Monday, March 31, 2014

Reminder: 'Tampopo" film this Wednesday, Apriil 2, 12-3:30 PM, in TCR

by aleks
SJG • 3/26/14 - Cornus mas blooming

Our 2014 classes and films series are about to start!  from Jeanne P. email:

Japan film fans and comedy lovers, welcome to our first film of 2014 at the Japanese Garden. Bring a lunch, if you wish, and enjoy a film about food.  

You can find many plot summaries and reviews of "Tampopo" online, including this one from the Internet Movie Database (

"In this humorous paean to the joys of food, the main story is about trucker Goro, who rides into town like a modern Shane to help Tampopo set up the perfect noodle soup restaurant. Woven into this main story are a number of smaller stories about the importance of food, ranging from a gangster who mixes hot sex with food, to an old woman who terrorizes a shopkeeper by compulsively squeezing his wares." […]

Other reviews may be found on the Roger Ebert Web site: (He gave the film four stars.) You can also look at SJG Film Bank:

We hope to see you at the movies!

Unit 86 Event Planning Committee.

the trailer here:

Monday, March 24, 2014

Dr. Frank Kitamoto - thank you from the guides...

SJG • 3/19/14 - Camellia takayama
by aleks
thanks Jeanne P. for the idea and research assistance

Dr. Kitamoto was a terrific speaker. He spoke to us in November, 2012 for our continuing education series for the Garden docents. The title of his talk was: "Making a Difference: Putting Human Back into Human Rights—Lessons from the Past to Help Us Make Choices in the Present."  Dr. Kitamoto died on March 15.

Seattle Times has his obituary:

Dr. Frank Kitamoto, president of the Bainbridge
Island Japanese American Community, discussed
his experience as a World War II-era internee
on Monday at Woodward Middle School.
[…] Frank Kitamoto was 2½ years old in 1942 when he, his mother and three sisters were sent to the Manzanar War Relocation Center in California after President Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066. His father had already been rounded up by the FBI for questioning; he joined the family later. 

The Japanese Americans on Bainbridge Island were the first group in Washington to be taken to the internment camps, Dr. Kitamoto said during an interview with Idaho Public Television in 2007. The Kitamoto family stayed in Manzanar for 11 months, then they were transferred to Minidoka War Relocation Center in Idaho. 

Dr. Kitamoto’s earliest memories were from the camps, so, he said, he didn’t know what he was missing then. Later, he realized how difficult it must have been for the adults. He remembered spit-wad fights with other children and getting trampled at the end of the Miss Minidoka contest. When he was 5, he stole cigarettes from his dad’s dresser and smoked the whole pack, he told the television interviewer. Afterward, he was sick for a week.

“But I did give up smoking when I was 5 years old,” he said. “I remember that.”[…]
The rest of the article is here.

This picture is from Bainbridge Island
Japanese American Community website
His hometown's paper, Bainbridge Review also has a story:
[…] They had six days to pack up their lives. At the time, Frank Kitamoto was 2 1/2, and along with his mother, Shigeko, and three sisters, Jane, 9 months old, Frances, 5, and Lilly, 7, were first sent to the Manzanar War Relocation Center in California. […]

In 1983, Kitamoto started an oral history project on the internment with Ron Nakata and John Sakai, and made repeated visits to classrooms across Washington state and beyond to talk about the history of Japanese Americans. […]
The rest of the article here.

In 2007 Dr. Kitamoto was interviewed by Idaho Public Television when he was re-visiting Minidoka camp (there is a yearly pilgrimage organized by and for former detainees):

Jim: It was interesting, we did a World War II documentary about World War II in Idaho and talking to some of the folks who were around back then, just regular folks who lived in Idaho, I asked them about the camps and I have to admit I was expecting this sort of sense of collective guilt that you hear from Caucasians in those days. Instead what I got was, Well, it's too bad but we didn't know what they were going to do. We didn't know what was in their hearts.

Frank: That's right. Yeah, I think when people are under the stress of fear for themselves a person becomes very self centered and worries more about themselves and how an action may affect another person and a lot of times when we become so fearful of losing our power or our identity or our safeness, it becomes important for us to be able to find a reason to defend that by doing something and I think in a case like that it becomes hard to identify that you may have done something wrong to a group a people that may not be justified so maybe somewhere along the line here we'll be able to help people realize that power is not really military or strength or the Patriot Act or home security. Really the authentic power is really how you care for each other and the more human you can be and the more soulful you are, the better this world will be because you know when you get right down to it that's the purpose in life, is caring for each other, not how you can influence someone or manipulate someone.
The rest of the interview transcript is here.

SJG • 3/19/14 - Camellia Takayama

Friday, March 14, 2014

Deer Scroll + 2014 classes and films

by aleks

A friend and I called at Seattle Asian Art Museum today, and I was thrilled to see that the current exhibition 'A Fuller View of China, Japan and Korea' contains three of my favorite pieces of art:  17th-century Japanese "Crow Screen",  set of woodblock prints and the lyrical  "Poem Scroll with Deer."

Seattle is lucky to have those treasures, but  they  rarely come out of storage due to their  high maintenance requirements, as they needs special low light and regulated air, and they are usually shown as separate collections; so it was like visiting old friends, having a reunion!  SAM owns about a half of the entire Deer Scroll,  about 30 feet of it; the scroll was divided by a Japanese collector in the 1930s and the remaining pieces of the scroll are in 5 different Japanese museums and owned by several private collectors.

