Fall in 2011. I took a flight by myself from Tegel Airport, Berlin to Denmark. The view I looked out the plane window was telling me that the winter had started. It was my first year to live in Germany, and frigid winter in Europe was nothing but melancholic to imagine. However, when it comes to something I see during a trip, any view can be an element to remember each precious moment. Getting excited about the trip, I was looking at the view of early winter. For the first time in nine years, I was going to join my father’s business trip. The stage of the trip was the Northern Europe: Denmark and Norway.
When I arrived at the city of Aarhus, located in the east coast of Denmark, the townscape with good atmosphere immediately attracted me. Beautiful natural landscape, a cobbled street, and the Cathedral that is the symbol of the town. Although Aarhus is second-largest city in Denmark, it is very attractive city with laid-back feeling. I arrived at the hotel where we were going to stay and waited for my father in the lobby. Taking two ADA staffs, he showed up without having any sign of fatigue from the long flight. There was another person—a sophisticated looking gentleman with white beard— came with my father. It was the founder of Tropica Aquarium Plants, Mr. Holger Windeløv. He and my father have known each other for a long time, and they were like fellow pioneers to lead planted aquarium industry. Mr. Windeløv, who visited Niigata a few times before, welcomed us sincerely, saying it is in gratitude for the hospitality he received in Niigata.
My father was invited by Aarhus Aquarium Club as a lecturer. He was busy on meetings and preparations for the seminar from the next day we arrived. However, Mr. Windeløv arranged the schedule and found spare time to show us around the sights around Aarhus. Among them, the place stood out in my memory the most is the hilly grassland, which is Mr. Windeløv’s favorite spot (as far as I can remember). The hill looks out across the land of Aarhus, and beyond it is the Baltic Sea. Green glass and blue sky, and the sea sparkling in the sunshine. Even though cold autumn breeze was blowing, I felt refreshed to see the magnificent view in front of me. My father also liked it there and he set up the film camera he brought from Japan to take photographs of the view against the sun. He forgets about everything once he gets serious about something; he was occupied with taking photographs ignoring Mr. Windeløv. Even so, Mr. Windeløv was looking at my father, joyfully.
That evening, Mr. and Mrs. Windeløv invited four of us to the dinner at their place. My father put on the purple cashmere sweater that he liked to wear at that time and a jacket. And he told the ADA staffs to wear jacket, too. “Listen. Inviting someone to the home is the best hospitality,” my father told us many times. He is faithful man and tries to keep good manners even between friends. Feeling a little bit nervous, taking a local brewed Sake (rice wine) and the souvenir that my mother carefully chose, we visited Mr. and Mrs. Windeløv’s house located in the suburbs of Aarhus. Their house, which was renovated traditional Danish old house, was breathtakingly beautiful. Mrs. Windeløv, a painter, and their daughter, a film director, were both very attractive. They were open and warmly welcomed us, and I became friend with them right away. Before the dinner, Mr. Windeløv, who is fond of drinking like my father, took us to his bar counter and offered us a welcome drink. When my father handed the souvenir saying, “it is from my wife,” Mr. Windeløv had a gentle smile. The souvenir from my mother was an elegant Japanese Sake cup with a painting of crane that was packed in a Paulownia box. “Mrs. Amano always selects something sophisticated. Look, this is also from her.” And Mr. Windeløv took out the Japanese pottery carefully from the cabinet, and showed it to us. By rights, my mother should have been there but not me, I thought. I was remembering several pictures I had seen a few times before. The memorial picture taken at the International Aquatic Plants Summit hosted by ADA 20 years ago in 1995, and other pictures taken at different occasions shows Mr. Windeløv, my father and my mother. Those pictures stored in our old albums at home are describing the history of them. Through this trip, I met Mr. Windeløv for the first time, was touched by his personality, and understood the reason for the strong relationship between my father and Mr. Windeløv.
The next day, “Symposium on Aquatic Plants in Denmark” was held. The layout seminar that my father gave a lecture made a great success. There were full of people in the venue and it looked as if all the Nature Aquarium fans across the Europe got together. All the audiences had smile on his or her face to the humor of Takashi Amano, who demonstrates his world everywhere he goes. At the same time, at his excellent planting skill, audiences looked at him seriously and intensively. Being among the audiences, Mr. Windeløv was also quietly watching him. In front of the completed layout, Mr. Windeløv and my father shook their hands, and audiences took pictures as if they were paying respect to those two men. I also snapped some pictures of them. Finally, I became a part of the history they have been weaving together. I felt myself very fortunate to be there.
Although I stayed in Denmark just for a few days, some of the impressive scenes I met there still remain vivid in my mind. I’m not sure if those scenes contain something important for me or not. However, when I remember each one of them, I feel refreshed, just like I felt on the hilly grassland.
text & illustration by Sayuri Amano
English translation by Megumu Ogata