A dragon painted on the garden shed
Bringing Japan to Barnsley
by Mick Lunney
Far from the land of sushi and the rising sun, a Japanese garden is getting tongues wagging in Barnsley. Find out why the owners just can't stop adding to their oriental delight.
Standing guard: a dog statue
For sheer indulgence and surprise upon surprise the back garden of a council house in Kingstone has to be seen. Garden gnomes? No chance. It's a place exclusively for oriental objects, and even boasts its own tea house.
The proud creators of the eastern haven are Catherine and Jim Charlesworth. Catherine tells us that she draws up the plans and Jim is her carpenter and brickie; she acts as his labourer.
Bridge over the 'river' Kingstone
"I spent two weeks from early morning 'til late at night painting a huge red dragon on the door of Jim's wood shed." In fact the couple spend most of their day in the garden. Housework gets done when the weather drives them inside.
So why the love affair with all things Japanese? It sprang from their daughter's work in the Far East, including a stint in Japan. Catherine visited her there and that sealed her passion. "It was absolutely stunning, something I'll never forget," said Catherine.
Not for gnomes
Back home at their semi in Kingstone the garden became more and more like a snapshot of Okinawa with each passing year.
The trickle of a stream next to an exquisite, classically-styled Japanese bridge in deep red, flanked by trees, shrubs and icons leaves visitors in awe of the dedication involved in the project.
Jim says the therapeutic benefits of the work and the finished product are many, but he sums it up in a homely way, "It's nice to come on a night, turn the lights on and have a meal or a drink of tea."
Oriental design painted on paving
So has the garden become a haven for home-sick Japanese tourists? Not quite, but there has been one memorable visit. "My daugther's boss in Japan came to London to visit his daughter. He drove up here in a hire car to see the garden, he spent about an hour with us, and drove back again. He said it was fantastic," said Catherine.
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last updated: 11/09/07
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