Thursday, April 23, 2015

Scenes from the garden

by aleks
SJG • 4/21/15 - fiery orange r. kaempheri lining up the path to waterfall

I was in the garden to catch a few pics to update  the Plant List blog and for the first time I was comfortable enough to look at the patterns in planting (the horticultural information is pretty intimidating for me, and for the last several years I was barely at the level of identifying singular plants and not much looking at the overall design).

SJG • 4/21/15 - r. 'Bouquet rose' on the bend, ''arnoldiana'on the wall in the north

in 1960 Juki Iida, the designer of our garden, was given over 160 rhododendrons from Arboretum to play with; he thought it was a bit too many, and at this time of the year, and 55 years later, I can understand his trouble:  the garden looks like a rhododendron park, and not really Japanese style garden. Still pretty though.

SJG • 4/21/15 - I take this pic of the benches under azaleas several times a year...

When we guide people around the garden we tell stories: some are about the concepts of Japanese garden, other stories are about the art and poems connected with it, and yet another about architectural gifts the garden carries.

SJG • 4/21/15 - the turtles don't care...  hey are just sunning themselves up

But sometimes it is OK to be silent and quiet about it; just look, be peaceful and part of it :).

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Photographs and Memories

by Cara I.; pics by aleks
One of the first tours I led this season was of a group of older adults from a residential community. When I met the group and their leader, they expressed some familiarity with gardens, Japan, and even the Seattle Japanese Garden, so it was with anticipation of learning from them that I started our garden stroll.

Stepping on the threshold stone, we shed our outside cares away and walked into the garden. Individuals noticed the pines, the dry stream bed. I spoke of the ‘hide and reveal’ principle in Juki Iida’s design of the garden.

The group leader said that one member, Sally, was here in 1960 when the garden was built; in fact, Sally’s husband had helped to build it. He was one of the Japanese American gardeners on Juki Iida’s team that constructed the garden. What a wonderful opportunity to hear about that group of gardeners, whose assistance was invaluable to create what we see in the garden today, 55 years later!

The stone is there (in the water to the R of the men), but not the lantern on it yet ... The archival photo was taken during the construction in spring of 1960; Aleks found it at the Miller Library. The original photographer is unknown.

Sally said the garden looks very different now, noting the maturity of plants and the weathering of stone elements her husband had helped to place. She shared a story about observing the construction one day. She remembered her husband in the pond with a heavy lantern, patiently following Iida’s instructions to move it this way and that till it was placed exactly on a stone as the designer wished it. “It was that one,” she said, pointing to the yukimi-toro (snow-viewing lantern) on the south shore of the pond, a favorite lantern in the garden for many visitors and certainly one of the most-photographed due to its mossy cap, the probable consequence of its placement at the shoreline and the direction it faces.

Similar angle, the pic taken in spring 2011; the zigzag bridge is to the north and stone peninsula to the right.  The lantern  has now been sitting on the stone for 55 years - or since Sally's husband helped to place it there.

That day in 1960, Sally took a photo of her husband, crouched low in the pond to avoid blocking the designer’s view and still be able to move the lantern. She really liked that photo, although it's become misplaced over the years, she mentioned. As she shared her memory of that day, I knew I'd think of Sally and her husband every time I see the yukimi-toro from now on.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

SPRING, pretty Spring...

The Fourth Month
aratōto aoba wakaba no hi no hikari

how brilliant—
leaves both green and young
in the sun’s light

From: Twelve haiku translations from Bonsai, PIE Books, Tokyo, 2011, 
translated by Emiko Miyashita and Michael Dylan Welch

SJG • 4/7/15 - our Lace-leaf maples are leafing out...  (here in C, also in B)

by aleks
I took a stroll around the Garden today: very pretty spring, although a bit confused Mother Nature is putting out some blooms early and ahead of time, after unusually warm winter in Seattle... And some May rhodies are already out, too, gasp!

SJG • 4/7/15 - our exquisite royal azalea, aka
Botanical Name: Rhod. 'Schlippenbachii' (pink) in many areas... 

Stopped to talk to our gardener, Miriam, and she mentioned that crows are demolishing our moss, as they find their food underneath, too:  larvae and grubs.  Much too early in the year....

