Chicago Shimpo
Japanese Summer Festival in Anderson Gardens
Visitors Enjoy Many Interactive Events

• Under the blue sky, thousands of visitors enjoyed Japanese Summer Festival at the Anderson Gardens in Rockford on July 27 and 28. David Anderson of the Gardens welcomed the visitors, and the Festival opened with taiko drumming performance by the Ho-Etsu Taiko.
• Seiran Chiba, a calligrapher from Fukushima, Japan, drew two kanji characters on a huge paper with pleasant rhythms of the taiko drumming. Her calligraphy was read “Reiwa”, the era name of the new Emperor of Japan which meant “Beautiful Harmony.” She also drew kanji characters “play music” and “circle” on two different small papers and said, “These two characters also represent harmony that is important for our peaceful lives.”

• At the Event Pavilion, popular Candyman amazed the audience with his magical performance. Martial arts demonstrations were displayed by Bujinkan dojo, Stephen Toyoda and his aikido team, and Shurikenjitsu by Meifu Shinkage Ryu. Beautiful Japanese traditional music and dances were also performed by the Chicago Koto Group and the Mikoren Awa Odori Chicago respectively.

• At the Guest House circle, haiku poem making and small ikebana making were offered. Many visitors made a haiku poem, and their poems were added to the Gardens’ tree. The visitors who made an ikebana arrangement could bring it to their home. The members of Midwest Cosplay Group were walking around the Gardens, so the visitors could take a photo with them.
• Near the West Waterfall, “teru-teru bozu” making (a wishing charm for sunny day) was offered, and many visitors wrote their wishes on a paper and tied it to a tanabata (star festival) tree. A variety of interactive activities entertained the visitors all the days.

• Inside of the Visitor Center, children tried the challenge of Candy Sushi making, origami paper arts, and sumie drawing. The visitors were also challenged to become a samurai by trying on a set of armor offered by the Consulate General of Japan in Chicago. Colorful kimono dresses by Ohio Kimono, Koi Art Kakejiku and T-shirts by Jack Matsumoto, handmade goods and collectibles, even an old soroban calculator were available for souvenir seekers.

• On a hot summer day, the members of tennis group, Project Love All, were busying themselves to sell shaved ice to help resurgence of the tsunami hit area of Tohoku. For hungry visitors, hearth-baked pizza and Thai cuisine were offered.

• A series of the tea ceremony was offered at the Guest House, Tea House, and Gazebo next to the West Waterfall.
• On the first day, Kimiko Gunji, Professor Emeritus of the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, gave a brief lecture on tea ceremony at the Guest House where tatami mats were newly restored. She taught about the four most important elements of the tea ceremony-harmony, respect, purity and tranquility-and the seven rules of the tea.
• She served her handmade sweets called wagashi before a bowl of tea. A piece of sweet was lucid Japanese jello with floating fruits inside of it.
• Gunji has authored and published a book “WAGASHI: The Art of Japanese Confectionery”.

The People in the Garden

• On the deck of the Pond Strolling Garden, Jeff Patchin and his students were cooling themselves for a while. Patchin is “Shihan” master instructor of Bujinkan Dojo with the 10th degree black belt.
• He started practicing Shotokan karate when he was a teenager and continued it for 15 years. At a point, he realize that his real interest was in the old warrior arts and found Masaaki Hatsumi who had studied under Toshitsugu Takamatsu and inherited all of Takamatsu’s warrior arts of nine schools. Hatsumi finally combined the nine schools arts into one and founded Bujinkan Budo and became Soke, the head of the school. He has been still active at age 87.
• Patchin researched again and found James Morganelli in the Greater Chicago area, who had studied the arts in Japan. He practiced Bujinkan Budo very hard with Morganelli and others later. In 2005 he first visited Hatsumi in Japan and he was awarded a title of “Shidoshi” instructor with the 5th degree black belt. He often visited Japan and presently he is Shihan with 10 dan (the 10th degree black belt).
• Patchin said, “(In Bujinkan Budo) we focus on protecting and defending life, and that makes life a better way to live. It’s not about fighting or killing. It’s really about life, protecting your own, maybe a victim, even your enemy if it were possible.” He also said, “Always be a student; that is only way to share teaching what you don’t know.”
• Bujinkan Dojo in Rockford area has practiced on Mondays and Thursdays at the Anderson Gardens.

Mary and Raj were strolling on the path in the Garden. Mary had heard of the Garden from her acquaintance and decided to come.
• Mary is from Pakistan, and Raj is from India. Raj said, “This Japanese Garden brought us together,”

George Masten, who was wearing a T-shirt with Japanese letters “Asahi”, first visited the Anderson Gardens with his uncle Scott Wells. Although he bought the T-shirt in a local store, he had visited Japan two years ago. It was a school trip while he was learning the Japanese language.
• Wells said, “We just came out for the entire experience of being here and to see what everybody was doing, all the different things.” He also said that he and his nephew especially enjoyed taiko drumming.

Cara Dailey found the Summer Festival through online and came to join it for the first time.
• When Shimpo asked her name, amazingly she said, “Katakana or English?” She studied Japanese language in a school and lived in Tokyo and Kita-kyushu City for seven years.
• She is an artist and presently works on visual arts and some clothing. “In Japan, I started doing keshigomu (eraser) to carve into little stamps,” she said.

Castanon family came to the Garden for the first time because their son had visited it before and loved it.
• Mother Maribel said, “It’s beautiful, very, very nice and natural. I can’t go to Japan, so we came to visit here.”
• Elder daughter Selena said, “It’s not something I see every day, so we are very excited. Younger daughter Ruby said, “I honestly think that I entered Asian culture. I love it here. I can’t go to Asia myself, so I just think that it’s so beautiful, wonderful. Oh, my dream came true.”

• Near the Event Pavilion, Andy and Lorna Gilbert were selling handmade crafts made of kimono fabrics. Lorna said, “We lived in Japan for 21 years. After the Tsunami, we moved into the Tohoku area, Ishinomaki, and we were working to help as volunteers in that area.”
• The couple are missionaries of the Evangelical Free Church of America. Lorna met her neighbor, who lost her father in the tsunami, and heard that she could make things from old kimono fabrics and needed help from the couple.
• The couple knew that about 70 % to 80 % of the neighbor’s area, Onagawa, was wiped away by the tsunami and needed employments for recovery, so the couple organized Megumi Project. The neighbor trained young mothers to make crafts, and now the couple has been paying hourly wages for eight women.
• Lorna said that her husband and she just returned to their Naperville home two days ago.

Andy and Lorna Gilbert


Candyman Masaji Terasawa entertains the audience with his magical performance at the Anderson Japanese Gardens’ Summer Festival.
Calligrapher Seiran Chiba from Fukushima, Japan, draws kanji characters Reiwa which means “Beautiful Harmony.”


The visitors are interested in Japanese musical instrument “koto”.


Stephen Toyada (R) and his team demonstrate aikido.


Jeff Patchin of Bujinkan Dojo and his students



George Masten (R) and Scott Wells


Cara Dailey (R) and her friend


Castanon family: from left, daddy, Maribel, Selena, and Ruby