Saturday, October 10, 2015

紅葉狩り •  Momijigari (Maple Viewing) + books, films, butoh

by aleks
SJG • 10/10/15: Red leaves of Japanese Fullmoon Maple (Acer japonicum 'Vitifolium') in area C 

紅葉狩り • MOMIJIGARI  (Maple Viewing) starts tomorrow, October 11: we have 3 tours scheduled to guide you on your visit to our stunning maples.  16 of our most remarkable specimens are temporarily labeled, a practice definitely un-Japanese, but we do this exception for a short time in fall (till the leaves fall down) so the visitors can combine enjoyment with learning pleasures regarding those exotic Asian beauties.  The trees are READY for you!

SJG • 10/10/15 - Our garden, as seen through TCR  door

Our continuing ed. classes for the guides (and friends) offer us many unusual glimpses into Japanese culture: we have lectures, but also a film club, book club, plant classes and field trips.  I have to say that despite being a guide for 10+ years, until very recently  I felt slightly like an usurper: the Japanese culture as far away from the one I grew up in  as from the one I presently live in: how come  I am allowed to go around and give tours of this place?  'Well, somebody has to' I used to quell my anxieties, so  this multi-faceted exposure is doing what no guide training could ever do for me:  things I read, heard and was lectured about, are finally falling into place like a puzzle on its way to some probable completion, instead of having 1000 pieces scattered randomly.

SJG • Persimmons are getting ripe...

Our last BOOK CLUB was a very spirited discussion about Ruth Ozeki 'A Tale for the Time Being', but we still have one meeting to go: on October 21 the group will be talking about 'The Life of Isamu Noguchi' (2004) by Masayo Duus.  Who in Seattle is not familiar with Black Sun sculpture (although some see a donut there),  a 1969 work by Isamu Noguchi in Volunteer Park?  The view from the sculpture includes the Space Needle, Olympic Mountains, and Elliott Bay. Be warned thought: the library queue for the book is so long you will probably have to buy it in order to finish reading on time.

SJG • 10/10/15: The fall leaf, hanging in the air on a a spider web...

The FILM CLUB is done for the 2015 season, and we closed with 'Kwaidan: Stories and Studies of Strange Things', directed by Masaki Kobayashi (1964).  I want to use this space to tell you that if you are striving to understand the Japanese culture you definitely should see it!  The film is described and categorized in English as 'horror', so I joined the screening  somewhat reluctantly as I don't find this  particular genre especially appealing.

But Kaidan (怪談) (sometimes transliterated kwaidan) is a Japanese word consisting of two kanji: 怪 (kai) meaning “strange, mysterious, rare or bewitching apparition" and 談 (dan) meaning “talk” or “recited narrative”  (from wikipedia), which slightly explains why I was pleasantly surprised that I did not see I thought I would... It is a hauntingly beautiful film consisting of four separate stories, based on Lafcadio Hearn's collections of Japanese folk tales. And there you have it: those a bit hard to penetrate tales of Heike, imperial court intrigues and zen philosophy suddenly get a backdrop that makes them accessible... The film won the Special Jury Prize at the 1965 Cannes Film Festival, and received an Academy Award nomination for Best Foreign Language Film.   Roger Ebert described Kwaidan as "an assembly of ghost stories that is among the most beautiful films I've seen" and I share his opinion.

BUTOH reminder:  next Saturday, October 17th, 8 pm in Taoist Studies Institute: An evening of two new butoh works inspired by Polish theater director Tadeusz Kantor
8 pm @ Taoist Studies Institute, 225 N 70th St, Seattle 98103
Tickets $12 or $15 at the door. Reservations are highly recommended: laagekogut@fastmail.com
http://www.daipanbutoh.com/performances/

SJG • 10/10/15: full moon maple leaf on the path

And finally, a thrilling BOOK I just came across: ‘Garden Plants of Japan’  by Ran-Levy-Yamamori and Gerard Taafee (2004): same plants as in our Garden + oodles of useful info on how those plants do in their native habitat: what a great cultural/botanical/geographical/climate read!  For instance, did you know that cryptomeria japonica grows in wild on both sides of the islands?  But here is a clincher:  cryptomeria on the side of the Sea of Japan adapted to a heavy snowfall with branches that sweep downwards, allowing snow to slide off them without causing much damage to the trees; while cryptomeria on the Pacific Ocean side have branches that are more horizontal and cannot bear big amounts of snow. Amazing...

Kaidan trailer:



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