Sunday, March 25, 2012

Sakura, Sakura. UW yoshino cherry blossoms 2012

by aleks [click on the pics to see them larger]

UW Quad • 3/22/12 - cherry blossoms 

They are about half way through.  Some already fully opened. Others still waiting and lurking in their buds. Yoshino blossoms that is, in the grove of mature cherry trees at UW Quad.

Let me bring up here Keiko's link to Quad Cherry Blossom Watch (posted on Facebook by University of Washington Visitors Center), buried down in the comments under Lynnda's great post about 'Winter work completed';  thank you, Keiko!  People are posting pics of the blossoms as the days go by, so for those of you who can't come, here it is - you can monitor their daily progress, blow by blow:

UW Quad • 3/22/12 - fun with the cherry blossoms

Stopped to look at them yesterday afternoon, and so did half of Seattle, it seems :)... Crowds of people, taking pics and just milling under the blossoms...  Waiting..  Viewing... Contemplating...  or  just being there.  There is no cherry blossom snow yet, but the ornamental plums are lightly snowing now.

UW Quad • 3/24/12 - Sakura, sakura

We shared the elevator back to the UW parking lot with a large, 3-generational family: from a joyfully jumping toddler in her Sunday's best to a set of grandparents; they looked very happy so I asked: are you here to see the cherries? They all nodded, smiling and the the Middle of the family (mother?) answered: 'YES!' Are you coming every day?  'No, but we will be here next weekend'.   That's probably the time to come, Joe in Aberdeen - mankai time :)

UW Quad • 3/24/12 - waiting for mankai

Just looked into my 'Daily Issa' inbox: found this gem, courtesy of David Lanoue:

"Be brave, cherry blossoms 
and fall!" 
the little trout

kokoro shite sakura chire-chire ayu ko ayu


by Issa, 1810

I assume that these encouraging words are being spoken by a little trout in a stream under the tree(s), hence the quotation marks. [DL]

• • • • • •
And here Yo-Yo  Ma playing beautiful traditional Japanese folk song, 'Sakura, Sakura':

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Art classes, changes in annual pass categories and Chado presentations

by aleks
This will be one long but informative post - the info here is known to all SJG volunteers via email from Thomas or Myrna, posted here to further spread public awareness of these programs and all the changes.  All info below comes from Thomas's email.  
How to register for classes?  Go to SPARK - Online Registration and either put the barcode of the class you are interested in the dialog window to take you directly there, or click 'Programs' (above the dialog window) to browse for courses. For Chado presentation make reservations at the SJG gate at (206) 684-4725.  Today's pics are not of SJG, but UW quad, where the plums and the grove of yoshino cherries are putting on their annual show - the plums are in full bloom and the cherries are only beginning; tomorrow will start 'UW yoshino watch' post - they usually bloom for about 2 weeks, so if you happen to be in the UW quad area check them out.

 UW quad • 3/20/2012  - ornamental plum blossom 

• Art Classes at the Seattle Japanese Garden

Introduction to Ikebana $76
The beauty of this art form, Ikebana, is its simplicity. It can be done anywhere, anytime, and with anything you can find. The basic Sogetsu curriculum teaches you principles of space, balance, color to help you develop the artistic sense you'll need to create freestyle arrangements on your own. So grab a pair of scissors and be prepared to be amazed by your own creativity. Please bring the $10 material fee and the $10 donation to the facility to the first class. Instructor: Fanny Yau
Location: Japanese Garden
#83507    5/8 - 5/29   Tue 10 a.m. - Noon
Location: Japanese Garden
#83510    6/5 - 6/26   Tue 10 a.m. - Noon

Watercolor at the Japanese Garden $75
Explore the beauty of the Japanese Garden through watercolor painting, drawing your inspiration from the nature around you. The focus of this class will be the spring garden. Students are encouraged to bring to class the materials they have at home for the first class.  The instructor will bring extra materials for first time artists and cover material needs for the first class. Please bring the $10 donation for the Japanese Garden to be collected at first class. Instructor: Jan Morris
Location: Japanese Garden Tateuchi Community Room
#83584    4/11 - 5/16   Wed 3 - 5 p.m.

Drawing the Landscape $65
Welcome spring by drawing the Japanese Garden, exploring both wet and dry materials. The emphasis of the class is on bold strokes and dynamic drawing skills through the use of oil pastels, charcoal, watercolor pencils and graphite, which will help students create striking work. The instructor will create elements of surprise with unlikely combinations of materials.  Instructor: Siri Kroesen
Location: Japanese Garden
85075 Fri 4/13 – 5/4 1 – 3 p.m.

