Sunday, March 31, 2013

Sakura Hanami 2013 at UW campus

by aleks
3/31/13 - UW Quad -  Easter Sunday Yoshino viewing:
filming, picnicking and just being there...

Once a year our beautiful UW campus looks more Japanese than Seattle Japanese Garden thanks to the huge amount of blossoming mature cherry trees there, which turn the place into a truly magical cherry blossom festival.  Yesterday Robert alerted that NOW is the time to head there, as the recent spring-like warmth that descended upon Seattle turned the trees on earlier than last year (2012 post on the topic was dated April 16).

3/31/13 - UW Quad - Yoshino blossom sprouting straight from the old trunk

First, there is the Quad, with 31 pale pink Yoshino cherry trees transplanted there from the Seattle Arboretum 45+ years ago when a freeway project threatened them.  There were so many people there today (Easter Sunday) that one might think people confused the Quad with the church:  strolling, laughing, picnicking, and everybody taking pictures.

3/31/13 - UW Quad - Yoshino blossom up close
3/31/13 - UW Quad: an idler-- / under the cherry blossoms / I live
Kobayashi Issa 1806 (Translation by David Lanoue)

Then there is the road off the Red Square, with Mt. Rainier Vista in the distance, above the water fountain, lined with more vivid pink Hisakura  Cherries.  Found this information at the UW Tree Tour:

A double row of nine Hisakura cherry trees introduces Rainier Vista, between Suzzallo Library and Gerberding Hall. Across Grant Lane are six Kwanzan Cherries for comparison. Hisakura is an extremely rare Japanese flowering cherry that differs from common kwanzan in blooming earlier, not having pompom-weight flowers, growing broader, staying smaller and more dense, and in having narrower leaves less fringed on the edges. In a word, it is a restrained Kwanzan. Its chief virtues are its earlier bloom and lesser space requirements. These are the only campus specimens, and the variety is not available at nurseries.

3/31/13 - UW campus off the Red Square -
Blooming Hisakura cherries, Mt. Rainier and the old water fountain
(left after the The Alaska–Yukon–Pacific Exposition world's fair, held in Seattle in 1909)

Robert included this helpful link to Information & Visitors Center - it chronicles  Daily Quad blossom updates for this year...

3/31/13 - UW campus off the Red Square - Hisakura cherry

Brockman Memorial Tree Tour map, lists and locates some 67 of the estimated 480 kinds of trees planted around the university grounds, including the Kwanzan Cherry (Rainier Vista near Stevens Way), Yoshino Cherry (31 of which line the Quad), and Hisakura Cherry (near Red Square).

3/31/13 - UW campus off the Red Square -  Hisakura  blossoms  up close

Pinterest  has many photographs of the UW cherry blossoms, if you can't make it to the UW campus soon.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

My first adventure with The Tale of Genji & bloom pic-report

SJG • 3/20/13 - Pieris Japonica at Tea House Garden
by aleks

P.S. 3/30/13 - Mchele noticed that SAM FILMS is going to play The Tale of Genji 
June 13, 7–9:30 pm 
at Stimson Auditorium:
Sam -Second Thursday Japanese Films
Day 2 of the training for the new SJG guides is now concluded, and The Tale of Genji was brought up in PPP on gardens in Japan, which reminded me that I wanted to follow the link that Keiko provided in her post from Feb. 9, when she wrote about a current exhibition of Japanese Art at SAAM,  mentioning that it includes The Tale of Genji.

(Note to self: the exhibition should be recommended to all new guides on the training Day 4, when Nat, Keiko and I reign, together with general list of haiku reading, which was cut off from this year's training).

Before going to Keiko's link,  I decided to google for a summary first, to somehow familiarize myself with what I was about to undertake.  From wiki entry I found out that Genji Monigatari,  '11th century psychological novel' by Murasaki Shikibu is set in an archaic court language that was already unreadable a century after it was written - that didn't frazzle me because I would be reading it in translation, and hopefully NOT into 11 century English - so far so good.

