If you’ve ever been to Las Vegas, Nevada you’ll often hear it referred to as “Sin City” or “Lost Wages.” Images of crowded casinos and bright lights on the Las Vegas Strip or the Bellagio fountains from “Ocean’s Eleven” probably come to mind. However, if I mention Japan, you’d most likely think I’m crazy. It may surprise you then, that beyond the outdoor fountains of Bellagio lies and indoor flower garden flourishing with holiday, culture, and destination themed displays. With each season this famed hotel changes its display at the Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, and it won’t surprise you that I’m eager to see its latest display of Japanese Gardens. If you don’t have money for a ticket to this Asian island, then come with me along the garden pathways of the Bellagio:
My attention first arrives at the arrangement of cranes throughout the Japanese garden. Cranes, the symbol of peace and tranquility, were often a favorite of mine after I read the story of “Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes.” I was determined to learn the origami of a paper crane and was intent on folding everything from used wrapping paper to old magazines. Friends of mine share an affinity for the same activity of folding cranes. They often find it gave them peace and focus during personal struggles. One of my friends even named her photography business Thousand Crane Photography as an homage to these powerful symbols.
Among the lilies, mums, and wooden architecture there’s more animals to behold. A turtle stands at the entrance as a symbol of strength. I’ve always admired turtles for their strong backs that are known in some ancient myths for carrying the world on. I’m also known in my family for quoting all the lines of the sea turtles in “Finding Nemo” as their fins of over 100 years take Marlin on a ride to find Nemo. And, who could forget the story of the tortoise whose strong spirit won the race? The Japanese also view turtles as symbol of longevity and good luck, so it comes as no surprise that one resides at the entrance of the garden, sending those who enter with good fortune as they pass through.
Walking through the circular pathway that takes me past vibrant pink, purple, and yellow flowers, I’m amazed by yet another amazing Bellagio display. I still dream of Japan, admiring the resilience of the Crane and the Turtle as I exit the flower garden. Although it’s something you may not expect from the gambling and bright lights of Las Vegas, it’s a reminder that what’s on the inside can be even more intriguing and surprising than the outside.