Saturday, August 1, 2015

August notes

by aleks
Heads-up on quite a few interesting things happening at our Garden this month:

SJG • 7/31/15

1.)  FILM:  on Wednesday, August 5, at noon in the Tateuchi Community Room: “Japanese Dance: Succession of a Kyomai Master” (2000) is a one‐hour documentary.

The film shows Inoue Yachiyo IV, designated a living national treasure of Japan in 1955, as she prepares her granddaughter to become her successor in a form of dance called Kyomai (or Kyoto Style). Kyomai, which reflects elements of six related Mai dances and the influence of Noh, originated in the 17th century in the courtly culture of the Tokugawa period and embodies the elegance and sophistication of the imperial court. It is usually performed in the intimacy of Japanese tatami mat rooms by specialists in the arts (Geiko) and their apprentices (Maiko). Wearing elaborate kimonos, they carry fans and may be accompanied by flutes, small hand drums and occasional vocals and percussion music. Many years of training and practice can be seen in the subtlety and precision of hand movements that distinguish the Geiko from the apprentice. The film includes rare footage of Inoue Yachiko III.

It is technically for the Garden staff and volunteers, but if you are neither, I'll welcome you as my guest!

SJG • 7/31/15 - koi

2.) CONT. ED.  for the guides: August 15, Saturday, 10-1: CLASS in TCR —Dale Brotherton—Tea House Architecture.  Ever wonder what makes Japanese architecture unique in the world? Is it always a natural fit to the garden, and why? Are there details that can be identified as characteristically Japanese? Find out this and more. Join Dale Brotherton for an hour-long discussion on this fascinating subject. We’ll briefly review the history of architectural development in Japan, look at examples of buildings here in the States, and then turn our eyes to the existing garden structures.

SJG • 7/31/15

3.)  DANCE/ART performance in the Garden,  Sunday, August 16, 2 - 5pm: Wandering & Wondering - annual exhiliarting butoh event.

SJG • 7/31/15

4.) FIELD TRIP on 8/18 (Tuesday):  Dewey just sent an interesting plan for another field trip to several garden destinations in the Puget Sound area, including Sea-Tac and Tacoma. Please read the  file in your email and respond to him if interested!

• • • • • 
• That's about all, folks. Well, I meant to write a post a week ago titled 'Our Granddaughters', about docent Lynnda L. and mine grand-spawns annual Garden meeting, but I didn't get around it. Here is a pic from the event + Ellie's haiku on the topic:

SJG • 7/21/15:  Sophie and Ellie
Japanese Garden
With Sophie—
She had lots to say!

• AND, an obligatory pic of the blue moon yesterday, of course!:)
Blue moon over Seattle 7/31/15

Saturday, July 11, 2015

七夕 • Tanabata Festival, as seen by Ellie

by aleks
SJG • 7/11/15 - Tanabata Festival

Ellie, my 9 yo granddaughter, has been coming to Seattle Japanese Garden for years. Today was her second time for Tanabata...   She took part in many activities, while discovering that many people around the garden know her face from the July page of the 2015 calendar where her picture matches this Kobayashi Issa's haiku:


kakehashi wo ayunde wataru ko chô kana

crossing the hanging bridge
on foot...

SJG • 7/11/15 - feeding koi; photo by Ellie

This time around Ellie took over my camera to record what she has seen, and said: 'put my pictures on the blog, please'. And so here they are.

From The Nihon Sun: Tanabata – Festival of Star Crossed Lovers:  Separated by the milky way, two star crossed lovers are only able to meet once a year on the seventh day of the seventh month based on the lunisolar calendar.  The legend of Hikoboshi (the star known as Alter) and Orihime (the star known as Vega) has roots in China but has been associated with Japan’s Tanabata festival since the sixth century.

SJG • 7/11/15 - Seen from the stepping stones; photo by Ellie

Orihime, the daughter of Emperor Tentei, was a skilled weaver and made lovely clothes for her father.  On day as she sat alongside the the river of heaven ( amanogawa – the milky way) she was overcome with sadness as she had been so busy with her weaving that she hadn’t had time to fall in love.   Tentei, believed to be the ruler of the heavens, witness her woeful state and arranged a marriage for her with Hikoboshi who lived across the river.  The couple was very much in love and were very happy but Orihime was neglecting her weaving.  This angered Tentei so much that he decided to separate the couple putting them back on opposite sides of the river.

