Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Moon viewing 2014 and upcoming events...

by aleks
SJG • 9/6/14 - Lantern at Laceleaf maple;
 foto by Nat Suyenaga
O-tsukimi, or moon viewing, dates back to 8th century Japan, when on the 8th month of the old Japanese (lunar) calendar aristocrats celebrated the beauty of the autumnal full (fool) moon with poetry and music. By the 17th century, the tradition spread to farmers and townspeople, incorporating elements of a harvest festival into the admiration of the moon's rays.

We had our usual attractions: tea ceremonies in the Shoseian Teahouse, Japanese music, butoh dance, haiku poetry readings and contest, and the Seattle Astronomical Society members ready with strong telescopes for people to view the rising moon in the mountain area of the Garden.

The moon DID appear in the full glory in the trees above the entrance gate.  Luminaries on the paths, lanterns on the trees and, at dusk, candle-filled boats launched on the pond completed the utterly magical night. It is one of the Garden's celebration I try never miss - it's so very special and one of the kind.

SJG • 9/6/14 - WPA bridge area at Moon Viewing; foto by Nat Suyenaga
SJG • 9/6/14 - butoh at moon viewing
SJG • 9/6/14 - the moon DID appear
SJG • 9/6/14 - Haiku writing station at Emperor's Gate

• • • • • 
Attention up-coming (open for everyone):

• Noh in the Garden - Thursday, September 25th, 6:30 pm. Tickets on sale now (206-684-4725), limited to 100; some chairs in the orchard will be provided, but blankets and tatami mat welcome; in the event of rain the performance will be shifted to nearby Montlake Community Center - noh-goers will be notified (email) by noon of the day of the performance.

What is "NOH"? Noh is the oldest classical dance-dramas in Japan. It was developed in the 14th century from religious sources and folk myths. It is a combination of drama, music, and dance (mai).  Noh is also one of the five major forms of traditional Japanese theater.

After 1374, Noh was patronized by the warrior class, whereas Kabuki (traditional theater) and Bunraku (classical puppetry) developed later for the common people. More here...

• Noh in the Act Theater (700 Union Street), September 26, Fri, 7pm, Sept. 27, Sat, 2 pm & 7pm, Sept. 28, Sun 2pm: The Beauty of Noh, Tomoe and Yoshinaka (for tickets go to the link below):

'The Beauty of Noh' will, for the first time, present a double-bill performance featuring Noh, the traditional dance-drama of Japan, alongside a modern Noh-inspired opera based on the same story.

The Noh opera 'Tomoe', based on the 'Tales of the Heike', is a love story about a woman, the famous 12th-century samurai warrior Tomoe Gozen, who is not allowed to die on the battlefield with her master, Yoshinaka.

The traditional Noh play 'Tomoe' will be performed by Munenori Takeda, one of Japan's most talented Noh masters, and the Takeda Noh Troupe. The Fisher Ensemble and Munenori Takeda will then perform 'YOSHINAKA', a modern opera based on the story of 'Tomoe' written by Seattle-based composer Garrett Fisher.

• • • • • 
 Attention up-coming (for the guides only): Do not miss Robert Pacht's informative and stimulating presentation Thursday, September 18:  What lives in the pond at SJG? An overview of the aquatic ecology of our little pond. 
Robert writes: "Who lives in our pond, where did they come from and how do they thrive?   An interactive discussion based on observations by Unit 86 docents, garden employees, visitors and myself. Our visitors are quite interested in this topic in my experience, and my philosophy on guiding is it's always about them and not about us.  The more we have in our tool kits the more rewarding we can make our tours for our customers.  I have not done and do not plan on doing any sampling so bring your observations with you as many of you have seen things that I have not."

SJG • 9/6/14 - Moon Viewing,  Entry Gate;  by Nat Suyenaga

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Wandering & Wondering: butoh in the Garden 2014

by aleks
SJG • 8/10/14  - 'Us being koi'

SJG • 8/10/14, Christopher Hydinger

SJG • 8/10/14, Susie Kozawa

SJG • 8/10/14, Samuel Yoder

SJG • 8/10/14, Diana Garcia-Snyder
SJG • 8/10/14, Kaoru Okumura
SJG • 8/10/14,  Lin Lucas
SJG • 8/10/14,  Joan Laage

SJG • 8/10/14,  Sheri Brown

SJG • 8/10/14,  Stephen Passero
SJG • 8/10/14, Michael Shannon
SJG • 8/10/14
SJG • 8/10/14, Katrina Wolfe
SJG • 8/10/14

Friday, August 8, 2014


by aleks
I got busy with summer activities, but still wanted to record our June Cont. Ed. class on Japanese tea presentation - quite extraordinary two hours learning about chanoyu, its traditions and intricacies, ways of serving the sweets that come with it, and especially about the intent behind it. We were even given an opportunity to make and serve the tea to each other!

