I went on a research trip to the Nagasaki area a few years ago and stopped by this rest stop called Wakimizu Japanese Garden Shimeisou （湧水庭園四明荘） between sites. The places of interest for history research were each far away, and the reality of the persecution during that time period weighed heavy on my heart so it was a fun but tiring trip. When I saw this "rest stop" on a map, I was curious and had to see inside. It looked like a very well-kept estate with a traditional Japanese garden. Right beyond the entrance, we saw this covered bench. It has become a symbol of hospitality to me ever since.
There was a walkway surrounding the home that was directly over a pond with koi fish. I found out later that the area is nicknamed "city of swimming koi fish" because there are connected waterways all around the city and there are many sites to stop and see the fish. My friend and I were welcomed in. We removed our shoes and sat on the edge of the deck over the koi pond. After much walking it was a rejuvenating stop. Some ladies then brought us green tea as we sat and rested, mostly in silence.
I was struck by this example of simple hospitality - the welcoming entrance, the open home layout, the cup of tea, and a relaxing place to sit and stretch our feet. This picture left a strong impression on me, so after returning home I painted this piece. It hangs right at the entrance of our home, just like the placement of the bench at the entrance to this home in Nagasaki. It serves as a reminder to show this type of open hospitality. Nothing I have is my own to hoard, it's all given to share. The hospitality I can offer may be a cup of tea and a seat, but that may be exactly what's needed. Though it's nice to do more like plan out special food and have a perfectly decorated space, that doesn't necessarily provide rest.
The process of painting this is how I view hospitality - imperfect but personal. There's no underdrawing sketch. The perspective is skewed, but I don't need to fix it. I added too much water and the paint dripped where I hadn't intended it to. I left some parts messy, and focused on some key details that stood out like wood grain and certain colors that I'm naturally drawn to. Hospitality isn't perfect - you offer what you have, however imperfect and unplanned it may be. When I glance at this piece, each "imperfection" reminds me of keeping an open door, both in painting and in our home.
I have a full large drawer of tea from around the world to suit anyone's taste and plenty of places to sit. I hope you come and rest a while.
Wakimizu Japanese Garden Shimeisou | 湧水庭園四明荘 | More info here