many traditions have a version of the parable in which a poor person spends years and years looking for buried treasure here, there, and everywhere else, eventually discovering that he has had the treasure all along, buried under the floor of his own home.

We may keep looking and looking for something and not see a thing, but when we finally do see it, it is completely obvious.

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It is hard to believe we missed it. Although enlightenment can seem to be a totally unreachable goal, in fact we know exactly what it is and have glimpses of awakening all the time. The only problem is that our glimpses of awakening are brief, hit and miss, and cannot be sustained for any length of time. In fact, sometimes you discover something you wish you had not known; nonetheless, once you know, you know. Get even more Buddhist wisdom delivered straight to your inbox!

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Enlightenment cannot be produced. No matter how many mantras we recite, no matter how many teachers we serve or meditation retreats we do, we cannot force it to occur. Enlightenment is not a thought; it is not an attainment. It is inherent. Yet glimpses of enlightenment crop up all the time—in the in-between spaces or gaps. In my own experience, I find that over and over again fresh insights keep poking through the thickness of my habitual mental and emotional patterns.

But then I notice those insights, and with the noticing comes commentary, and with the commentary comes the desire to hold on to them as highlights or credentials.