Follow Your Bliss – click any image for full size
June 2017 marked just over a year since Caitlyn and I last visited Follow Your Bliss, the homestead region designed by ElizabethNantes. Given this, we felt it was high time we made a return. Back then, the region had the distinct feel of a tropical archipelago, and we were keen to see what changes had been wrought in the intervening months.
For the current build, Elizabeth has adopted the Display Name Sushi – and on arrival it is immediately obvious why this should be: the region is now distinctly Japanese in looks. However, while many region designers opt to focus on a period build when turning to Japan – notably settling on the Edo period – Elizabeth offers something different: a mix of the old and the contemporary, gathered around a watery setting.
Set beneath an early evening sky, Follow Your Bliss presents a mainly low-lying series of islets surrounding a shallow body of water on which sampans float and waves are rippled by a gentle breeze. To the east, the land rises into a more substantial mass, formed by rocky shoulders and gently rolling slopes. Along this ribbon of land sits a row of little shops, some with traditional slope tile roofs, others box-like structures of concrete and wood, flat-topped and decorated with neon signage and adverts for popular brands.
A cobble footpath separates these shops from the waters of the shallows, running from a point just a short walk from the landing point to where an ancient – and clearly venerated – olive tree grows. At the southern end of this path, the route back to the landing point, located in a small summer-house also overlooking the shallow waters, is marked by a series of candle lanterns. Some of these manage to remain lit despite being caught in a gentle fall of rain, sitting close to a marching line of Torii gates which climb a hill, pointing the way to a pagoda and to where Buddha sits on a grassy curve of hill-top.
Looking towards the west, Buddha stares out over the waters of the region and the loose-knit chain of little islands which run northwards from the landing point towards a dense grove of bamboo. Connected by wooden bridges, these little islets offer places to sit and relax and perhaps join Buddha in quiet meditation as he looks down on you.
At the bamboo grove, which screens the main part of the region from was might be private residence, the path passes a temple bell and arcs more eastwards in its direction, passing a strong pavilion built out over the water. Beyond this, another little house straddles the water separating the western aspect of the region from the ancient olive tree and the little township beyond it.
With the ground a particular course grain of cinder earth, the chain-like beads of land surrounding the inland water as they run from the southern edge of the rockier ground and out to the west before turning back inwards to come back to the northern end of the land’s long finger, the entire impression is that this the site of an ancient crater – perhaps even the small caldera of a long extinct and flooded volcano, the land all that remains of the crater rim.
Finished with a gentle ambient sound scape of falling rain and birdsong, the splashing of water and the burring of dragonfly wings, Follow Your Bliss offers a relaxing setting, easy to explore and enjoy – and even the chance to sail a sampan. An altogether delightful little visit.
- Follow Your Bliss (Rated: Moderate)