Friday, June 21, 2013

Juki Iida Scroll

by aleks
Miller Library - 6/20/13
 Juki Iida scroll:
photo by Dewey Webster 
Thank you Miller Library People, especially Martha Ferguson, for hosting our last Cont. Ed. and for taking the time and trouble of putting Juki Iida's scroll out on display, for getting out the books and articles on Japanese Gardens for us to explore, thank you for the library tour -  what a delicious meeting that was, and all that before I even mention the tea, strawberries, brownies and cookies!

I have been a guide for almost 10 years, and this was the first time I saw DA SCROLL, having heard so much about it before. With the exception of a few people who were present at the ceremony of  Dick Yamasaki (who was responsible for SJG stone setting work in 1960) presenting Miller Library with the scroll several years ago - up until then it was in his possession-  most of us, docents,  never saw it.

I was surprised to find out that the scroll doesn't have 'beginning, middle and end', like most 'telling the story' scrolls do - it is more like assembly of ideas and sketches that Mr. Iida painted in ink during his evenings at the Holland Hotel in Seattle in 1959, in preparation for building the Seattle Japanese Garden.

Among the books and articles Miller Library's staff displayed for our training was an article written in February 1974 by Juki Iida himself (translated by Glenn T. Webb) for 'Niwa' - a prestigious journal for professional gardeners in Japan.

I'm not sure if this thorough account of Mr. Iida's  experiences of building our Garden is digitalized at Milers Library's webpage (couldn't locate it; will provide a link if it is) - you can get hard copies of it from Miller Library; it's listed as 'The Japanese Garden at the University of Washington' by Juki Iida (1889-1977);  here are some excerpts:

[...] As soon as I heard about the project I was interested in it, but two huge obstacles seemed to stand in the way: I could not imagine how a large scale, formal (shin-style) Japanese garden could be built outside of Japan where Japanese stones, trees and plants would not be available and where only non-Japanese and foreign-born Japanese gardeners would be at my disposal as construction crew members. I went into this project fully expecting it to fail because of these two problems. How wrong I was!  Making this garden has been the greatest lesson of my life, and for this reason I will be forever grateful that fate chose me to do it. 

[...] The garden site covers five acres of land, or a little over 6000 tsubo. It is long and narrow from north to south, with a park road bordering its east side. The south to northwest section of the land slopes downward from the western boundary and has a forest of various kinds of trees. At the base of the slpe is a marsh.

Miller Library 6 /20/13  - that's is how Iida's scroll is stored, when NOT on display: in two boxes

[...] Selection of the landscape gardeners and woodworker was done according to the American custom, with people interested in those jobs submitting applications. But I insisted from the first that I be allowed to meet the applicants and see their work. After all, I had to be sure that whoever was chosen had the skills and, above all, the proper attitude, the purity of mind, to handle the job.

Miller Library - 6/20/13: Juki Iida's signature, at the lower bottom left of the scroll

love the following fragment,  for I long suspected it (while apologizing for the SJG colors throughout  April and May tours), and especially  working now, in 2013,  on the Plant Committee :) - thanks, Lynnda, for pointing this fragment out:

[...] The one thing we had in great abundance was the Washington State flowering tree, the rhododendron. I therefore was obliged to use these gaudy plants, but I tried to hold the color down as much as possible.

From Miller Library archives 6/20/13: pic from SJG photo-album 1960 - looks like construction of  zig-zag bridge?

[...] I had been alerted that the Crown Prince and Princess might be visiting the garden and that they would be prepared to plant the trees of their respective families - the white cherry and the white birch.  Sites for those trees were selected. Finally, on June 5. 1960, the garden was opened. That morning a plaque, designed by Calligraphy Master Ryutaro Higashi at the request of the Mayor of Tokyo, Mr. Azuma, arrived by airmail. The plaque read "Peace and Tranquility" (wake), and it was put in place under the gable of the teahouse by Seattle city officials.  [...]

From Miller Library archives 6/20/13: pic from SJG photo-album 1960 -Suhama building?

Other interesting things on the topic:
The Miller Library page on the Iida's scroll here:

The Seattle Times 'Arboretum Dilemma: Access Or Authenticity?' article from 1997:

2002 article from Seattle Times on 'A Seattle treasure lovingly restored':

More Seattle Times articles on SJG here:

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Yakima students compose haiku in the Garden

by Cara and aleks
SJG • 5/31/13 - 8th graders from Franklin Middle School in Yakima visiting the Garden

Welcome to this place
where beauty will inspire you -
Be one with nature

Haiku composed collectively by Franklin Middle School 
8th grade students in docent Cara's group

aleks: In May and June Seattle Japanese Garden gets many visitors from schools, some close by and some not so close; there are teachers who bring their pupils to the Garden every year, some because they study Pacific Rim countries, some because they study Japanese language and culture, and some just because.

Franklin Middle School in Yakima is one of those schools -  each year teacher  Mike Fry brings his 8th graders all the way to Seattle to experience Japanese Garden and culture to complement their Japanese studies. The students had to be in school at 6:30 am yesterday, Friday, and left on the bus at 7:15 to make it for the 11:00 am tour.  They were very bright and open to the experience and it was an immense pleasure to share the Garden with them. After the Garden tour they headed to Westlake mall to explore a Japanese shop there and for lunch in Uwajimaya - a huge Japanese grocery/gift/eatery center in International District.

Creative use of  pause...After the tour docent Cara told me that her group's haiku-writing naturally rose from the need to pause when Bev's and my groups were occupying the spots Cara intended to take her visitors to, and they were forced to wait...

Cara: We were in the azumaya, talking about how shelters are used for creative reflection. As the students looked out onto the garden, I asked if they knew about haiku, and we reviewed its form. 'Welcome to this place.' I nudged them with that sentence. They became quiet - a few gestured with fingers as they silently counted the syllables in thoughts they weren't ready to share out loud. A few moments later, someone offered 'where beauty will inspire you.'  Students took turns reciting the two lines and worked together to refine them. After another quiet moment, 'Be one with nature' was offered by another student. We recited our 17-syllable poem again and again, and later, it was fun to have an audience as another group approached us at the end of our garden stroll. I won't ever forget the haiku, or the wonderful group that created it.

aleks: How did you review the haiku form?  Did the students know anything about haiku, or did you have to explain from the beginning?

Cara: I just asked them to tell me what a haiku was, and students volunteered what they'd learned, according to one  student, 'in the fourth grade'. Although I didn't make sure everyone understood the 5 - 7 - 5 structure, it didn't take long for the group to put their creative juices together to compose their own haiku.

SJG  • 5/26/13 -styrax obassia - Japanese snow bell tree
at the SE corner of the Tea House garden blooming profusely now

Hi to Franklin Middle School Yakima students from the guides in SJG! waving hands - please visit us again!