Other than that our Japanese Garden is so, so very pretty now!  I'm including a few pics for all of you to enjoy...

SJG •  Canada geese enjoying the view on moon viewing  platform...

After getting entangled in the Plant Committee activities and the lives of plants for the last several years, I'm trying to get back and learn more about Japanese Garden CULTURAL roots.  Found a book, titled 'The Art of Japanese Garden', by David and Michiko Young...

Very, very helpful: it  covers the basic history, principles and aesthetics of Japanese Gardens.  You can check the readers' reviews on amazon (sorry for linking  to them, but at least you hear from the real readers, and then please buy from a local bookstore).

SJG • 4/7/15 - crabapples blossoms in the Orchard (Area U)

Edit: Maggie C. noted  that the garden looks appropriately splendid 
for Buddha's birthday today, April 8th!

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Enlightenment Guaranteed, 1999 film in Tateuchi Community Room tomorrow

by aleks
REMINDER:  tomorrow at noon, in TCR: 'Enlightenment Guaranteed', 1999: understated comedy about two middle-aged brothers who go to study at a Zen monastery in Japan. The two brothers could not be more different. Uwe (Uwe Ochsenknecht) is a bored husband and kitchenware salesman, while Gustav (Gustav Peter Wohler) is a flighty feng shui consultant and Eastern religions devotee. Just as Gustav is preparing to leave for the land of the rising sun, Uwe, whose wife just dumped him, begs his brother to let him tag along.…

It's for SJG volunteers, staff and their friends - if you are interested come and become my friend for a few hours.

SJG • 3/29/15 - Rhododendron 'Brocade', photo by Tony

"Sometimes movies transcend their descriptions. Who would want to see a German film about a couple of brothers heading for Japan to visit a Zen monastery? Surely there can't be much of interest in that, you might think as I certainly did.

Well, there's a lot, as it turns out. Writer/director Doris Dörrie's ENLIGHTENMENT GUARANTEED (ERLEUCHTUNG GARANTIERT) is a sweet, funny and absolutely delightful film about brotherly love, the meaning of life and the importance of a sense of humor in the face of adversity. Think of it as a low-key version of PLANES, TRAINS & AUTOMOBILES in which the humorous and touching journey is the reward. The story has a pervasive but subtle spirituality to it as the destination for these brothers turns out to be more than just a place on a map. (Actually, the lack of a good map is but one of many of their problems.)...."
From review by Steve Rhodes - the rest is here....

More reviews here...     & Trailer below.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

UW hanami 2015 and 'Invitation to a probably a most memorable travel to Japan' (repost)

by Koichi Kobayashi
(+ pics from 2015 hanami at UW, Seattle)

3/13/15 - UW hanami: Yoshinos

Invitation to a probably a most memorable travel to Japan

You are invited to join in a select group of people to participate in assisting building a memorial Japanese Garden to commemorate victims of tsunami/earthquake of March 11, 2011 in Tohoku, Japan and recovery from it. Garden building project is organized by Japanese Garden Association as a 5 year program. You will receive training from traditional Japanese gardeners who supervise building and will befriend with young Japanese gardeners from all around Japan as well.

After garden building, we will visit gardens and temples of World Heritage, designation,  coastal cities undergoing recovery and coastline area which is designated as a new National Park. Travel will start from Seattle on October 8 through 22 ending in Tokyo.  Optional travel goes to Kyoto/Osaka.

Supported by Seattle Japanese Garden Society, Japanese Garden Society (Tokyo) and assisted by North American Japanese Garden Association. ( confirmation is pending at this time).

There are many of you who have benefited overtime being associated with Japan or apprenticed and studied in Japan, yet some of you including myself, who do not know how to assist Tohoku, Japan for their recovery from disasters of March 11, 9011, in some meaningful and constructive way.

There is a unique opportunity to assist in building a Japanese Garden near Sendai, Miyagi Prefecture. This garden, when completed, will be a memorial and prayer for victims of disaster and commemorate their efforts in recovery and future development.

Designing and building of this garden is organized by Sendai Chapter of the Japanese Garden Society. It is being built on a five year program with a completion date set at 2019 to coincide with
the society's 100 year anniversary.

