Saturday, April 7, 2018

Garden works: new fence, new pines, new roof

by aleks
Each year during the winter closure the gardeners busily fix and change whatever needs to be fixed and changed, and if some major work needs to be done they leave it for that season, so there is as little disruption to the Garden when it's open for visitors as possible.

SJG • 3/28/18 - Camellia japonica 'Takayama' framed by the new bamboo fence, Area B

SJG • 3/28/18 - Camellia japonica 'Takayama' 
Most of the times the gardeners cover their tracks so it's hard to tell at the first glance what they did. If they remove a plant they never leave a gapping whole, but either put a new plant there or artfully cover the area with moss so unsuspecting eye doesn't immediately (or ever!) detect the change. Entire 10-20 trees disappeared or changed location without anybody noticing because the beautiful composition of the garden did not betray the disruption.  Once a huge western red cedar was cut and hauled away during the winter and hardly anybody took notice, because the new vista presented itself cleaner and prettier than the old one (save for the poor group of guides that each year catalogue all the plants for the Plant List - they used that cedar as a mark between the garden areas and boy, they were mightily confused! The Plant List is on sale at the Garden's gate).

This past winter's 'clandestine' work involved moving azaleas around, to better coordinate their colors with each other.  It's not a secret that Mr. Iida, who built our Garden over 50 years ago was a bit dismayed when the Arboretum gave him some 160 azaleas to use in the Garden.  He left a record of trying to downplay their colors, instructions to cut some of the western showy ones when the Garden matures and fills out a bit. The Garden is an ongoing work of art, and although most of Mr. Iida's instructions were carried through, our Garden in spring is still more of a rhododendron/azalea kingdom than a typical Japanese Garden. Again, the visitors probably won't notice the gardeners handiwork as the new picture will be probably more graceful and pleasing than the original, but the plant group will have a nice puzzle to solve.

Sometimes the winter changes are more dramatic, harder to hide or downright something to boast about it, like reconstructing the entire stream area after it dilapidated and looked somewhat raggedy unkept  and not in a 'rustic' way....  Or when one of our most precious 100+ years old Japanese maples was dug out, moved a meter away and turned 90 degrees to better showcase it and retrieve the look  which Dick Yamasaki achieved when he installed the rock placement nearby in the then new Garden (the maple grew over the years, of course, and the proportions were lost).

SJG • 4/2/18 - new Japanese black pine along the East path (area K)
This is one of those dramatic years in the Garden, for sure.  During the winter the gardeners handcrafted a beautiful bamboo fence framing the west side of Area B, where the Japanese Holly (Ilex crenata 'Sky Pencil') hedge stood for years.  They felt that as the Garden matured, the row of Japanese Holly, otherwise striking plants, was no longer creating a nice frame to plants and structures in that area - in fact they 'messed up' the picture  and distracted the eye.

Some of the pines had to be replaced as in recent years they were attacked by a type of fungi that didn't respond to a limited variety of treatments that the gardeners were able to use - the garden is quite fragile in itself, but the presence of koi and other animals called for only the most environmentally safe measures.

SJG • 4/2/18 - 3 new Japanese red pines on the  NW corner of the pond

The new Japanese black pine in K  (it replaced one of the hybrid pines that grew there) will probably not cause any cognitive dissonance in anyone:  it composes itself well into the new surroundings, and it was carefully pruned and trained for the last 20 years in the private garden of Lonnie, one of the Garden's long time gardeners.  He donated it to the Garden this past winter and apart from support to straighten  it a bit for the new picture (Lonnie trained it for a bit more slanted/swept away look) it kind of looks like it might have been always there.

But it's a different matter with the three  new Japanese red pines in the northwest corner of the pond: they replaced a grouping of 5 diseased Shore pines that were trying to survive there.  It's a quite a sizable area with 5 holes left in the ground after the trees were removed, so it is hard to pretend that the ground is undisturbed, even after planting 3 rather biggish new pines.  On top of it the new pines require much support to train them to grow in correct direction and simply being left alone after the transplanting shock.  So they have that 'art in progress' look right now, and it'll be a while before the gardeners start shaping them to harmonize their look with the rest of the Garden.  One of those red pines was also Lonnie's donations, and the other two were previously growing outside the Garden.

SJG • 4/2/18 - Machai is getting a new, copper roof

THE MACHIAI ROOF!  That is and will be hard to miss change!  the old wooden roff on the Machiai in the Tea House garden got rotten and needed replacing.  Right now the construction is being done on the new copper roof - the sheets of copper came all the way from Japan and Dale Brotherton is supervising this authentic traditional Japanese architectural effort.  If you want to see this being done (the supporting beams are being constructed, the copper has to be fitted in a certain interlocking way) the time is NOW, it is scheduled to be completed in about a a week or so.