UW quad • 3/20/2012  - ornamental plum in full bloom

 • 2012 Membership Program Change-Pilot Projects

Seattle Parks and Recreation’s Japanese Garden is expanding our annual pass offerings to include a discounted student rate and annual memberships for amateur and professional photographers.

$30:     Family/Dual Membership - entitles the cardholder to:
• Two membership cards (One primary card with an individual’s name on it and a second card for an adult guest of the primary cardholder)
• Admission for one adult per card, per visit, plus up to three kids younger than 18.
Two adults, per membership, per visit

$20:     Individual Membership - entitles the cardholder to:
• One membership card
Admission for one adult per card, per visit

$15      Student Membership – NEW! - entitles the cardholder to:
• One membership card (You need to show a student ID from any college/university/ educational institution when you purchase this membership to get the student discount)
One student per card per visit

$75:     Photographer Membership – NEW! - entitles the cardholder to:
• One membership card.
One photographer per card per visit.
Benefits of a Photographer Membership include:    
• One year’s admission to the Garden and photo shoots (without tripods) during Garden operating hours.
• Designated monthly photographer members-only access hours during eight months of the year (from March through November). The Garden will be open on these dates in 2012 for Members: every third Thursday each month from 8 to10 a.m. (March – October) and every first Saturday each month from 8 to 10 a.m. (March – November).
• Full rights to sell your Seattle Japanese Garden photos.
• Members will receive invitations to participate in additional sessions during peak Spring and Fall color, and will be advised of dates and times when scheduled.
• The opportunity to use the Garden’s meeting room (subject to fees, approvals, and availability)
• 2012 photographer schedule:
April 7 and 19; May 5 and 17; June 2 and 21; July 7 and 19; August 4 and 16; September 1 and 20; October 6 and 18; November 3

UW quad • 3/20/2012  - yoshino cherry trees in pregnant  pink cloud, about to burst out
UW quad • 3/20/2012  - yoshino cherry blossoms - only a few flowers opened

• 2012 Chado Presentation 
& Demonstration Schedule

Experience Chado, the Way of Tea, at the Shoseian Tea House

Shoseikai will host Chado demonstration on the following 3rd Saturdays on 1 and 2 p.m. on
4/21, 5/19, 7/21, 8/18, 9/15 & 10/20

Tea demonstrations last approximately 40 minutes. No reservations are required to view the demonstrations from patio or pathway. Visitors who would  like to enjoy a bowl of tea and sweets can purchase a $5 tea ticket at the Garden ticket booth and are limited to 20 persons.

Tankokai will host Chado presentations on the following dates at 1 & 2 p.m.
4/29, 5/13 (Mother's Day), 6/10, 7/7 (Tanabata), 8/26, 9/30, 10/28. In addition Tankokai will host Teas at Moon Viewing & Respect for Elders - Tea times to be determined.

Experience a 40 minute Tea presentations inside the Shoseian Teahouse. Visitors will be seated on tatami mats. Tickets are $5 and require advance reservations.  We ask that participants please avoid jeans, bare feet, rings, and personal fragrances.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Winter Garden Work Completed

by Lynnda

Transformed maple  SJG
For those guides who were unable to attend the recent tours led by senior gardener, Sue DeNure, here is a summary of changes you may notice on your tours this year.  Some of the changes were suggested by Masa, a Japanese gardener who annually travels to Seattle to assist in preserving the scale necessary for the garden.  In my opinion, the most incredible work was done on the Japanese maple just inside the entrance.  Masa had suggested that the tree be moved to the left, five to six feet, and turned 180 degrees to better suit its position near the rocks.  To accomplish this feat, the edge rocks were removed, the tree dug out, turned around, moved south six feet, replanted, rocks replaced, and the moss replaced. The path looks natural, and who would have thought that such a transition would ever be possible?  If you were visiting the garden for the first time, you would never guess the extent of this change.  I am looking forward to seeing the tree when the leaves reappear.
Rhododendron sutchuenence in bloom now  SJG
On the eastern side of the path across from the WPA bridge, the cedar (thuja occidentalis pendula) with support has been removed.  The trunk was rotted and the tree was hanging over the path.   Stepping stones were installed to the bench near the paper bark maple, in the area just south east of this new space.  Additional mondo grass was added to better vegetate this area. 