SJG • 7/11/15 - Ellie got a nerve and great social skills to ask the two ladies heading for a  tea ceremony to pose for this picture; they were nice and obliged; photo by Ellie

Tentei decreed that the couple would only be allowed to see each other on one night each year – on the seventh day of the seventh month.  On that evening a boatman (the moon) comes to ferry Orihime over the river to her beloved Hikoboshi.  But if Orihime has not given her best to her weaving Tentei may make it rain causing the river to flood so the boatman cannot make the trip.  In this case the kasasagi (a group of magpies) may still fly to the milky way to make a bridge for Orihime to cross.  More here...

SJG  • 7/11/15: Tanabata activities... photo by Ellie

SJG  • 7/11/15: Ellie and Grandpa Tony

Monday, July 6, 2015

Upcoming: July Butoh Fest and few other announcements

by aleks

1.)  Press Release from Daipan Butoh Collective:

June 24, 2015
Kill Date: July 20, 2015

DAIPANbutoh Collective presents the 6th annual Seattle Butoh Festival July 10-19, 2015 featuring Mexican butoh artist Diego Pinon, a magnetic performer and teacher with roots in his native culture and Japanese butoh masters Kazuo Ohno and Min Tanaka. The theme of this year’s festival is “Investigating the Global Body” through the cross-pollination of Mexican Shamanism and Japanese butoh. DAIPANbutoh Collective’s mission is to bring stimulating, provocative, and exceptional performances, workshops and forums to the diverse communities of the Northwest and beyond. This summer DAIPAN invites people to attend its celebration of the Latino spirit, strength and passion.

Performances are July 17 & 18, 2015 at 8 pm at the Broadway Performance Hall, 1625 Broadway with a solo performance by Mr. Pinon and a new work by DAIPANbutoh Collective. Well-known musician Stephen Fandrich and costume designer Deborah Skorstad will join DAIPAN’s collaboration.

Prices are Adult $22 and Student/Senior $18. Tickets are available at the door or at

Diego will be a guest choreographer for Joan Laage’s free annual Wandering & Wondering event at the Kubota Garden on July 19, 2015 from 12-3 pm. Kubota Garden is at 9817 55th Ave S. Diego will also be teaching a workshop July 10-12, 2015 at the Taoist Studies Institute, 225 N 70th St. Sign up through

Contact: Joan Laage at or 206 729 2054
DAIPAN is a Shunpike partner and our festival is supported this year by grants from 4Culture and the City of Seattle Office of Arts & Culture.

1. )  七夕 • Tanabata Festival in Seattle Japanese Garden - this Saturday, July 11, 11am - 3 pm:  performances, origami, zen gardens and lots of other children activities, as always...
Tanabata (七夕?, meaning "Evening of the seventh"), also known as the Star Festival, is a Japanese festival originating from the Chinese Qixi Festival.[1] It celebrates the meeting of the deities Orihime and Hikoboshi (represented by the stars Vega and Altair respectively). According to legend, the Milky Way separates these lovers, and they are allowed to meet only once a year on the seventh day of the seventh lunar month of the lunisolar calendar. The date of Tanabata varies by region of the country, but the first festivities begin on July 7 of the Gregorian calendar. [...]  More here

3.)  JAPANOLOGY Japanese garden:

Hi Aleks,

Can you upload/link this on your blog.  I highly recommend looking at this to learn basics of Japanese Garden.

Koichi Kobayashi

Visiting Research Fellow
Hyogo Prefectural University

Thank you, Koichi! The link will take the reader to series of tv programs by NHK world (or via youtube). From NHK description:  [...] This time on Japanology Plus, our theme is Japanese gardens, compact evocations of nature's majesty. Japan has many garden styles: from tea gardens, to the dry gardens of Zen Buddhism, to the pocket gardens of city-dwellers. Our expert guest is Takahiro Naka, a professor of garden history who is actively involved in garden design and restoration projects around the country. And in Plus One, a Japanese rock garden that fits on your tabletop. [...]