SJG • 3/18/13 - Forsythia is  almost over
Then I looked at the plot summary, and read that  instead of a traditional plot, events happen and characters evolve simply by growing older: Genji is born, looses his mother at the age of 3, his emperor father cannot forget her, meets Lady Fujitsubo, who reminds him of Genji's mother, marries her, and you would think everybody lived happily ever after, but we are barely at the beginning of the tale,  which  has 54 chapters.

Following the plot summary we learn that Lady Fujitsubo proves to be an excellent stepmother, but when Genji grows up things  are getting a bit complicated as they fell in love with each other... In his frustration over  this forbidden love for the Lady Fujitsubo, Genji engages in a series of unfulfilling love affairs with other women, all looking like his stepmother - Freud would be ecstatic :)

SJG • 3/20/13 - Many exquisite
camellias are blooming; above
camellia  daikagura
Did I mention there is a wife of Genji, Aoi?  Genji and Aoi quarrel and reconcile and have a son, after which event Aoi  leaves the stage by dying.  Not sure what Lady Fujitsubo is doing throughout all of this (I'm still reading summaries, not the real deal, mind you), but at some point she and Genji have a son, too, but pass him as his father's - the emperor; both of Genji's sons would later become emperors...

By now the plot was looking Shakespearian and  slightly dizzying:  very rich and busy with characters, intrigues and sub-intrigues, with meandering scenarios of several generations of people involved in the emperor's court...  Then I saw this wiki paragraph:

One complication for readers and translators of the Genji is that almost none of the characters in the original text are given explicit names. The characters are instead referred to by their function or role (e.g. Minister of the Left), an honorific (e.g. His Excellency), or their relation to other characters (e.g. Heir Apparent), which changes as the novel progresses. This lack of names stems from Heian-era court manners that would have made it unacceptably familiar and blunt to freely mention a person's given name. Modern readers and translators have used various nicknames to keep track of the many characters.

SJG • 3/20/13 - Who knew skimmia
japonica opens to bloom  in March?
Nice, Shakespeare on steroids! Plus, the characters are supposed to address each other with the ancient Japanese poems here and there - so there will be a code of poetic allusions one has to crack through...

By now I was burning to see the real thing, instead of just reading about it, and jump into this bygone era of the Japanese culture, especially curious of the author's pondering over the inherent contradictions in Genij's character, due to the circumstances of his birth and upbringing.

You can go to Oxford Text Archive  - a link that Keiko provided, where in exchange for your email and agreeing to terms you will be able to download 2.43 megabytes of Genji Monigatari text onto your computer. (Seidensticker translation)

Or, you can read it straight  on-line at University of Adelaide  which makes it available under a Creative Commons License, no email registration needed.  (Seidensticker translation)

Unesco Global Heritage Pavilion also has the text online  (+ woodcuts of Harumasa Yamamoto) with this note: At the dawn of the twenty-first century, the Internet version created for the UNESCO website is reaching out to each one of us. Please enjoy it to your heart's content. (Seidensticker translation)

SJG • 3/20/13 - And of course, many
rhododendrons are out already; here
is the unnamed hybrid by WPA bridge
Hello, Plant Committee and all gardeners! Go to  Plants in Genji Monogatari (spring, autumn, plants to be seen through the year,  perennial plants, trees)...

If you have Attention Deficit Disorder and absolutely cannot sit through 54 chapters and over 1000 pages, go to the Tale of Genji summary online version with pictures, and enjoy it as briefly as you can endure, or read this excellent short summary by Royall Tyler at Penguin Club.

If you like to look at screens and scrolls from The Tale of Genji go to Hood Museum of Art  Dartmouth College at Hanover, New Hampshire.

For a replica of Genji's residence and dolls wearing Heian-era clothing go to the Costume Museum in Kyoto -   this is where you can have your photo taken wearing courtly Heian attire.

Film?  Yes, there is Tale of Genji anime - 1987 Tale of Genji animated movie with English subtitles on YouTube. First installment below, and go to the link above for the rest.

