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The 5th Japanese Summer Festival in Anderson Gardens

• The Anderson Gardens in Rockford held the fifth Japanese Summer Festival on July 30 and 31 and drew more than 3,200 visitors. They enjoyed walking in the authentic Japanese gardens and learning firsthand Japanese traditional arts through performers, musicians, and artisans who flew from Japan.

• David Anderson of the Gardens welcomed the visitors saying, “We are so pleased, and everybody is here today to experience the traditional cultural arts of Japan,” at the opening ceremony.
• Illinois State Senator Dave Syverson and Rockford Mayor Larry Morrissey greeted the visitors and applauded the Anderson family who created one of the top Japanese gardens in the U.S. Mayor Morrissey said, “The Anderson Gardens is certainly not only the community asset, but also an asset that helps us to build bridges internationally.”

• Consul General of Japan Toshiyuki Iwado explained the meaning of the Garden’s circular symbol, which conveyed a message “to know you have enough.” “The Anderson Japanese Gardens is a perfect backdrop of the symbol,” he said.
• Consul General Iwado mentioned that nearly 50,000 people from all over the U.S. and 26 countries visited the Gardens last year and had the rich cultural experiences. He thanked the Anderson family, staff members, and volunteers for hosting the annual festival.

• David Johnson, President of the Japan America Society of Chicago informed the audience that David Anderson had joined the Society’s board, and the Society’s purpose – fostering relationship and friendship between the people of Japan and the U.S. - was exactly the same as the Gardens’.

• Toshio Kawai, Vice Chair of U.S.-Japan Relations Committee of JCCC, Professor Emeritus Kimiko Gunji at University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana, President Kaz Shimizu of Kikkoman Foods, and Steve Jensen, who was born and raised in Japan, spoke about the Gardens and their experiences.

• The Anderson Gardens was created by John Anderson and his wife Linda 38 years ago as their private gardens. On the people’s request, the couple opened the Gardens to the public.
• At the end of the ceremony, David Anderson painted an eye in the face of a dharma doll wishing the festival to continue for years to come.


• The Summer Festival started with taiko drumming by Ho Etsu Taiko followed by a calligraphy performance by Seiran Chiba from Fukushima Prefecture. Chicago Koto Group played Japanese traditional music, and Kazume Mizuki danced with the music. This year, Awa Odori Chicago, a dancing troop in colorful kimono uniforms, newly joined the Festival and cheered up the audience. Hanauta Duo made a beautiful harmony of Japanese and Eastern European flavor by playing violin and flute. Bujinkan Dojo also demonstrated their skills near the event pavilion.

• Food always delights people. The Project Love All, a volunteer group for Tohoku’s revival served ramen noodles. The group invited a student from Tohoku to 2016 Kizuna event, which commemorated the victims and resilience in Tohoku, by the proceeds from ramen sales last year. Pizza baked in a furnace was also popular. Handcrafts made by the people in Tohoku were exhibited and sold near the food tents.

• Tea ceremonies were demonstrated in the Guest House, and a group of people tasted a sweet and a bowl of tea in the 16th century’s sukiya style house. Professor Emeritus Kimiko Gunji made a lecture about chanoyu by referring to the things in the daily life. Bowls of tea were also served at the Gazebo near the West Waterfall.

• Takaaki Saida, Kyo-garden lantern artist, and Akihiro Mashimo, bamboo fence maker, demonstrated their traditional works at a square near the Guest House. Both artists flew from Kyoto to attend the Festival.

• Saida is the fifth generation of the Stonesmith Saida Sekizai, which was established in 1902. With his 17 years of a stone-related career, he is a certified first class stone sculptor. He carved a cubic stone and made Anderson Gardens’ circular symbol.

• Mashimo is a certified Traditional Craftsman in Traditional Bamboo Fencing in Nagaoka-Kyo City, Kyoto. Being born and raised in a bamboo circumstance, he was interested in becoming a craftsman and has worked in Nagaoka Meichiku Co. for 19 years. His works included building bamboo fences at Katsura Rikyu, Heian Jingu, and Kasiwara Jingu. They all have a long and distinguished history. His creation of a-mile-long-bamboo promenade is one of the most popular walking trails in Japan.

• The bamboos for his demonstration were locally harvested. Mashimo said, “American bamboos are very different from ones in Japan.” He usually splits a thick piece of bamboo to make a thin, flat material for a fence, but the local bamboos were broken into pieces. He examined all the bamboos and finally found thinner bamboos for his demonstration.

• In the Visitor Center, a variety of arts were introduced such as bonsai exhibit, Raku Pottery demonstration, origami instruction, fukuwarai game, falconry table, samurai warrior costumes, and Ohio Kimonos for sale.
• One exhibitor, Motoko Izumi of Artezanato Studio in Naperville, displayed her retro flavored collections. She was instrumental to bring the two craftsmen from Kyoto and Satsuma Button artist Shiho Murota from Kagoshima Prefecture.

Satsuma Button

• A Satsuma button is small porcelain decorated with very fine drawings and pigments. The technique of the button flourished in 18th century in Satsuma (now Kagoshima Prefecture), but slowly died out by the 1960s. Shiho Muroto, who had been working to decorate the tea sets for 10 years, was fascinated by the beauty of Satsuma button and decided to revive the technique. She opened her own atelier “Satsuma Shishi” in 2005 and won a special award of Button Grand-prix in 2010.
• She was going to attend a convention in Denver organized by the National Button Society, and stopped by the Festival before the convention.

The Visitors in the Festival

• Susan Hooper of Chicago came to the Garden for the first time and said, “It’s beautiful, magnificent, rustic, and I’m so happy that we came.” She bought a kimono dress at Anime Central and first wore it at a public event. “We are just getting some history about the Gardens, and incredible peace to have here,” she continued.

• Christian and his family are originally from Brazil and have settled in Illinois. He said that his colleague recommended him to visit the Garden saying, “One on the most beautiful Japanese gardens in the U.S.” He saw it in the internet first and thought that it was the right time to visit the Gardens.


• After the Festival ended, David Anderson expressed his deep appreciation for the performers, artists, exhibitors, vendors, and volunteers, especially, the three craftsmen, who came all the way from Japan. “There was a lot of audience interest in what they were doing. Ho Etsu Taiko is always a crowd pleaser, and new this year was the Awaodori Chicago dance group who got many members of the audience on their feet and dancing. It was fun to see so many people of different cultural backgrounds dancing with Awaodori Chicago,” Anderson said

The Summer Festival starts with Ho Etsu Taiko's performance.

Consul General Toshiyuki Iwado (R) and Rockford Mayor
Larry Morrissey break a sake barrel to open the fifth
Japapnese Summer Festival.

The Garden's circular symbol conveys a message
"to know you have enough."

David Anderson (R) paints an eye in the dharma doll’s
face wishing the festival continues for years to come.

Chicago Koto Group and Kazume Mizuki perform Japanese
traditional music and dance.

Shiho Murota, Satsuma Button artist

Takaaki Saida, stone lantern artist

Akihiro Mashimo, bamboo fence maker

Susan Hooper of Chicago visits the Gardens for the
first time.

Christian and his family saw the Gardens' website and
decided to come.