Throughout the garden, maple trees have been pruned.  Some have been removed and one was moved to the west path along the fence.  The mountain area has had some clearing, allowing visitors to see the topography of the mountain, allowing the pagoda to be more visible.   
Looking north at the pagoda  SJG
The mountain, after some clearing  SJG
Other structures in the garden were either repaired or rebuilt.  The dobashi, or mud bridge, near the former eastern gate, was rebuilt.  The main support beans were still viable, but the cross pieces were replaced with new logs of cryptomeria, salvaged from the MOHAI site.  The willow has a new support beam and was pruned, although the tree is in decline.  The visible black patches on the tree are a type of natural fungus.  The ADA bridge was repaired and a brace was replaced on the wisteria arbor.  The arbor is going to be replaced in the near future.
New support on the willow  SJG

Logs replaced on the Dobashi  SJG
The grounds around the tea house have been pruned and opened for better visibility into the roji.  Two cryptomeria have been removed, trees that were too large for the area.  Their removal has reshaped the valley appearance when viewed from the north end of the inland sea.
Roji and tea house, looking east  SJG   

Several cherry trees were diseased and had to be removed.  Some of the trees will be replanted, and a large azalea bed will be installed in the future.

Possibly the most difficult situation for the gardeners this year was the flooding caused by the broken water main above the western side of the garden.  It was fortunate that it happened during the day, and on a day when their were additional crew working in the garden.  A huge amount of water (my notes say 100,000 gallons - is that accurate??)
Tea house visible from the eastern shore  SJG
of chlorinated water made its way into the lake.  Incredibly fast action by gardener Patty kept the damage from being more devastating.  The koi were a major concern.  What would so much chlorinated water do to their health?  Filtering equipment was brought onto the site to filter the water over 2 days.  Additional equipment was used to remove the chlorine from the pond.  The koi survived the ordeal and so far, do not seem to be harmed by this. 

The garden is filled with the promise of spring.  I'm sure I've missed telling about all the changes, so please add comments telling of additional activity that happened this winter.  The garden staff has done a wonderful job of preparing for a new season.  When I strolled through the garden a few weeks ago, before I took Sue's tour, I was oblivious to many of the items she talked about.  It seemed cleaner to me, but in retrospect, I think that feeling was based on a new openness resulting from pruning and cleaning out some of the overgrowth.  The garden is back in scale.  If you haven't visited yet this year, it's time to venture out and watch as spring unfolds.

Rhododendron Sutchuenence   SJG

Thursday, March 15, 2012

The trick to that SJG iPhone App: pre-load it at home

by aleks

SJG • 3/15/2012 - ducks on the end of rock penninsula
A few posts earlier I mentioned the existence of an iPhone app for SJG audio tour  [link to itune store here], and that unfortunately it loads dreadfully slowly.

I also found a link for a smart phone SJG app (non iPhone) [link to Photosynth here, it will direct you to download MS silverlight]  - I don't know what is on this app, so if you manage to download it and use it, please post a comment to let the rest of us know if it worked for you.

A few days ago my husband tried Deputy Docent (the name of the iPhone app) again, and it wasn't loading at all ('cannot connect to server' msg flashed on the iPhone screen), so I made a mental note to write a question/complaint to the Garden gods about it. Luck had it that the app creator, Kenn Fung, saw the post about his app and emailed this:

Kenn:  You mentioned in your blog that your husband has tried using the app at the garden but it was painfully slow and he suspected that it was an issue with connectivity.  He is absolutely right.  Because there is no free WIFI at the garden, the app has to rely on cell phone signals, but because of the location of the garden, the cellular reception could be slow at times.  If you'd like to give it another try, there is one way to get around it.  By default, Deputy Docent caches any downloaded data for 7 days, so if you start the app at home where there is a fast WIFI connection, and click on the various Stations on the Audio Tour map, the app will load the audio recordings as well as the images and transcripts on to your iPhone and save them for 7 days (unless the content changes during the next 7 days, in which case the cached data will be purged and re-downloaded).  

Besides the audio tour, the Deputy Docent iPhone app also features an event calendar, which i created by using information available on the SJG website. 

SJG • 3/15/2012 - On the East Path: blooming Rhododendron Sutchuenence 

We did just that after seeing Kenn's email: we loaded the app at home and it worked like magic, plus it was fun to virtually 'stroll through' the Garden (the app has pics) from the couch at 8 pm, after the real Garden was actually locked for the night.

