Friday, July 14, 2017

Our granddaughters

by aleks
Sophie and Ellie, docent Lynnda L.'s and my granddaughters, meet every summer  in the Seattle Japanese garden - we created a tradition for the girls to visit each other while exploring the garden.  This year Lynnda created a book for Sophie, memorizing several years of those visits -  the girls looked at the book while having an after tour snack.


SJG • 7/5/17 -Sophie, her little brother Nick and Ellie feed the koi

SJG • 7/5/17 -Ellie reading Sophie's book about their Garden visits

SJG • 7/5/17 - the annual 'bridge' picture - this year fantastically bombed by our  Master Gardener, Pete Putnicki :)



For the Lynnda's entire adorable book for Sophie go here (sorry, some pages copied upside down - don't know how to fix it, but you can still read them!)


P.S. I'll post links to posts about their previous Garden visits later tonight.

Monday, July 3, 2017

July 5th, noon: BOOK CLUB: Thousand Cranes by Yasunari Kawabata

by aleks
SJG - 5/31/17 - Miriam, our Gardener, sheering the azaleas

Our Book Club meets this Wednesday at noon at TCR to discuss ''Thousand Cranes' (千羽鶴 Senbazuru, 1952), by Nobel Prize laureate Yasunari Kawabata and translated by Edward G. Seidensticker.

From wikipedia: [...] Set in a post World War II Japan, the protagonist, Kikuji, has been orphaned by the death of his mother and father. He becomes involved with one of the former mistresses of his father, Mrs. Ota, who commits suicide seemingly for the shame she associates with the affair. After Mrs. Ota's death, Kikuji then transfers much of his love and grief over Mrs Ota's death to her daughter, Fumiko. [...]

I agree with this thought from a review posted on 'Japanese Literature Book Group': [...] The novels by Kawabata, more than any of the other Japanese classics I’ve read, really make me regret the fact that I can’t read in Japanese. His writing is just so sparse and poetic. Although the translation does a good job at trying to portray the artistry behind the words, it simply must be more beautiful and meaningful in the original Japanese. I’ve heard Kawabata’s writing described as brush strokes, like writing haiku in traditional Japanese calligraphy, and I think that is a very apt description. [...]

Here a picture and about Shino ware (water jar), featured in the book...

From M.A.Orthofer, 20 January 2013 Review of the book: [...] An effective story of deep emotion and suffocatingly binding personal ties (that still exert a hold even after death), Thousand Cranes is uncomfortably but powerfully understated -- with the slightly stilted feel of the translation working quite well as well here. Presented like the smooth surface of a body of water, the roiling underneath is suggested but barely shown, leaving much for the reader to read into the text, as Kawabata presents a surprisingly deep, layered, and disturbing story in such a short space and with such simple brushstrokes. [...]

As much as I enjoyed the book and particularly the topic of Japan in 1950s being a transient state between cultural practices of the past and beginning to adopt western cultural and social customs, the words from the above review by Orthofer struck me as reflecting my own reading experience of this masterpiece: suffocating, uncomfortable and disturbing - but obviously that was the author's intent, so not unhappy about getting into his head for this reading journey :)...

If you are an over-thinker, and like to analyze everything in depth, this Eslkevin's Blog post titled 'THOUSAND CRANES, BEAUTY, WAR, WARES and SUICIDES' will be really up your ally - i know I appreciated every thought in it.  {About eslkevin: I am a peace educator who has taken time to teach and work in countries such as the USA, Germany, Japan, Nicaragua, Mexico, the UAE, Kuwait, Oman over the past 4 decades.}.

So, book lovers: see you Wednesday at noon at TCR!

SJG - 5/31/17 - blooming irises


Monday, June 19, 2017

Saving Legacy of Seko Garden in Bellevue, WA.

by Koichi Kobayashi   
小林 竑一

Visiting Research Fellow
University of Hyogo, Japan

(Draft June 19, 2017)


 Japanese Gardens have been stages historically for illustrating Japanese art and culture at many places around the world.  The Japanese garden at Seko residence on the shore of the Phantom Lake in the City of Bellevue is no exception, however being held in private ownership.  The garden has held a number of community events and it has been an important asset for Japanese American community and for the citizens of the city of Bellevue overtime.



 Kaichi Seko born in 1896 in Japan and immigrated to the USA in 1920 ? started building his residence and garden shortly after his release from the Japanese Internment Cap at Minidoka, Idaho in late 1950s. A number of Japanese gardens were built in the camp.
Kaichi must have seen or being associated with a number of Japanese gardens created in the camp, guided by such gardener as Fujitaro Kubota, who designed and constructed Kubota Japanese garden in Seattle.

The Seko garden in Bellevue had been designed and constructed primarily by Kaichi and his son, Roy, who initially wanted to be a landscape architect before joining his father in opening and managing Bush Garden Restaurant in Seattle.

Their garden works had been assisted by Richard Yamasaki, who gained his knowledge on Japanese garden through his life long association with Juki Iida, who is  one of the designer of the Seattle Japanese Garden at UW Arboretum. Upon visiting the Seko garden, Juki Iida stated to Joan Seko, wife of Roy, that he sees three personalities in the garden: that of  Kaichi, Roy and Richard Yamasaki.


