The Japanese Embroidery Center is located in a very pleasant suburb north of Atlanta. The area is slightly hilly and heavily wooded. There are many lovely and individual properties nestled among the trees but you get a sense that the Center has its own unique character when you see the bamboo grove at the entrance of the driveway.
In the short walk to the front door you are transported from Atlanta to Japan. Like many of its neighbours, the Center is built on a split level. The entrance hall at the front is at ground level. From here you pass through the reception rooms into the classroom at the rear of the building, all on the same level, to find yourself high in tree canopy. Although surprised the close proximity of the forest, I immediately fell in love with this space. The whole of the external wall is floor to ceiling window and the sights and sounds of the forest surround you. The slight downside to this is that the classroom is a bit gloomy and I prefer to work in good natural light.
Lessons begin at 10.00 am and end at 3.30 pm with an hour for lunch but the classroom is open from 9.00 am until 5.00 pm most days. There is no talking during lessons. Talking is discouraged at the Bournemouth class I attend each year so I have become used to this and I prefer it to a noisy classroom. I find it more relaxing and I can focus better without the distraction of conversation. However, there is plenty of conversation during lunch time and this is a good opportunity to become better acquainted with fellow students and the tutors. I had met several people via the internet before the class and it was great to finally meet them in person.
Every day we were severed a culinary treat prepared for us by Mika-san. Some days we enjoyed a sweet desert but my personal favourite were the savoury bamboo dishes she served us. The bamboo shoots came from the garden. I don’t know if every type of bamboo is edible but I think that the thin ornamental bamboo that I have at home would make very slim pickings. Another lunch time treat that I tried to fit in most days was a stroll around the garden. There was a stepping-stone path behind the house, below the classroom windows. Here I waited to spot some of the wild life that makes in home in the garden. The squirrels and chipmonks were very entertaining as they preformed acrobatics amongst the branches. I had spotted a couple of deer from the classroom one morning but they never put in an appearance during my lunchtime strolls. I most enjoyed the birdlife. None of the birds were ones I recognised from home and I have no idea what many of them where but I was able to identify the red cardinals and the bee-eaters both of which were raising chicks.
The first day I spotted some blue-tailed lizards sunbathing on a wall but as it turned cold and grey after that, they were not to be seen again but nearly every day I spent a short time watching a baby bunny nibbling the tender spring shoots.
Even before taking the classes into account, I really enjoyed my time at the Center. It is an idyllic setting for some stitching time. There is inspiration to be had from the lovely garden as well as the exquisite embroideries that adorn the walls and are set into glass topped tables. There were fresh flowers beautifully arranged (I believe by Mika-san), the flowers and foliage taken from the garden and refreshed most days. Unfortunately, photography was not allowed inside the Center so I have no pictures of the interior except for this one, taken with permission, of a flower arrangement in the entrance hall.