The next day we rushed to the Garden to try it (it was good 20 hrs after loading the app by then) and it still worked there, as we walked from the gate through the stations, clicking 'play' and 'stop' and comparing virtual life to the real one:  virtual was in bloom mostly while real was winter-like bare-ish, since it was still February; and even though I am in the Garden often and saw its many seasons I couldn't  help but think: 'don't miss that bloom this year, too!'  I was curious how Kenn got the idea of writing this app, so I asked if he would mind sharing that info with the blog readers, and this is his answer:

Kenn:  As to why i did the app... well, i am a computer programmer and prior to Deputy Docent, i worked mostly on web apps.  A couple years ago i wanted to make the jump to writing mobile apps.  That sowed the seed, but i still needed an idea.  Then one day my partner and i were visiting a museum where we had to rent an audio device to listen to the program.  It dawned on us that we could create an app for that, so i did.  We picked SJG as our "prototype" for two reasons: (1) Readily available information on the web, including audio recordings, images, and event schedules, and (2) It's close by so it would be quite easy for us to do field testing and to gather further information (e.g., coordinates for the map).

The idea is that Deputy Docent can be extended to create similar tours for other parks or museums easily.  One just needs to go to our website and upload the tour contents (like images, text files, and audio recordings), and the resulting tour will show up under the iPhone app.  Anyway, please do let me know how it works after you have a chance to try it out at the garden.  We welcome all feedback, positive or otherwise.

SJG • 3/15/2012 - Group of docents is getting a special tour from the gardeners  Sue and Patty, on the winter work done in the Garden: some plants has been removed, moved to a different place, bridges repaired 

Well, as for 'positive':   the app is, in my opinion,  a wonderful public service for the iPhone owners, who can now stroll through the Garden while still in touch with their beloved e-pets (just remember to pre-load it  where there is WIFI - home or the nearest Starbucks) and they can e-relive their Garden experience after leaving it; non-iPhone owners can still enjoy the same tour on the audio device borrowed from the booth at the Garden's Gate.

As for the feedback  'otherwise',  the undersigned Miss Ditzy has trouble walking and chewing e-gum at the same time so I wrote Kenn:

aleks:  I wasn't able to just point and click and have the app figure out where the hell I am:), the GPS thing.   No, not really bitching, just occurred to me as I was trying to figure out my way on the app between the map and corresponding stations while walking the garden at the same time that I know the garden really well,  but one-time visitors might be disoriented between the app workings and real life - some 'sesame open' GPS to orient them might encourage them to use it with greater ease. If possible, that is.

That's right: how come we can't just  click one's heels three times, point and have the app take us 'home'?  No ruby slippers for non-geeks, I see.  Kenn is obviously already working on his skill-set for the Good With of the North for he replayed:

Kenn: The app currently does have some GPS functionality, but under a different map (click the Information tab and then select Garden Map); if the GPS is working properly (i.e., signals are strong and accurate), you should see a little set of footprints on the map, which indicates your current location, and a blue circle around it, which represents the margin of error.  

SJG • 3/15/2012 - On the mountain (West) side of the garden shyly blooming
Lindera obtusiloba (Japanese spicebush): in late winter, clusters of small star shaped
bright yellow spicy fragrant flowers adorn the bare branches. 

Kenn's app also has an event calendar for the SJG - the app user is able to see what's happening in the Garden any time and anywhere;  he takes the event info from the Parks Department website which, like all websites, may contain occasional errors, so it's best to confirm the event you are planning to attend by calling the Garden Gate at 206-684-4725.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Other Gardens: Honolulu airport Japanese and Chinese Gardens

by aleks
3/3/2012 • Japanese Garden at Honolulu airport

Back home in Seattle now. Rain and 10 C, or 40-something F.  Crocuses started to bloom while I was away and so did mini-jonquils.  Our ornamental plum tree also started to bloom in wonderful pale pink, as did cherries in wild-pink blossoms and apple in white on our street.

3/3/2012 • Japanese Garden at Honolulu airport - those palms look a bit out of place?:) no?