And of curse, there is a book version of the The Tale of Genji at your favorite bookseller - for you, bookworms, there are five major translations into English available, and comparing them should keep you busy for several winters - some are said to be more poetic, while other more academic, depending on the translator's bias.

Do I sound  slightly Genji-crazy? Because I think I am...  Writing this post took me several days as I was getting distracted stopping at all the links above, and a few more...

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

HI, new fellow guides!:)

by aleks
SJG • 3/13/13 - view  from the patio of Tateuchi Community Room:
 the new guides being trained inside,  the garden reflected in the glass door...

The training of the new guides started today: 16 super interesting and very curious people, our future fellow-guides in Seattle Japanese Garden! Woo hoo!  Best wishes to you -  NEW GUIDES!

Dewey and I are videotaping the event, but these two stills are for your pleasure of knowing what is going  on...

SJG • 3/13/13 - D1 of training in session

Monday, March 11, 2013

Already in bloom

by aleks
When I first came to this country,  a good friend kept giving me stacks of his wife's magazine subscriptions, so I could  expand my English vocabulary; I found most of them rather boring, there were so called 'women's magazines', and although reading recipes without actually cooking has been one of my favorite time killers ever,  well, how much can one's horizons  be expanded on recipes... (Although the time reading them wasn't completely wasted, as I found some food in my new country quite imaginative and even exotic:  tuna and almond casserole with canned (!) onion rings, 7 layers of veggie-stuff in some jello, and that unforgettable party sandwich 'loaf', made out to look like a cake -  that was in the 80s, in case you are too young to figure out what I'm talking about).

SJG • 3/5/13 – Young Corylopsis pauciflora • Buttercup Winter Hazel, Area B
Will burst out any day now

SJG 3/5/13 • Cornus mas , Cornelian cherry; Area L
Then one day my friend gifted me with  Old Farmer's Almanac -  about 3 years worth of his subscription...  Not a glossy thing, but very beautiful and old-charmey... I was instantly hooked, even though it would be another year before I would try to actually garden for the first time in my life (instant success - it was in St. Louis, MO, where gardener cannot fail, as long as the plants are watered, and bigger than weeds).

SJG 3/5/13 • Cornus mas , Cornelian cherry; Area L, Flowers
Most of you probably know that the Old Farmer's Almanac has been published continuously since 1792, making it the oldest continuously published periodical in North America, which was precisely what glued me to it:  I kept wondering what it would be like to have them ALL,  and read and read, all the way back to the beginning: weather predictions, planting charts, astronomy for planting, tides and sunrises - it seemed to me it would feel like being in a time machine backwards...

A few days ago, and many years after I forgot about the magazine's existence, I put into google 'spring equinox 2013', wanting to know exactly how many days we have left waiting. The first hit opened to my old friend, Old Farmer's Almanac, now on-line (check their covers throughout history here):

Spring begins with the vernal equinox at 7:02 A.M. (EDT) onMarch 20, 2013 in the Northern Hemisphere. Here’s more about the start of spring, signs of spring, and stunning spring photos!

The Vernal Equinox

Ah, spring! This season brings increasing daylight, warming temperatures, and the rebirth of flora and fauna.
The word equinox is derived from the Latin words meaning “equal night.” Days and nights are approximately equal everywhere and the Sun rises and sets due east and west.

SJG 3/5/13 •  Camellia japonica "Cheerful', Area C
Drat, we are in the winter for a while then.

But a walk through the SJG last week told a different story:  camellia daikagura (right past the fork in a road, toward E path) blooming the second month already;  now camellia  'cheerful' started keeping her company (along the main path, behind yukimidoro lantern) - both in reds;  cornelian cherry (by the fence along E path) is covered  in yellows star-like blossoms, and buttercup winter hazel is about to burst out....
Ah, spring!

• • • • • • • • 
o Anzuru yori umu ga yasashi.
o Literally: Giving birth to a baby is easier than worrying about it.
o Meaning: Fear is greater than the danger. / An attempt is sometimes easier than expected