Michael Kenna in Hokkaido

I took the photo above rather in tribute to Michael Kenna. He is one of my favorite photographers.  He first came to my attention about 15 years ago, and I have been following his career ever since.  He works exclusively in Black and White film.  His photos are a meditation just to look at and remind me strongly of black and white sumie paintings.

I actually got to meet him in Seattle and he signed my first edition of his book, Japan. It came in a beautiful black silk slipcase with an embossed kanji for Nihon on the outside.  Inside the book cover is rising sun red with a simple white JAPAN on the outside.  As part of the exhibition, you were given a clipboard and paper and encouraged to write haiku as you went around the gallery to view the photos.

He has done much more work since then, in France, San Francisco, England and all of them very much in the same style.  I have several of his calendars that I turn over and over again.  You can see more if his work here.  And if you are so moved to purchase and support this artist, his publisher is Nazraeli Press where you can purchase a calendar for this year. Continue reading

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Matcha Tea Tasting with Aoi Tea Company

Last week I had an opportunity to attend a matcha tea tasting with the Aoi Tea company.

It was educational to see how they taste and grade matcha.   To begin with, we looked at the tencha leaves.  The tea plants for matcha are grown under shade, and the tender leaves are harvested, immediately steamed and dried. Then the leaf part from in between the veins are used.This is tencha, before the leaves are ground.

I don’t know if you can see here, but there is a definite difference in the color of the leaves.  The pile on the left is a darker richer color green and is judged higher quality, the pile on the right is lighter and yellower and js judged lower quality. Continue reading

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Intensive Japanese Gardening in Japan

The Research Center for Japanese Garden Art and Historical Heritage is pleased to announce the 15th annual English language intensive course in the history, design theory, landscape ecology, and practice of the Japanese Garden.

The two-week program (July 30 -August 10, 2012) offers serious students from abroad a number of unique opportunities to study the Japanese garden. Some days will be divided between site visits and lectures on campus, but there will be several all-day excursions as well. On-site lectures will be given in some gardens that are usually not open to the public. The 15th seminar is now in the process of accepting applications for review and selection. In order to provide maximum personal attention, we strive for a group limited to not more than 25 students. However, if there are not enough applications, and the resulting number of selected participants is less than 20, the seminar may be canceled.Anyone with a serious interest in Japanese gardens can join the two-week Intensive Seminar Plus at a cost of 420,000 Japanese yen (about $5,380 USD at ¥78/$1). Students under the age of 35 who are enrolled full time in a school or university can participate at a reduced fee of 350,000 Japanese yen, but have to submit proof of their age and full-time enrollment. This seminar fee covers: all lectures, entrance fees and transportations to site visits, excursions, course materials exclusive for participants, and rooms with breakfast in a comfortable inn (13 nights at shared rooms) for the duration of the course.


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