SJG, Tateuchi Community Room  • 6/19/14 - Tea sweets: bean cakes presented on hydrangea leaves with a bamboo stick

Our tea master Naomi Takemura and her gracious assistant Kaoru Green made it super-special for us by hand-preparing all the sweets that went with the presentation, beautifully arranging them and being very patient with us and our different speeds of understanding  (I know, we asked the same questions several times).

SJG, TCR  • 6/19/14. Our Tea Masters: Naomi Takemura (R) and Kaoru Green (L)

I have previously participated in a few ceremonial ways of preparing and drinking tea (actually just drinking), but be it for the discomfort of kneeling for an hour (I learned since that one can request a stool if your knees are not in the best order) or for the ceremony being largely silent that I came to the conclusion that one needs some training to even receive the tea - most of what was going on was flying above my head and by the time of Q&A on the end of the ceremonies  my mind was chiefly  busy with wondering if  I'd be able to stand up and walk out without tripping...

SJG, • 6/19/14 - Kaoru Green starting to prepare the tea

So now, leisurely sitting in a CHAIR, I could finally learn what is the business of turning the tea cup while presenting it to the guest and back to the host. Turns out each cup has 'front' and 'back' (even if it has no such marking, the sides get  'appointed' to a specified position), and it would be impolite, of course, to offer the tea in a cup that presents its 'back' to the guest or the host.  During our class Naomi and Kaoru answered this and many of our questions with humor, kindness and patience.

SJG, TCR  • 6/19/14. Our other sweets (Japanese candies) were served in origami boxes

After the class Mrs. Takemura sent us a wonderful note which included this touching  sentiment: "I will be happy if you are able to feel the heart of chanoyu (tea ceremony) behind the forms or procedures of drinking tea."

That sentence spoke to me and very much summarized my own feeling about the class: 'your questions finally answered'; now  I can just enjoy the next chanoyu instead of trying to figure out what it means.   Thank you Naomi Takemura and Kaoru Green, from the bottom of our hearts!

SJG • 6/19/14. Irises were blooming while we had our tea...

The custom of tea ceremony has been strongly influenced by Zen Buddhism and there are many schools of chanoyu.  Sensei Takemura has a teaching degree from Sen Soshitsu of Urasenke school in Kyoto; in May 2012 Thomas Hargrave wrote a blog-post based on his conversation with her; click  here to read it...

SJG offers tea ceremony throughout the year (contact the Japanese Garden at 206-684-4725 for the current schedule) + extra 3 presentations during the upcoming Moon Viewing Ceremony (Sept. 6th)

• • • • • 
Reminder:  butoh Wandering & Wondering this Sunday, August 10,  2-5 pm. Unexpected and enchanting performers take over the Garden...

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

A Journey Back in Time "Evening at Panama Hotel"

by Keiko P.
Sometimes, I have a great pleasure meeting with distinguished member of our community through my work at local public library. Sarah is one of them, who introduced me to a Japan-America society event in Seattle, "A Journey Back in Time 'Evening at Panama Hotel.

  • Friday, September 12, 2014
  • 5:30 PM - 8:30 PM
  • 605 1/2 S Main St, Seattle, WA 98104

This is a great opportunity to visit this historical hotel featured in the book, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet. I assure you that reading this book ahead of time the event even more memorable. 

As below, we will hear about past and present of the building and the surrounding community, which was once called Japantown. See you there!

Event Schedule 
5:30 pm    Registration opens  
6:00 pm    Welcome Speech - Ambassador Michael Michalak
6:10 pm    A Talk by the owner of Panama Hotel, Ms. Jan Johnson
6:30 pm    Networking/Social time 
8:30 pm    End

Parking: Street Parking

Event Page

Introduction to Panama Hotel in Japanese

Monday, July 28, 2014

Our granddaughters, again

by Aleks
it was 2 years ago that Lynnda and I took our granddaughters - then 2 y.o. (minus 2 days) Sophie  and 7 y.o. (minus 4 weeks)  Ellie  to Seattle Japanese Garden. We did it again, when Ellie visited from Maine this July: the girls are now respectively: almost 4 and almost 9 y.o.  This time Sophie's new brother Nick and their mother also came with us.

SJG • 7/23/14 - by the Kobe lantern

Ellie remembered Sophie well and wondered if she grew up much, was curious about her baby brother and eager to repeat the Japanese Garden adventure. Sophie claimed not remembering Ellie ('I was 2 years old!'), but as soon as the girls got together the aura of familiarity enveloped them:  familiar circumstances, familiar grounds and probably familiar feelings.  They walked together, held hands and looked like old friends in no time: it was almost as if the time stood still for their meeting in our beautiful Japanese Garden.

SJG • 7/23/14  - checking the fuzzy under-leaves of r. yakushimanum

Ellie still keeps haiku travel journal and this is what she wrote in it on the end of the day:

SJG • 7/23/14 - chasing crows in the orchard

Sofie chased crows,
wet socks  -
Japanese Garden

SJG • 7/23/14 - 'lots of plants, really pretty'

Japanese Garden,
lots of plants –
really pretty

SJG • 7/23/14 - obligatory parting pic on the WPA bridge: till we meet again

•  •  •  •  •
 I have really neglected this blog and the JG bloom-blog this summer, spending time away from the internet and in the wonderfully sunny weather we are having in Seattle, but I really wanted to post a few pics from very interesting cont. ed class we had in June on Contemporary Way of Tea with Mrs. Naomi Takemura; I will do so in a few days.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Lots happening and super-secret azalea

by aleks

1.) The school tours are winding down and almost over, as summer time is nearly upon us: one of the last school tours was on Tuesday, June 10th - the middle schoolers came from The Attic Learning Community; they were visiting SJG before their Arboretum visit (for a  plant workshop w/ecology focus).  They were very well prepared, curious and asked smart questions, among other things were interested in hearing/learning about tea  ceremonies - not much I could have helped them with, besides general information, but hopefully they'll come back soon for a tea ceremony itself.

SJG • 6/10/14 - The Attic Learning Community visiting SJG

2.) Hello, Fellow docents: Unit 86 Executive Committee meeting with Parks Dept. regarding Parks Department and U86 cooperation: this Monday, June 16, 2014  10:30-12:00  in TCR (minutes from previous mtg and agenda for this one in your inbox, inside email  from U86 prez);  a new way for you to get involved and participate in the works of the Garden - a committee is being created and waits for you (on volunteer recruitment for tours; overall garden programming; gatehouse signage; merchandise inventory and routine reports; and volunteer signup and tracking systems.)

3.) Also, Hello fellow docents: a new shipment of Japanese Garden T-shirts has arrived, and almost 200 shirts need to be prepared for sale - can you help the Merchandise Committee do this? On Wednesday, June 18 at 10:00 - 1:00 in TCR?

4.) We have TWO up-coming cont. ed classes for the guides:
• June 19, Thursday, 10 AM-1 PM: Contemporary Way of Tea— with Mrs. Naomi Takemura
• July 19, Saturday, 10 AM-1 PM: Gardening the Body—Art and Practice of Butoh—with Joan Laage

5.) Saturday, June 21: A Day at Hort: Open House Invitation for the second Annual Seattle Parks and Recreation Jefferson Horticulture Facility at 1600 S. Dakota Street (details in your inbox inside email  from U86 prez).

Seattle Chinese Garden • 6/14/14 - Guzheng (koto 'ancestor')

 6.) We had our annual filed-trip to Chinese Garden with Dewey yesterday - I planned to attend and had to skip at the last moment  (perhaps you can post about it if you attended?), but managed to catch lovely  GUZHENG (koto 'ancestor') recital there several hours later, complete with Chinese painting and dancing (see pics) and saw 400 newly planted peonies - .

Seattle Chinese Garden • 6/14/14 - Guzheng recital

7.)  Hello Everyone, guests and volunteers: Don't forget celebration of  Tanabata - a Japanese star festival on Sunday, July 6!

SJG • 6/14/14 Rhododendron amagianum, an azalea which has trifoliate evergreen foliage and blooms in June with scarlet, somewhat tubular flowers. It's super-secret, because it somehow escaped our Plant List, spotted by senior-gardener Patty and identified by Corinne K. @ Plant Committee.  It Grows in area Y, close to Service Road (you can see the road behind the plant)

SJG • 6/14/14 - R. amagianum, Area Y

8.) I'm sure I'm forgetting something...