Joan Seko wrote her memory on the garden as “Kaichi Seko’s bonsai plants were already twenty to thirty years old when they were planted. The large alpine tree was bought to the house probably around 1965. It was still quite small but has grown to be very tall. It is very hardy and has withstood many snow storms and icy weather.The waterfall pump was installed in in 1980’s as well as the low voltage night lighting. The pump water is from Phantom Lake and recycles back into the lake when used. Even during the water shortage times we were able to use the waterfall since it was not using City of Bellevue water. The carps were put into the pond nearest the house in the early 1960’s. They grew to be around three foot long. We had a wire net over the pond to keep the wild animals away until they grew to be very large. In 2002 my children gave us small carps to put into the pond but they quickly died without any rhyme or reason. Maybe there wasn’t enough oxygen available. We have many water lilies and cattails. People fishing could get twenty fish in one hour with no problems. Phantom Lake is a private lake owned by people who have shoreline properties. The county made it into a public lake when they wanted to put trout into it. When the lake had public access we had many people come in with boats and tossing beer cans and bottles into the lake instead of disposing of them. The owners were up in arms and signed petitions and finally got the lake back as being private. The shoreline property owners pay taxes for partial lake bottom ownership. The county also comes in each year to make certain the shoreline owners get rid of the purple strife flowering plants that has been brought in from Europe. Although very pretty it is detrimental to our waterline and spreads its seeds quickly. We get a notice each year to remove the roots so they will not come back readily. [...]

The entire text and supporting documents are at link below (free to sign up and create password to enjoy all the articles there):


Monday, May 15, 2017

“From up on Poppy Hill” film this Wednesday in TCR

By aleks

“From up on Poppy Hill” (2011), 1 hour 31 minutes, by director Gorō Miyazaki -  We will view and discuss it  on Wednesday, May 17, from noon to 4, in the Tateuchi Community Room.

Yokohama, 1963. Japan is picking itself up from the devastation of World War II and preparing to host the Olympics. The mood is one of both optimism and conflict as the young generation struggles to throw off the shackles of a troubled past. Against this backdrop of hope and change, a friendship begins to blossom between high school students Umi and Shun—but a buried secret from their past emerges to cast a shadow on the future and pull them apart.

The film brings back Kyu Sakamoto's 1960s song 'Ue o Muite Arukou' - in Anglophone countries, it is best known under the alternative title "Sukiyaki", a term with no relevance to the song's lyrics, as sukiyaki is a Japanese dish of cooked beef.

The song reached the top of the Billboard Hot 100 charts in the United States in 1963, one of the few non-Indo-European languages' songs to have done so. Below video-trailer are words in Romaji and English translation, (curtesy of Anime Lyrics), so you can sing along:






Original / Romaji LyricsEnglish Translation
Ue wo muite arukou
Namida ga koborenai you ni
Omoidasu haru no hi
Hitoribocchi no yoru
I face up as I walk
So it's like my tears don't fall
I remember a Spring day
A night of loneliness
Ue wo muite arukou
Nijinda hoshi wo kazoete
Omoidasu natsu no hi
Hitoribocchi no yoru
I face up as I walk
Counting the blurry stars
I remember a Summer day
A night of loneliness
Shiawase wa kumo no ue ni
Shiawase wa sora no ue ni
Happiness is above the clouds
Happiness is above the sky
Ue wo muite arukou
Namida ga koborenai you ni
Nakinagara aruku
Hitoribocchi no yoru
I face up as I walk
So it's like my tears don't fall
I walk while crying
A night of loneliness
*whistles**Whistling*
Omoidasu aki no hi
Hitoribocchi no yoru
I remember an Autumn day
A night of loneliness
Kanashimi wa hoshi no kage ni
Kanashimi wa tsuki no kage ni
Sadness is in the shadow of a star
Sadness is in the shadow of a moon
Ue wo muite arukou
Namida ga koborenai you ni
Nakinagara aruku
Hitoribocchi no yoru
Hitoribocchi no yoru
I face up as I walk
So it's like my tears don't fall
I walk while crying
A night of loneliness
A night of loneliness

SJG • 4/30/17 - blooming azaleas

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Book Club this Wednesday + UW Quad hanami about 20% in

by aleks
Reminder about our book club meeting this MARCH 29—Wednesday—Noon–2:30
BOOK: Midnight in Broad Daylight (2016), by Pamela Rotner Sakamota

UW Quad •  3/26/17 - Yoshino cherry hanami started

UW Quad - • 3/26/17 - Yoshino cherries bursting out from the tree trunk

UW Quad - 3/26/17 - wet and pretty cherries

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

First Viewing 2017 in pictures

photos by Aurora Santiago.
For her complete collection go to her Flicr account...

SJG • 3/5/17 - First Viewing Shinto blessing; photo by Aurora Santiago

SJG • 3/5/17 - First Viewing, Shinto altar; photo by Aurora Santiago

SJG • 3/5/17 - First Viewing, Shinto blessing; photo by Aurora Santiago
SJG • 3/5/17 - First Viewing;  photo by Aurora Santiago
SJG • 3/5/17 - First Viewing; photo by Aurora Santiago
THANKS, AURORA!