Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Wandering & Wondering, August 16, 2015

posted by aleks

Annual butoh event WANDERING AND WONDERING by Daipan Butoh Collective took place on Sunday, August 16: as people strolled though the garden they encountered dancers and musicians interacting almost seamlessly with the garden...

SJG • 8/16/15 - photo by Peggy Garber 

SJG • 8/16/15 - photo by Peggy Garber 
SJG • 8/16/15 - photo by Peggy Garber 
SJG • 8/16/15 - photo by Peggy Garber 
SJG • 8/16/15 - photo by Peggy Garber 
SJG • 8/16/15 - photo by Peggy Garber
SJG • 8/16/15 - photo by Peggy Garber 

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

“I will write peace on your wings and you will fly all over the world” - Sadako Sasaki

by aleks
8/5/215 - Sadako Sasaki sculpture in U-district: fresh 1000s cranes
I was on my way to visit Sadako Sasaki sculpture at U-district, for this 70th anniversary of Hiroshima/Nagasaki bombing - I wanted to see if, like each year, people left origami cranes at her hands and feet, to say they remember...

The car radio was playing an interview with a Japanese woman who was only 6 when the bomb was dropped: in one instant she lost her whole family: parents and sisters.  She run away from the blast and although it probably saved her life, she said she feels guilty for running away, and that she will almost certainly feel that way for the rest of her life.  So much pain in her voice....

She said she used to never talk about it, but now feels she needs to help to record the memory of it, before people forget.  So she is giving public talks, and even came to America, where she found people listening very intently to her account...  She never talked about it to her own family, too difficult.

8/5/2015: asked to join,  i happily did
When I got to the sculpture, there was an activity there: some buddhist monks and people with anti-nuclear banners were assembling, and Sadako had plenty of fresh crane origami.

I was asked to take a pic of the group with their camera: they are marching  Sun. Jul.26 to Mon. Aug.10, 2015 from Salem-Portland-Hanford-Olympia-Seattle-Bainbridge Is.-Bangor...  They were hailing from the Bainbridge Island Myohoji temple, and a high-school teacher (who regularly brings her student to SJG) was teaching how to do origami crane on the spot.  She had some beautiful already folded cranes as gifts: I and other passer-bys got each one to take home - now it's in my kitchen, to remember Sadako really well.
gift of crane/bookmark
I received from the group

Then they kindly asked me to join them:  which I did happily, together with a few other people who were either passing by or came with intent of looking at Sadako...  People in inching-by cars (it was a rush hour) took pictures of our little gathering on their smartphones and I wondered how  much the current earth people know about the past and why we were standing there....  For a whole 10-20 minutes I was a part of a group that gathered together to keep the memory of Hiroshima/Nagasaki alive:  a very connecting and strangely powerful and happy feeling.

When i got home I found an email  from my lit/latin  professor in poland:  she wrote about reading in the paper about a 6 years old girl who survived Hiroshima, Toshiko Tanaki...  I pondered  if we came across the same story today...

Peace Park with Sadako and the Thousand Cranes sculpture is managed by Seattle Parks and Recreation at NE 40th St & NE Pacific St, Seattle, 98105 (NW corner of the University Bridge :

Peace Park was the dream of Dr. Floyd Schmoe, who after winning the Hiroshima Peace Prize in 1998 used the $5,000 prize money to clear a small lot near the University of Washington. From a pile of wrecked cars, garbage, and brush, he worked with community volunteers to build the beautiful Peace Park.

Peace Park is the current home of the Sadako and the Thousand Cranes sculpture, created in 1990 by artist Daryl Smith. The statue is a life-size bronze of Sadako Sasaki, the young Japanese girl who survived the Hiroshima bombing only to die of radiation sickness at age 12. [...]'

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