Gardens Celebrates Opening Day of the Season
• Anderson Gardens in Rockford celebrated
its opening day on May 3rd, and the visitors enjoyed a variety of entertainments
in the Gardens where bright pink azalea beautifully blossomed.
• On the deck near the West Waterfall, kendama was magically played. It is a Japanese traditional game and similar to the American ball and cup game. Children also enjoyed creating a carp flag. It is called “koinobori” in Japan, and is hung outside of a house to celebrate Children’s Day on May 5 th.
• In the Visitor Center, the Spring Valley
Koto Ensemble played beautiful Japanese music. Koto is a thirteen-stringed
instrument similar to the harp and played with Japanese traditional music
notes, but the ensemble played “Yesterday”, a well known piece for everyone.
Takako Bassett, the leader of the ensemble, sometimes gives lectures about
koto in the Gardens.
• Bonsai trees were displayed by the Rock
River Bonsai Society. Neil Hamilton, a member of the society, has been volunteering
as a tour guide in the Anderson Gardens. He first saw a picture of bonsai
when he was in high school and began to grow bonsai 35 years ago when he became
50 years old.
• Regarding his connection to Japan, he said that he first visited Japan in 1953 when he was in the U.S. Army. He and his family took care of Japanese students as a host family in the 1980s, and then his son was deployed to the air force base in Tachikawa, Tokyo. He visited his son twice in 1988 and 1990 for three weeks at each visit. He smiled and said that his grandchild was born in Japan.
• David Mulvain is also a member of the society
and created a Japanese garden in his home. It is 60’ by 60’ and mostly surrounded
by hedges. Originally, he began to work on the garden to secure privacy, but
as a bonsai person, he planted trees which could be used for bonsai. He converted
a shed to a Japanese pagoda and planted bamboo and other trees.
• For the opening celebration, the Anderson Gardens offered a rare opportunity to tour the Guest House in the Gardens. The Guest House is authentic sukiya style, which was built in Japan, then reassembled in the Garden. It has a tatami-mat room and bedroom with a wooden bathtub, and you can overlook a beautiful stone garden.
• A slope from the Guest House leads to a stream, and a sukiya style teahouse is located across the stream. When you leave the teahouse and walk toward the west, you’ll find a big waterfall, which leads to the Garden of Reflection. If you walk toward the east, you’ll find the Pond Strolling Garden where you can spend time in tranquility.
• Anderson Gardens were created by John R.
Anderson, who received Japanese Emperor’s award “The Order of the Rising Sun,
Gold and Silver Rays” in 2011. He first visited Japan in 1966 and was impressed
by Japanese people’s appreciation for nature and its beauty.
• Anderson Gardens:
The Anderson Gardens, Pond Strolling Garden
Spring Valley Koto Ensemble
Bonsai Exhibit by the Rock River Bonsai Society
East Waterfall – O Taki
Shishi-odoshi near the Guesthouse
Okinawa Traditional Dance
Okinawa Traditional Music
Neil Hamilton (L) and David Mulvain
Tsukubai in the Pond Strolling Garden
Ho Etsu Taiko