This is an excellent opportunity for those thinking and pondering how best to participate in recovery in Tohoku but mutually beneficial. You could attempt to do that in signing up  for a work study and volunteer program being developed by Koichi Kobayashi with an assistance from Japanese Garden Society and NAJGA.

With this program, participants will engage in assisting building a commemorative Japanese garden under Japanese expert's supervision, visiting and learning conditions and people of cities devastated.

This is the base program for thirteen days. There could be an optional tour to Kyoto, for five days. Program start will start on October 8, 2015 in Sendai with October 8 departure from Seattle. Cost will be around $4,800.

If you are interested in joining, please send me your name, address, email, work place, profession etc. to Koichi Kobayashi.

For preliminary itinerary, see next page.

Koichi Kobayashi

Ph. 206- 2869644

December 20, 2014
3/16/15 - yoshinos 

Preliminary Itinerary:

Base Plan

Day 1:  Departure from Seattle (Delta Air) Departure date is October 8, 2015.

Day 2:  Arrival in Tokyo  and orientation

Day 3:  Transfer to Sendai & Introduction to Garden Building

Day 4:  Garden Building

Day 5:  Garden Building ( Presentation on Japanese gardens in North America by participants)

Day 6:  Garden Building and Farewell Party ( Oct. 13)

Day 7:  Tour Sendai and Matsushima

Day 8: Transfer to and tour Hiraizumi/Moutsuji Temple

Day 9: Tour Hiraizumi/Moutsuji Temple) and surroundings

Day 10: Transfer to Rikuzentakata ( Undergoing massive construction with a new park)

Day 11: Learn Rikuzentakata and tour surrounding coastline ( New National Park)

Day 12: Departure from Rikuzentakata to Tokyo( Free on your own in PM)

Day 13: Leave for Seattle ( Delta Air)
3/22/15 - UW hanami: quanzans

Option Plan

For those going to Kyoto area:

Day 13:  Departure from Rikuzentakata to Kyoto

Day 14:  Kyoto: Town, Temples and Gardens

Day 15:  Kyoto

Day 16:  Nara/Osaka

Day 17:  Leave for Seattle from Kansai Air Port (Osaka)

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Film event: Chushingura

by Cara I.
Last week, the 2015 Seattle Japanese Garden Continuing Education Program for docents began when docents and friends gathered to watch Chushingura ('Treasure House of Loyalty'), a movie about what has been called the national story of Japan.

The story is based on historical events 300 years ago, centering on feudal lord Asano of Ako in central Japan. He was in the capital city of Edo (modern-day Tokyo) in 1701 when he drew his sword and injured a senior official, Lord Kira, who was purported to have insulted him. For this act, Lord Asano was ordered to commit ritual suicide; his land and holdings were taken away from his clan.

A group of loyal vassals, led by Oishi Kuranosuke, secretly planned to avenge their lord's death and restore the clan's honor - it took two years of preparation, but on a wintry night in 1703, they broke into Kira's home and killed him. After succeeding in their revenge, the vassals committed ritual suicide.

Today, their graves are continually visited in Tokyo, and statues in Ako memorialize what many consider their loyal or dutiful act.

The story of these events has been told in many media, including kabuki plays, ballet, TV shows, graphic novels, and feature films. The 1962 film we saw last week may be the most visually beautiful and artistic of the eight films based on it (beginning with the 1907 film of a Kabuki play and including the 2012 fantasy starring Keanu Reeves).

Directed by Hiroshi Inagaki, its 207-minute length, including a built-in intermission, allows audiences to view exquisitely filmed scenes of "gorgeous art works, buildings, and costumes of 18th century Japan" as an all-star cast including Toshiro Mifune present this "richly woven" story, according to Mike O'Brien in the Wikipedia entry on the film. Impressive scenes of Edo-era gardens give glimpses of what may have inspired the design of our own Seattle Japanese Garden.

Following the showing, the docents shared our reactions to the film, and to the deeply personal conflict of obligations, loyalty, depicted in it.  Although the story took place in 18th century Japan, that universal conflict is engaging to people everywhere, certainly to the group gathered last week!

The full name of the Inagaki-directed 1962 film is Chushingura: Hana no Maki, Yuki no Maki, and a 6-minute trailer of it can be seen here: