A day in the Japanese Forest, Kolkata
November 23, 2019
Introducing the Place –
A piece of heaven tucked in our busy fast paced metropolitan city, Kolkata – that’s the best way to describe the Japanese Forest. Located near Gate 1
of Eco Park, this place is a magnificent slice of the gorgeous country of Japan. Spending some time in this amazing place gives you a feeling of really being in Japan.
Reaching the Japanese Forest –
Walking a few steps from Gate 1 of Eco Park we get the first glimpse of the central lake glittering under the rays of the sun. Moving ahead along the trails lined with lush green trees, we came to Rabi Aranya, which translates to a forest dedicated to the poet. This piece of the park is named in honour of the great Nobel laureate from Bengal, Rabindranath Tagore. It’s created in tune with Chhatimtala, the legendary classrooms under trees in Shantiniketan.
Strolling peacefully along the pathway bordering the lake, we reached the beautiful gate of the Japanese Forest. Four majestic lions welcomed us into this amazing place.
As soon we entered we were greeted by a life size statue of Lord Buddha. The beautifully crafted sculpture immediately brought a smile to my face. Soon the pagoda came into view which made such a pretty picture with its reflection on the small water body. And the first thing I felt upon entering this place was peace and calmness. Here a writing caught my attention –
Leave nothing but footprints
Take nothing but photographs
Kill nothing but time
Such an amazing and practical quote. It’s so important that people don’t disturb and destroy the wonderful structures and the natural beauty of this place. There are tons of places for gorgeous photo ops and this area is so serene and beautiful that one can spend so much time here.
Inside the beautiful place –
There are two pathways inside this forest – one is an arched style passage which is covered with green flora and little colourful flowers. The other one is designed in red and black bamboo poles, which is considered to be lucky in Japanese custom. It’s said that if people can walk the passage in sixty steps and lady luck will shine on them.
The Japanese Labyrinth is an awesome zone, the stoned spirals sandwiching lush green plants. Japanese philosophy says that walking around this labyrinth calms the mind and gives clarity of thought. The place is as beautiful as it’s soothing. There are numerous saint statues scattered around the region. It is considered that these saints protect the forest. Also there are lots of laughing Buddha faces strewn along a lush green meadow.
The Pagoda –
Now coming to the monastery – it’s an aesthetically built Japanese Pagoda. The little figurines along its boundary wall and the gate is beautifully made. In and around the monastery a long deep silence and peace prevails. There the prayer wheels which we can rotate and offer our prayers to Lord Buddha.
The pagoda is impressive and the ambiance is serene. People can come here, pray or just stop, relax and feel the stress flow away from them. A much needed calmness can be felt at this monastery.
The Japanese Restaurant –
There is a restaurant in this forest which serves delicious authentic Japanese cuisine. We had lunch at this joint and I must say, thoroughly enjoyed it. I was a little apprehensive about Japanese food owing to the inclusion of raw items. However the food items we ordered were fantastic – Chicken Yakitori, Prawn and Chicken Tempura and Fish Khushiaage for starters. And Tori Yaki Meshi which is chicken egg and vegetable fried rice for main course.
The tempura is a light battered fry and it was so yummy. The yakitori was bite sized pieces of grilled chicken topped with sesame seeds. The khushiaage was bread crumb coated deep fried fish item on skewers.
The mouth watering starters paved way for the superbly tasty sticky rice. With eggs, vegetables and chicken, the rice was of a different texture than the regular fried rice we are used to have but nonetheless totally delicious.
Continuing inside the forest –
The moon gate which was a huge circular gate, the bamboo lights which are said to be aligned to the stars according to Japanese mythology, the ascetic who came to the forest gods and now resides in the jungle with his two lions, the little Buddha figurines, the zigzag bridge which is said to increase concentration of the human mind, the wish fountain where one can say their wishes and it might be carried to the forest Gods and the small water bodies found all over this garden – these are the additional places of interest here.
We spent an afternoon in this gorgeous place and it was truly an awe-inspiring experience.
Concluding the journey –
The amazing structures and figures, the beautiful lush greenery and the all encompassing serenity and peace make the Japanese Forest a fabulous place. Spending time in this piece of heaven is a surreal feeling that transports to the Land of the Rising Sun.
If you are in Kolkata or plan to visit in the near future, I definitely recommend that you visit the Eco Park and don’t miss this beauty for sure.