4.) More butoh at Seattle Japanese Garden:

SJG • Wandering & Wondering 2014; photo by Briana Jones
Free annual Wandering & Wondering event at the Seattle Japanese  Garden this year takes place on August 16, 2-5 pm.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Japanese Gardens Abroad

SJG • 6/22/15

How can we respond to a question of 
"What is Japanese Garden?” 
in a simple and clear manner for Japanese gardens outside of Japan?

by Koichi Kobayashi, June 2015

I started writing this paper to create an introduction as to how best to develop, design andfoster Japanese gardens abroad.

Japanese garden has been said to be an important aspects of Japanese culture which nurtures international understanding and friendship. Many Japanese gardens have been built as products of attraction to things oriental, government public relations in form of expositions , friendship-sister city relationship, showing of wealth of individuals and others over the years in America and in Europe.

Even though these initial roles still exist, today the role of public and private Japanese gardens, especially in North America has expanded beyond landscaping and recreation; they are used in commercial settings, for weddings and events, for cultural programs for professional medical therapy and more.

I am, however, observing recurrent problems at some gardens facing changes in a name of making the gardens adapting to modern requirements and sustainability contrary o the soul of Japanese garden and problems in creation of gardens which astray from the soul of Japanese garden in my understanding.

I truly believe we should come back to the following to challenge questions:
What is Japanese garden (in Japan ) ? and
What is Japanese garden abroad?

I am staring this inquest by searching for answers to:How can we respond to a question of

“What is Japanese Garden?” in a simple and clear manner for gardens outside of Japan?
Or is that possible, productive and meaningful?

Section 1. Introduction
Although I have been involved in studying, designing, caring and visiting Japanese gardens in Japan and abroad over the years , I have come to point needing to deepen my understanding on “What is Japanese Garden?”, especially for creating and fostering of

gardens outside of Japan. In order to do that, I have come to realize that I need to be able to describe Japanese Garden in a simple and as much a clear manner in achieving this.

That is the reason why I have started writing this paper.

I have started it first by learning and exploring basics of Japanese gardens based on existing literature written by many scholars and professionals from Japan and abroad. Some of the literature I reviewed are listed in bibliography attached.

Subjects matters reviewed included the following: Basics of Japanese garden: Principles, Technology, Elements and Styles.But this examination of existing literature has still not given me a satisfying answer but only a beginning.…………

On my way home from the Second Conference of the North American Japanese Garden Association in Chicago, 2014, I came to realize that I have been evading an important question on Japanese Garden. The question is “What is Japanese Garden (Abroad)” and how you define it.

A number of us, Canadian (German), American(Japanese), and British sat around a lunchtable at historic Oak Park after touring residence of Frank Lloyd Wright and started talking about on what makes Japanese Style Garden. There has been continuing discussion on Japanese Style Garden and Japanese influenced/inspired Garden. I remember that we had a round table discussion session on this subject at the Fourth International Japanese Garden Symposium in Seattle, 2004. Prior to the symposium I distributed a questionnaire on this subject to help guiding the discussion. Survey outline and findings from this survey are briefed in the following section.

At the lunch table I told my friends that I recall two occasions when I found a sensation of experiencing Japanese Garden: one at a time entering into the forest of high country in Yosemite and the second when visiting a private residential garden designed by James Rose in Ridgewood, New Jersey. The garden did not have any trimmings of traditional Japanese Garden but there was a spirit. What were they that I felt? My understanding of Japanese garden at that time was limited as compared to today. I must have relied mostly on my spatial and aesthetic sensitivity on landscape space as much the same way as Professor Garrett Eckbo explained his way of seeing Japanese garden.

I hastily develop a survey in order to find the answer to this difference as shown below before the 2014 conference and mailed them to potential Japanese respondents and other friends.

I would like to challenge you to share your knowledge and wisdom. I would be delighted to have your continuing support. You could fill in an attached table and answer few questions on Japanese Garden.

At Japanese Garden, there exists following characteristic as contrasted to other gardens in Europe, America, and others:
A. It is naturalistic in space, form and texture
B. It is curve linear in form and shape
C. It recalls natural scenery ( famous/historical location)
D. It recalls religious teaching 
E. It is symbolic/miniature.
F. It has dynamic balance and asymmetry
G. When entering a garden, it does not reveal whole.
H. It contains traditional landscape furnishing such as lantern, bridge etc.
I. It consists of traditional landscape elements such as earth, water and feature vegetation.
J. It heals your soul and mind....

