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Anderson 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.
• Under the Pavilion and surrounding lawns, the Bujinkan Shingitai-Ichi Dojo of Rockford demonstrated the “Divine Warrior Arts”. The Ho Etsu Taiko from Chicago performed taiko drumming with choreographed movements, and the Chicago Okinawa Kenjinkai attracted the visitors with the traditional Okinawa dance and taiko performances. Children also enjoyed iris-shoot planting, which was situated adjacent to the Pavilion. The plants were donated by Carlson Growers.

• 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.
• Other activities such as origami, Japanese calligraphy, top spinning, pottery demonstration, and bonsai exhibition entertained the visitors all the day.

• 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.
• He said that he killed a lot of trees, so he obtained some books and learned, little by little, about bonsai. More than a dozen members of the society get together once a month and teach each other.
• His bonsai at the exhibit was 35 years old, which he found in a Rockford field. He said that watering was the one of most difficult things to do in caring for bonsai. He also said, “Another thing is what kind of dirt to plant trees in. That takes a long time to decide which one would work best for me.”

• 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.
• Mulvain said, “Bonsai trees are works of art, and I love the outdoors. I get a huge amount of joy from bonsai, just sitting or working with trees while cutting away and shaping until I get what I want. I get more joy out of making them than I do in having them.”

• 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.
• He found a garden designer, Hoichi Kurisu in Oregon and began to construct Japanese gardens on his premises in 1978. He gradually expanded the gardens to the west, and added the Guest House, teahouse, waterfall, wooden bridges, the Garden of Reflection, and sukiya style gate.
• The Gardens were originally private, but Mr. Anderson opened them to the public at the request of local people.
• In recent years, Mr. David Anderson has administered the Anderson Gardens.

• Anderson Gardens:
• 318 Spring Creek Road
• Rockford, IL
• 815-229-9390

The Anderson Gardens, Pond Strolling Garden
The Spring Valley Koto Ensemble

Japanese Calligraphy

Pottery Demonstration

Bonsai Exhibit by the Rock River Bonsai Society

East Waterfall – O Taki

Shishi-odoshi near the Guesthouse
Okinawa Taiko Performance

Okinawa Traditional Dance

Okinawa Traditional Music

Neil Hamilton (L) and David Mulvain

Tsukubai in the Pond Strolling Garden

Ho Etsu Taiko