The Deer Scroll display this time had a note attached, directing to the tablet on the wall for  further exploring  of the scroll:  a perfect marriage of fabulous art and some  amazing technology -  one can view the entire work, zoom-in for close ups, read about the restoration and read all 28 poems in Japanese and English translation. Wow!

And you can view it on your computer, too! Go to this SAAM webpage and click where it says: 'CLICK IT: Poem Scroll with Deer has been virtually recreated so the entire scroll can be explored' - it will open to the scroll and keep you out of trouble for quite some time (I know it's not leaving my computer screen anytime soon). Thank you, SAAM!

Here is poem #  6, by the monk Saigo:

What might be the reason
for autumn 
to be so sad?

(The portion of the scroll above is NOT matching the poem, because I couldn't find the right piece on the web).

•  •  •  •  •  

Now, on to our 2014 schedule of classes and films (I also put it in the right side of the blog, so you continue to see it even as this post moves down with time; eventually I will also post it to the calendar page).

First of all: two events NOT on this schedule but happening next Saturday, March 22 at TCR:

our semi-annual Unit 86 meeting  10:00-12:00, followed by:
Kyoto field trip  discussion and  FAQ at 1:00 pm.  At this pre-trip session  Dewey will show slides of gardens in a historical time line, providing a glimpse of what you can visit in Kyoto and some ideas of what you can see and do on the field trip. Yes, we are planning a field trip to... GASP... .JAPAN on Nov. 11 - 26, 2014.

BTW, after 10  years as a SJG docent I still wonder  who was the yahoo that named us 'Unit 86' and what was he thinking?  Sounds like we are some army part, while we are just Japanese Garden guides (and the other 85 Arboretum  'units'?  Not sure about them, either, saw about two on the tours: one was a gardening group of sorts, and the other fundraising type).


The Tateuchi Community Room will open for classes from 10 AM to 1 PM. For films, doors will open from12:00 PM to 3:30 PM. Feel free to bring your lunch to the films or classes.  Look for more detailed email reminders monthly—schedule subject to change.

April 2, Wednesday, 12 -3:30 PM *Film—“Tampopo” (1985) comedy classic—spicy “Ramen Western”

April 19, Saturday, 10 AM-1 PM Class —Selection and placement of stones, landscape design—Mark Bourne

May 10, Saturday, 10 AM-1 PM Class—May Bloomers Garden Tour—Unit86 Plant List Committee

May 24, Saturday, 10 AM-1 PM Class—Haiku workshop in the Japanese Garden—Michael Dylan Welch

June 4, Wednesday, 12-3:30 PM *Film—“Living Treasures of Japan” (1988) - Revered artist documentary

June 19, Thursday, 10 AM-1 PM Class—Contemporary Way of Tea—Mrs. Naomi Takemura

July 19, Saturday, 10 AM-1 PM Class—Gardening the Body—Art and  Practice of Butoh—Joan Laage

August 6, Wednesday, 12-3:30 PM *Film—“Departures”—(2008)

September 18, Thursday, 10 AM-1 PM Class—Aquatic Ecology of Our Little Pond—Robert Pacht

October 1, Wednesday, 12-3:30 PM *Film—“I Wish”—(2011)

October 18, Saturday, 10 AM-1 PM Class—Sumi-e painting—brush and ink artist Louise Kikuchi

November 8, Saturday, 10 AM-1 PM Class—Our rare and beautiful Maples, tour of Garden—Plant List Committee

November 20, Thursday, 10 AM-1 PM Class—2014 update (bring questions) —Garden specialist Masa Mizuno

*For descriptions of the films please visit SJG FILM BANK at: or search Internet Movie Database:

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Origami Master Makes a Life-Size Elephant From a Single Sheet of Paper

by rpacht (and aleks)

A cool story at Gizmodo by Robert Sorokanich. Filed to: ORIGAMI, 3/11/14 4:20pm

'Origami artist Sipho Mabona just pulled off an incredible feat of paper folding, turning a single 50 foot by 50 foot sheet of paper into a life-size paper elephant standing more than 10 feet tall. It was no doubt a painstaking process, but watching the artist and his team in process is strangely soothing. […]

The really fun part is seeing Mabona translate motions from the tiny sheet of paper in his hand, to the small-scale elephant model, to the 50-foot square of paper at his feet. It's about as close as we can get to peeking inside Mabona's mind, watching him figure out how to accomplish the next fold'.

The rest of the story and a video of the production here… Enjoy!

Sunday, March 2, 2014

The SJG has opened for 2014

by aleks
It was wet (PNW way - drizzling, not really pouring) and rather cold -  for those who forgot to wear sweaters on March 1st in Seattle.  But the ceremony was not disappointing, it was as  uplifting as ever.  Plus,  docent Nat S. tells me that 'when it rains at a Shinto ceremony, it's auspicious.. Water and its cleansing virtues (from surface wash to "solution to pollution is dilution") are tops in Shinto belief system.'

A few pics below:  they were all taken on my camera, but some captured by Marie Zahradnik from SJGAC, by now I can't tell who took which pics. But just enjoy!  The Unit 86 calendar of events coming soon.

SJG • 3/1/14 - Rev. Koichi Barrish of  Tsubaki Grand Shrine of America
preparing for the  blessing ceremony.

SJG • 3/1/14 - First sake, then rice goes as offering…

SJG • 3/1/14 - sharing a smile
SJG • 3/1/14 - the Shinto altar

SJG • 3/1/14 - it's Seattle, after all:)