I was really looking forward to seeing the Honolulu Airport gardens and posting the pics, but almost skipped writing this post, because I really don't want to advertise any airports at this time - I'm still disturbed by witnessing an elderly, frail Asian lady who was in line in front of me for the security checkpoint at Honolulu. She was small and stooped, probably around 70, her gait unsteady, and she seemed to be traveling alone. She had trouble balancing herself while walking and even more with her feet wide apart as instructed; finally, while in the scan machine, she was unable to hold her hands above her head for the required amount of seconds.  The TSA agent kept repeating instructions over and over and her arms kept falling down over and over. So she was scanned four or five times (sic!) while the screens above the checkpoint were flashing messages for  two individuals with Japanese names to hurry up for the imminent departure flight to Tokyo. Like anybody could advance in this slow circus. NOT.

3/3/2012 • Japanese Garden at Honolulu airport 

The elderly lady apparently failed to produce a still enough image because now she was given a full pat down. Then a swab for explosives of her both hands.  Then she was finally let through. She took all of that in silence and didn't look anywhere but at the agent.

I was watching this scene and when an uniformed pilot with four stripes on his jacket sleeve (a captain?) cut in front of me trying to get through, I really didn't mind, just stood there frozen.  The pilot wasn't allowed to go through and while he was calmly questioning 'What is the logic of this? There are people waiting for me'  he was simply told to call his office.  

I know, it's a strange story to post at Japanese Garden blog.   But it's here for the unknown lady: I truly hope you made it wherever you were going, with no further impediments. I'm sorry I didn't help you and  just stood there,  unable to respond. I should have helped you - i wish I could and did, but I was instructed to place my feet on yellow indicators and wait...  And I hope the plane got his pilot, too. By the time I was 'processed' (with no trouble, a lucky number after those two, in an excruciatingly slowly moving lane), I lost interest in gardens and was busy calming a nervous twitch in my eye...

3/3/2012 • Japanese Garden at Honolulu airport 
Fortunately, I made some pics of the gardens on the way to Maui a week earlier, and posting them now for all that is worth: there are many gardens there, at the Honolulu International Airport, between the terminals;  all  open air and lovely: a place a weary traveller can sit and contemplate nature.

I meant to research those Honolulu airport gardens, but you can read it all by yourself here +pics, way  better than mine:

The cultural gardens display the influence of the Hawaiian, Chinese and Japanese heritage upon “island living” in the State of Hawaii. Pathways, bridges and stepping stones connect the three gardens. Waterways flow among these garden ponds and lakes to symbolize the intermingling of the cultures in Hawaii. Sculptures from various artists may also be found in the gardens.

3/3/2012 • Chinese Garden at Honolulu airport 
•  •  •  •  •  •  •  • 

Oh, and a special message to rpacht: HI, Robert - I brought home for you a copy of in-flight magazine 'Hana Hou!', featuring an article about successful returning of nene birds to Hawaii 50 years ago, up there in Haleakala crater - I thought it would professionally an  personally interest you. Just now checked that it's posted on the internet, for everyone to enjoy, great!... But you still can get a paper copy if you want:).

Hawaiian nene bird - descendent of Canada goose - a pic stolen from the internet

I know - if there is a post not matching the pics, this is it.  Oh, well.

3/19/12 • I should have add this earlier, to further detract from the post text:

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Other Gardens: Kula Botanical Gardens

by aleks
Kula Botanical gardens • 3/6/2012 - ubiquitous in Hawaii Ti plant, good-luck-plant,
technically classified as Cordyline terminalis. There are approximately 20 species
 of Cordyline, which is in the agave family, Agaveaceae.

The McCourd Family started the garden in Kula, on the slopes of Haleakala volcano in 1969 - it informs people what grows at 3,300 feet elevation on Maui -  it was windy, cold and rainy when we got there. At the garden's small parking lot we passed a woman dressed in long pants and long sleeves shirt; by now I was clad in  polartec jacket, too - a piece of clothing i didn't think i'd use until returning to Seattle. She said 'welcome' and I smiled  'it's nippy here';  to which she answered: 'I know,  it's winter;  we LOVE the rain!' I thought her answer was odd, since I didn't mention the rain. It was Helen McCord herself, she said the garden is her labor of love, then casually handed me some piece of paper to pass to the woman at the front desk and drove off...

Kula Botanical gardens • 3/6/2012 - One of the magnificent protea plants:
they come in different color and sizes; photo by Tony

67 degrees F and rain is not exactly what tourists are coming for to Hawaii, but the rain appreciation is deeply shared by all locals we encountered:  the woman at the front desk was nearly dancing from rain joy: 'It makes things grow!  It makes things green!' She happily handed me umbrella together with the garden's map.