The rest of article is here:  (you have to register at Academia, it's free):

SJG • 5/2/15

Monday, June 15, 2015

Moss viewing & 'Myogi' azalea

by aleks
SJG • 6/14/15 - Moss in Area S, behind the azumaya...Maggie got the name from Patty,
the senior gardener: probably Polatrichum commune
-  the stems appearing like a Cryptomeria Tree.

• MOSS:  One of the most frequent questions from visitors is about moss in the Garden: so much of it, but it is not even listed in the Plant List...  So the Plant Committee decided to take closer look at it, and 'look' is about all we got so far:  books got opened, libraries visited and great email discussion on the moss ensued.  According to local literature (Arthur Lee Jacobson: 'The Crytogamic Carpet --Mosses in Seattle' ) we might have about 100+ or more different mosses here, and nobody seems really that interested to study them.  Found The world of Mosses, which lists 430+ different mosses for Ontario!

SJG • 6/14/15 - shaggy, carpet like moss in tea House Garden (Area W) 

So a couple of days ago I took my camera and signed myself for 'moss viewing' at the gate; what I found was most fascinating:  we have at least 4-5 different kinds of moss on the ground: some short, looking like tiny stars, same longer, thick and shaggy like a carpet, and some wavy/curly, appearing like bunch of spiders on the ground.

SJG • 6/14/15 - spider-like braided curly moss on the hill at the end of ZZE

And then, of course, there is a moss on the trees... I don't think I even want to venture there, before we figure out what kind of mosses we have on the ground; but I took a few pics.

SJG • 6/14/15 - moss on osmanthus x burkwoodii tree in D

Edit 6/16/15: to add to references from Maggie on moss:

1.)  her favorite book for identifying mosses in the NW: 'Plants of the Pacific Northwest Coast: Washington, Oregon, British Columbia and Alaska' by By Andy MacKinnon & Jim Pojar (link will take you to Elliot Bookstore)
2.) link to Zen Garden in Netherland, where she found a very informative webpage on grand-covers, including moss

• 'MYOGI' azalea: finally caught blooming!  It lives in a long clump in Area B, along the connector path, listed as 'corolla white', and eluded me for a number of years. This year  it bloomed mid June and is indeed white with small pink sections here and there. Very beautiful!

SJG • 6/14/15 - Rhodeodendron indium 'Myogi', azalea - Area B

SJG • 6/14/15 - bonus picture for your enjoyment:  little visitors on a stepping stone ...

Monday, June 1, 2015

子供の日 • kodomo no hi (Children’s Day) 2015

SJG • 5/31/15 - sumi-e painting

The Sixth Month
rokugatsu ya mine ni kumo oku arashiyama

sixth month—
clouds resting on the peaks
of Arashiyama

-Basho.  From:  Bonsai, PIE Books, Tokyo, 2011, 
translated by Emiko Miyashita and Michael Dylan Welch

SJG • 5/31/15 - aikido demonstration

by aleks
Another wonderful children's day in Seattle Japanese Garden, and this year we had several new activities: youth aikido demonstration (with audience volunteer participation),  Iaido sword demonstration, haiku workshops for children,  show-and-tell presentation of a day in the life of a child in Japan and sumi-e water color painting.

SJG • 5/31/15 - miniature zen gardens

Previous year shows and activities were met with usual enthusiasm: Kaze Daiko drum performance, origami workshops, puppet show, koi feeding, building miniature zen gardens, scavenger hunt and koinobori (carp streamer) making. 

SJG • 5/31/15 -  origami workshop

For grown-up children we had two garden tours, and frankly some of the adults seemed jealous of being excluded from certain hands-on activities:  I saw several grown-ups at the origami and zen garden tables folding paper and raking sand on the sly, while small kid's attention went to puppet, aikido or sword shows and had one adult man asking me where the pagoda is - he was enjoying a scavenger hunt, I'm sure to 'help' his kid :) (which was nowhere to be seen around)...

SJG • 5/31/15 - Iaido sword demonstration

SJG • 5/31/15 - while haiku master is away giving workshop at the meadow, Thomas and Sarah mind the haiku station

SJG • 5/31/15 - koinobori making
SJG • 5/31/15 - koi feeding