By Koray Hussein
Last Wednesday, the Maybe Team were talking about… something. I’ll be honest, I don’t really remember what we were talking about but the subject eventually meandered it’s way to Holland Park’s serene, Kyoto Garden. Esin had frequently brought up the garden in conversation and I’d made a mental note to visit Holland Park purely to see it a long time ago but had never actually made my way down there.
At 4.45am the following morning, my curiosity coupled with my fascination with sunrises got the better of me and had me strolling towards my local underground station to grab the morning’s first train out to Holland Park.
Now, if you’ve never attempted to enter one of London’s parks first thing in the morning, you may be under the impression that each park actually sticks to their opening times like any other place but many of them just stay open throughout the night. The gates around Primrose Hill seem to always be open, whilst St Dunstan’s in-the-East sticks to the displayed opening times. I had no idea which of the two policies Holland Park would be employing but seeing as my body seems to hate the idea of actually resting, I didn’t mind taking a chance and made my way to High Street Kensington station.
I got to the park at something to six in the morning (The park opens at 7.30am) and saw the main gates were in fact closed which wasn’t exactly the best of signs but I decided to continue looking in the hope of finding a way in that didn’t involve a short, unathletic Cypriot toppling over a fence.
After coming across a number of closed gates, I happened upon an open one on the Holland Park station side (as opposed to High Street Kensington station side) and strolled in… Now I’ve spoken before about how much of a bitch I am when it comes to spices but when it comes to the dark, I don’t really get scared. I like the dark and, for some reason or another, find darkness calming… Unless of course I’m walking through a park I’ve never been to before with only the sounds of my own footsteps, animals chirping/squawking whilst running around you and the faint sound of a waterfall in the background… Then I’m leaning towards being wimp and asking myself, why they hell does this place not have a single lamppost?!
After a few minutes of wandering around, looking at a map of Holland Park on my phone and shiting myself, I finally came across Kyoto Garden shrouded in darkness. I could just about make out all the reds and greens of the garden but could already tell that I was somewhere undeniably special. I took a seat and waited for the park to come into view whilst the the now relaxing sounds of the waterfall took the role of background music accompanied by the park’s many scurrying squirrels.
Once dawn had come and gone I found myself in what is probably the prettiest garden I’ve ever had the pleasure of visiting. It doesn’t have the character and otherworldliness that St Dunstan’s in-the-East has and it’s not quite as quaint as Postman’s Park but Kyoto Garden really does feel like a little slice of Japan that’s been gently placed inside of London’s Holland Park. It’s beautifully laid out and attracts yoga enthusiasts like a Starbucks attracts hipsters, which adds to the calming nature of the garden.
I can see why this is one of Esin’s favourite spots and whilst I’d still rather be relaxing in St Dunstan’s, tucking into one of Toast’s glorious rolls, I’ll definitely be visiting Kyoto Garden again.