Kula Botanical gardens • 3/6/2012 - one of the orchids: only 3 are actually
native to Hawaii, although they all grow well here; photo by Tony

Considering how arid huge parts of this young volcanic island are (the last lava eruption was in 18th century), with bare on the top layers of lava along the roads which were cut through it, one can completely understand the rain dance:  the woman with small fruit and veggie stand where we are staying down at the sea level was also smiling while commenting on the rain that day:  it was raining on the entire island her papayas, mangos and beets and cucumbers surely liked it.

Kula Botanical gardens • 3/6/2012 - Malaleuca Leucadendra,
PAPER BARK TREE of SouthEast Asia

The Garden itself is quite amazing: 9 acres of paths with some known and some less known plants, a koi pond,  a flowing stream, a palm garden, bridges  and a bird sanctuary.  It is very beautiful and peaceful, albeit a bit confusing in a layout - I can't help but compare every garden I visit to Seattle Japanese Garden, and almost always come to the conclusion that our Garden is simply perfect with its loop design which gives a visitor a sense of completion upon returning to the gate.

Kula Botanical gardens • 3/6/2012 - Koi pond

In Kula Garden we were already back at the gate when I glanced at the map and realized that we didn't see a bird sanctuary - nope, not going to go back there in the rain, but what is there, anyway, I asked.  'Oh, you missed it? It's right past orchids, we have  some ducks and nene geese'.  Nenes?  I was out of the gate and now running to the back of the garden in the rain - nenes were reintroduced to Hawaii up in the Haleakala crater, but rather rarely seen at the lower elevations.
Kula Botanical gardens • 3/6/2012 - ducks. I couldn't get a good pic of nenes,
I saw them, but they were hunkering and hiding  from the rain 

Speaking of birds:  I fell in love with the myna birds - they are so gregarious and everywhere here, they really own this place, yucking up a storm at the wharfs and shop entrances alike, on the beaches and streets. I understand they are very intelligent and can even talk.  I wasn't able to get a good picture of myna bird, but the other day spotted a young boy feeding one from his hand - the myna bird was very well behaving and little by little moved from the balcony rail onto the boy's shoulder.  He turned around and the myna bird was still firmly planted on his shoulder when he started to move indoors.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Other Gardens: Byodo-In Temple in O'ahu

by aleks
3/1/2012 • Byodo-In Temple in O'ahu

Traveling or visiting  anywhere I'm naturally drawn to gardens, especially if they have some local or native characters;  among all the gardens the Japanese, Buddhist or Shinto  themes get my instant attention, so when my husband mentioned the Byodo-In Temple during our present visit to Hawaii Islands, I was ready to go in no time.

3/1/2012 • Gardens in Byodo-In Temple in O'ahu: Black swans and koi

The Byodo-In Temple in O'ahu is a replica of a 900-year-old Buddhist place of worship at Uji in Kyoto prefecture of Japan.  Surrounding the temple are large koi ponds that cover a total of two acres, and  around those ponds are lush Japanese gardens set against a backdrop of towering cliffs of the Ko'olau mountains.

From wiki: [...]
Byodo-In Temple is a half-size-scale replica of the Byodo-in Temple, a United Nations World Heritage Site near the ancient city of Kyoto, originally a monastery founded by Fujiwara no Yorimichi in 1052 of the Heian period. It was famous for its Dainichi Nyorai statue.. The statue was lost and replaced in 1053 with a large wooden statue of Amitabha (Amida Nyorai), a national treasure of the Empire carved by the Japanese artisan Jocho. Amida Buddha stands in the midst of the Phoenix Hall or Hoodo, an artistic reproduction of Amitabha Tathagata's Western Pure Land. It is called Phoenix Hall in reference to the two phoenixes stretching their wings upon the temple roof. 52 wooden images of Bodhisattvas surround the Amida Buddha, dancing and playing musical instruments on floating clouds.
Since 2001, Byodoin Temple has undergone restoration that will continue through 2007 in the spirit of preservation of Japan's ancient heritage.

3/1/2012 • Gardens in Byodo-In Temple in O'ahu: feral cat on the headsone

On the ponds we saw black swans and variety of local birds in the most serene surroundings.  There is a cemetery right outside of the temple,  and when we drove in we saw a feral cat (I understand cats are NOT pets in Hawaii), making himself completely comfortable on one of the headstones.
P.S. Sorry for this post being somewhat scarce and insufficient: the internet connection from the middle of the Pacific Ocean is intermittent and not quite reliable. Aloha.