Thank you, Gardeners!!!

Friday, March 30, 2018

SJG Unit 86 Continuing Education Schedule 2018

by aleks (I'll put the cont. ed. schedule on the right margin of the blog shortly)

SJG • 3/28/18 - Rhododendron sutchuenense in Area F

        This year the Unit 86 Continuing Education Committee has prepared a menu of three books, four films, and five classes (one class off-site). More classes and field trips may be added as opportunities arise.

          All events will take place in the Tateuchi Community Room unless otherwise noted. The times on the schedule indicate the total number of hours we can use the room. You will receive a detailed introduction to each event a few weeks in advance, and the schedule may change a bit. 

SJG • 3/28/18 - Camellia japonica 'Takayama',  next to the newly constructed
beautiful bamboo fence - thank you, Gardeners!

APRIL 10—10-1

READING GROUP: Cutting Back: My Apprenticeship in the Gardens of Kyoto (2017), by Leslie Buck

APRIL 25—Noon-4

FILM: “Cats of Mirikitani” (2006), director Linda Hattendorf
APRIL 28—10-1

CLASS: “May Bloomers”—Guided Tours of the Japanese Garden by the Unit 86 Plant Committee
MAY 22—10-1

CLASS: “Zen Buddhism”—Jason Wirth, PhD— Professor of Philosophy, Seattle University
JUNE 13—12-4

CLASS: “Japanese ceremonies and holidays”—Mary Hammond Bernson and Yurika Kurakata —Director and Assistant Director, East Asia Resource Center, UWJSIS
JUNE 26—11-12:30 (Off-site)

CLASS: “The History of Paper- and Book-Making in Japan”—Azusa Tanaka—Japan Studies Librarian, UW East Asia Library. (Details to follow later.)
JULY 10—10-1

READING GROUP: Pachinko (2017), by Min Jin Lee
JULY 25—Noon-4

FILM: “Lost in Translation” (2003), director Sofia Coppola
AUGUST 29—Noon-4

FILM: “Black Rain,” (1989), director Ridley Scott

CLASS: “Japanese foods workshop”—Shizue Prochaska
OCTOBER 16—10-1

READING GROUP: The Tale of Murasaki, (2000), by Liza Dalby
NOVEMBER 14—Noon-4

FILM: “Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters” (1985), director Paul Schrader

SJG • 3/28/18 - Camellia japonica 'Takayama'

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Momijigari (紅葉狩) in Kubota Garden

10/28/11 • Kubota Garden

by aleks, photos by Tony

Momijigari (紅葉狩), from the Japanese momiji (紅葉), "red leaves" or "maple tree" and kari (狩り), "hunting", is the Japanese tradition of going to visit scenic areas where leaves have turned red in the autumn.

Many Japanese people take part in this, with the cities of Nikkō and Kyoto being particularly famous destinations. The tradition is said to have originated in the Heian era as a cultured pursuit, and is the reason why many deciduous trees can be found in the Kyoto area.

Seattle Japanese Garden has its own tradition of Maple Viewing Festival (currently still ongoing) and the pictures of our turning maples were shown on this blog previous years.  This year Momijigari in our sister Kubota Garden (both SJG and Kubota are public gardens, managed by  Seattle Parks Department).

10/28/11 • Kubota Garden

10/28/11 • Kubota Garden

From Wikipedia: Momijigari (紅葉狩) or Maple Viewing (English title) is a Japanese shosagoto (dance) play, usually performed in kabuki and noh. It was also the first narrative ever filmed in Japan. It was written by Kanze Nobumitsu during the Muromachi period.  [...] 

The original play, performed in both noh and kabuki, is a story of the warrior Taira no Koremochi visiting Togakushi-yama, a mountain in Shinshū for the seasonal maple-leaf viewing event. In reality, he has come to investigate and kill a demon that has been plaguing the mountain's deity, Hachiman.

There he meets a princess named Sarashinahime, and drinks some sake she offers him. Thereupon she reveals her true form as the demon Kijo, and attacks the drunk man. Koremochi is able to escape using his sword, called Kogarasumaru, which was given to him by Hachiman. The demon gnaws on a maple branch as she dies. [...]

10/28/11 • Kubota Garden

But Maple Viewing Fest is also all around us, as Seattle has a climate similar to parts of Japan and many Japanese maples are planted around the city.  It's probably on your street, but come to Seattle Japanese Garden and Kubota Garden to see the it in particular Japanese-style setting.

10/28/11 • Kubota Garden

Monday, September 11, 2017

Congratulations Moon Viewing haiku winners 2017!

SJG • 9/9/17 - Photo by Peggy Garber

Judged by Tanya McDonald and Michael Dylan Welch (from 122 entries) of the Haiku Northwest

Thank you to everyone who entered the spirit of participation and celebration in writing haiku for the 2017 Seattle Japanese Garden Moon Viewing Haiku Contest, held on September 9, 2017. The entries seemed stronger and more poetic this year. If your name is partial below, or you provided no contact information, please email so we can update our records. If you have not yet received your prize, please contact the garden. First prize was an annual garden membership. Second prize was a garden T-shirt. And third prize was a set of garden postcards. Congratulations to all the winners, and to everyone who submitted poems.

SJG • 9/9/17 - Photo by NatSuyenaga 

First Place

lantern in the tree
it could be the only moon
we will see tonight

                  Sarah Aday [no contact info provided]

SJG • 9/9/17 - Photo by km

Second Place

hidden moon
I cannot see you—
looking still matters

                  Brian C. [no last name or contact info provided]

SJG • 9/9/17 - Photo by Peggy Garber

Third Place

consider the moon . . .
the audience is not unlike
the koi

                  Russell Nielson [spelling of last name unclear, perhaps Nelson or Nukor, email address also unclear]

Honorable Mentions (in no particular order):

for the autumn moon
another bowl of tea

                 Gwen Stamm 

SJG • 9/9/17 - Photo by Peggy Garber

needles outstretched
the crone-backed tree
beckons the moon

                  Samuel Levy 

SJG • 9/9/17 - Photo by Peggy Garber

orange moon—
can autumn fires
keep me from your gaze?

                  Karen Radcliff 

SJG • 9/9/17 - Photo by Peggy Garber

the moon hides
behind the clouds
waiting to shine

                  Diana Danzberger 
SJG • 9/9/17 - Photo by Peggy Garber

otsumi for 100 people
if the moon were here
it would be too crowded


SJG • 9/9/17 - Photo by NatSuyenaga

empty bento box
chilly breeze ruffles my scarf
waiting for the moon

                  Nina Marini 
SJG • 9/10/17 - The morning after the Otsukimi; Photo by km

Monday, August 21, 2017

Solar eclipse of August 21, 2017, through my pinhole camera

by aleks

I mean through my strainer/colander - I read one can get the same effect through tree leaves, but I only had a presence of mind to produce the  colander...

Seattle, 8/21/2017 - solar eclipse of 8/21/2017 through my strainer

It got spooky, weird and  dark, as if someone dimmed the sun for a moment, and then it gradually went back to the bright sunshine.  it must be how the nuclear winter might look like..  We had a hummingbird visitor for the moment of the eclipse:

Seattle solar eclipse of 8/21/17 - a hummingbird joins us 

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Yayoi Kusama 草間 彌生 or 弥生 Kusama Yayoi at SAM

photos by Tony
SAM • 8/14/17 - Yayoi Kusama in her own words (recorded interview is a part of the exhibition)

Yayoi'Kusama's first stop after leaving Japan was Seattle, where she had a solo show in 1957 at the now-long-gone Zoë Dusanne Gallery, before moving to New York City the following year.

SHE IS BACK!! Or, her art is at SAM till September 10th, 2017 -  the wildly popular exhibition Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors has new hours and new tickets available for everyone who wishes to see her artwork - check SAM's website.

If you are interested in buying Kusama's work, or up-to-date exhibition listings you may want to check the  Yayoi Kusama page at Artsy -  their mission is to make all the world’s art accessible to anyone.

SAM • 8/14/17 - they only allow 3 people into each mirrored room: as you see - reflected indefinitely 

From Wikipedia: Yayoi Kusama (草間 彌生 or 弥生 Kusama Yayoi, born March 22, 1929) is a Japanese artist and writer. Throughout her career she has worked in a wide variety of media, including painting, collage, soft sculpture, performance art, and environmental installations, most of which exhibit her thematic interest in psychedelic colors, repetition, and pattern. A precursor of the pop art, minimalist and feminist art movements, Kusama influenced her contemporaries such as Andy Warhol, Claes Oldenburg, and George Segal and exhibited works alongside the likes of them.

SAM • 8/14/17: a bit like looking inside of a kaleidoscope

From June 29/2017 Review  Seattle Times: '“Infinity Mirrors” surveys the art of Kusama, the 88-year-old Japanese avant-garde artist who has been in and out of the spotlight for over six decades. As the title suggests, and at the request of the artist, the exhibition focuses on Kusama’s mirrored installations, rooms you can enter or peek into, and find yourself be surrounded by giant polka-dot balloons or glowing yellow pumpkins or thousands of reflections of hovering lanterns...[..]

SAM • 8/14/17 - line for seeing inside of polka-dot room
SAM  8/14/17 - Yayoi Kusama, 草間 彌生

SAM  8/14/17 - Yayoi Kusama, 草間 彌生

SAM  8/14/17 - Yayoi Kusama, 草間 彌生 - a room where YOU can add polka dots :)