Anderson Gardens Brings Many Artisans and Artists from Japan to Summer Festival
The Anderson Gardens in Rockford held the sixth Japanese Summer Festival on August 19 and 20 and drew thousands of visitors. This year many traditional artisans, artists, and performers participated in the festival from many parts of Japan and the U.S. Some of them were Kyo-garden lantern artist Takaaki Saida, bamboo fence maker Akihiro Mashimo, Soryu ceramic artist Madoka Wakinami, Satsuma Button artist Shiho Murota, and special guest performers from the Super Team in the Nippon Ginkenshibu Foundation, who presented stunning sword dancing.
The Summer Festival started with taiko drumming by Ho Etsu Taiko followed by a calligraphy performance by Seiran Chiba from Fukushima Prefecture, Kagura-Mask Dances by Supasari who narrated Japanese myths, sword dancing by the Super Team, martial arts by Bujinkan Dojo, Aikido demonstrations, Awa Odori by Chicago Mikoren Dancing troop, and Koto music by Chicago Koto Group. This year, popular Candyman Masaji Terasawa returned to the Festival.
In the Visitor Center, falconry; Satsuma button, which is small porcelain decorated with very fine drawings and pigments; and ikebana were demonstrated and displayed. Seiran Chiba drew calligraphy on the requests by visitors. Soryu potteries were displayed and also available for sale. Kimono dresses were sold by Ohio Kimono, and the visitors enjoyed trying on samurai armor, which were brought by the members of the Consulate General of Japan in Chicago.
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. Bowls of tea were also served at the Gazebo near the
In the opening ceremony, David Anderson welcomed the
Consul General Naoki Ito talked about the Japanese gardens saying, “Japanese gardens are great example of admiration and co-existing with nature by emphasizing the beauty of Japan’s natural landscape instead of altering it.” He also said, “Being at the Anderson Gardens, you will be able to feel distinct tranquility and healing power of Japanese gardens.” He added that he was pleased that Summer Festival was held in such a place and deepened relationship between the people of Rockford and Japan.
Mari Yamamoto, Chair of the U.S.-Japan Relations Committee in the Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Chicago (JCCC), said that the Anderson Gardens are gem in the U.S. and praised the well -maintained gardens and staff’s hard work. She also explained the meaning of the hanging scroll in the Guest House that five kanji characters were telling visitors, “Every day is a good day,” “So, please enjoy every minute and every corner of the gardens,” she said.
Professor Emeritus Kimiko Gunji at University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana said that John Anderson planted a seed of the garden with his wife Linda 39 years ago, and it has grown to the today’s Anderson Gardens. “If each person plants one seed of peace, we’ll get one step closer to the world peace. Let’s enjoy the festival and plant a seed of peace together,” she said.
Kazuo Shimizu, President of the Kikkoman Food, which has been a longtime supporter of the Anderson Gardens, said, “When you enter the gardens, it is like walking into another world where your worries would fade away. While you are here, meet new people, listen to new music sounds. Embracing new things could enrich your life, and if you do that, you might begin to understand why you love Japan so much.”
David Anderson answered Shimpo’s interview and said,
“It is great to see so many people from so many different ethnic backgrounds
come together to broaden their understanding of the traditional Japanese
Traditional Artisans from Kyoto
Madoka Wakunami brought ceramic art of Kyo Yaki Soryu,
from Kyoto for the first time and demonstrated it by using a tool called
“tobi kanna”. It leaped quickly on a ceramic surface and created unique
dots on it.
Kyo-garden lantern artist Takaaki Saida is the fifth generation of the Stonesmith Saida Sekizai, which was established in 1902. This year, he carved a kanji character “奏” on the surface of a stone, which is called “Musician’s Stone” in the Anderson Gardens. He said that the character’s meaning was to play an instrument; however, it had many more meanings in our lives. (http://www.saidasekizai.com)
Bamboo fence maker Akihiro Mashimo was born and raised in a bamboo circumstance in Nagaoka-Kyo City. Twenty years of his works at Nagaoka Meichiku Co. are included at famous temples and shrines, such as Katsura Rikyu, Heian Jingu, and Kasiwara Jingu. This year, he brought bamboos from Japan because local ones were very different from Japan’s, so he could make a thin, flat material for a fence from a thick piece of bamboo. (http://nagaokameichku.com)
What are Gin-Ei, Gin-Ken, Shi-bu?
According to Hedeharu Hirowatari, Executive Director
and Secretary General of the Nippon Ginkenshibu Foundation, “gin-ei” is
reading an old Chinese poem with a melody; “gin-ken” is dancing with swords;
and shi-bu is dancing with fans. Both dances come with gin-ei.
The foundation will celebrate its 50th anniversary next year and is planning to send 250 to 260 members overseas to introduce the old arts. As a prelude of the anniversary, the foundation selected 12 performers from the Super Team to visit Summer Festival in the Anderson Gardens. Each of the 12 members had won the first or second place in local competitions, then national competitions. Their performances were highly sophisticated due to a longtime, strict practice in their own schools.
Shoho Irikura is a college student in Tokyo and, his
home in Aichi Prefecture is the school of Nihon Soshin Ryu. He began to
learn ken-bu and shi-bu when he was two or three years old.
Gaiko Soutome started ken-bu and shi-bu when he was
three at the school of Shintomunengaizan Ryu in Utsunomiya, Tochigi Prefecture.
His grandfather and his mother performed the arts as a hobby, so it was
natural for him to do it. He has lived in Tokyo in recent years and teaches
the arts while he sells fans as his job.
Masachie Tada is daughter of the Seigi Ryu Shibu Dokokai
School and began to learn shi-bu when she entered grade school. She said
that her father didn’t allow her to practice it until she could make her
own decision to do it.
Kasei Morita is a gin-ei singer and started it when
she was three because her grandparents and parents operated gin-ei classes
in Kagoshima Prefecture. Her family’s original school is the Gindo Tosei
Ryu in Miyazaki. She went to Miyazaki to learn about it, and the master
of the school came to Kagoshima to teach.
Opening Ceremony, Kampai with sake
Hoetsu Taiko and calligraphy by Seiran Chiba (R)
Madoka Wakunami with John and Linda Anderson
Kyo-garden Lantern Artist Takaaki Saida
Bamboo fence maker Akihiro Mashimo
Performance Gin-Ken. Shoho Irikura is front.