Painting the beauty of a Japanese garden.

Lower Pond – San Diego Japanese Friendship Garden, by artist Ronald Ray Reekers, oil on canvas.

How does one paint the beauty of a Japanese garden? The answer can be found at the Japanese Friendship Garden in San Diego’s Balboa Park.

“Visual Harmony in Japanese Gardens and the Beauty of Bonsai” is the title of the current exhibition in JFG’s Exhibit Hall.

Selected work by Southern California artist Ronald Ray Reekers is displayed, including oils, etchings, pastels and charcoal drawings.

What I found most interesting are written descriptions he provides of how to create bonsai and Japanese garden artwork. His art is driven by curiosity and passion.

If you’re an artist, you can visit his YouTube channel here. There are various technical demonstrations and lessons concerning Bonsai Drawing!

Shizuoka Shrine, by artist Ronald Ray Reekers, etching.
Viewing the art of Ronald Ray Reekers in the Exhibit Hall at the Japanese Friendship Garden.
Garden lantern, by artist Ronald Ray Reekers, oil on canvas.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

Replica WWII incarceration barrack at Central Library.

Just inside the entrance to the Central Library in downtown San Diego stands a life-size model barrack. It accurately replicates barracks that were used to incarcerate Japanese-Americans during World War II.

The model barrack was built by Frank Wada, who was sent to the Poston “Relocation Center” in Arizona, before being released to fight in the war. He was ultimately awarded a Bronze Star and Purple Heart.

In 1942 ten prison camps were built in the United States to incarcerate those with Japanese ancestry. About 120,000 people were imprisoned in these camps. The model barrack shows what life was like for those who were forced to live away from their homes, with little comfort or privacy.

An exhibit in the Central Library’s 9th floor Art Gallery, titled Call to Serve: Clara E. Breed and the Japanese American Incarceration, is on view through January 30, 2022. It documents how San Diego city librarian Clara Estelle Breed was an active opponent of Executive Order 9066, the internment policy instituted by President Franklin Roosevelt in February 1942.

On Saturday afternoon I rode the elevator up to the library’s rooftop to see the exhibition, but for some reason the Art Gallery was closed. I’ll try again in the future!

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

Amazing wave and surfing art in Balboa Park!

Whenever I walk through Balboa Park, I almost always spend some time at the Japanese Friendship Garden, even if it’s only for a few minutes.

Today I noticed there’s new artwork on display in the Exhibit Hall. It concerns breaking ocean waves, and includes many images of surfers on surfboards. The art is so vivid and unique, it’s hard to describe.

The exhibition is titled Hokusai Waves. It showcases the work of San Diego photographer Kotaro Moromura, whose images are inspired by Japanese Ukiyo-e painter and printmaker Katsushika Hokusai.

Powerfully curling water and flying droplets, captured with a high camera shutter speed, seem to leap right out of the display cases. The images are not unlike the impressively crashing waves created by artist Katsushika Hokusai.

As you can see from a couple of my photos, the wave images that include surfers are dynamic and definitely very cool!

Anyone visiting San Diego for the next several days for the international World Surf League Championship event up at Trestles might enjoy a peek at these!

Learn more about Hokusai Waves here!

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

A very fun Tanabata Festival in San Diego!

The Tanabata Festival was held today at the Japanese Friendship Garden in Balboa Park!

This always fun festival included traditional Japanese kimonos, art, crafts, kids games, yummy food, the making of kokedama (Japanese moss balls) and other family activities.

Most importantly, visitors to the festival had the opportunity to write their own special wish!

Tanabata has its origin in a story about the Japanese deities Orihime and Hikoboshi, who shine in the heavens as stars. The Milky Way separates the two lovers who can only meet once a year. Tanabata is that day.

According to the Japanese Friendship Garden’s website here, “A common practice during Tanabata is to decorate the nanatsu kazari, or seven decorations…” Different types of ornaments are hung from bamboo trees to bring luck, skill, health or success.

I noticed many messages had already been hung. The hands of many at the festival wished for happiness in life!

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

Tape Art at the Japanese Friendship Garden!

I didn’t know tape art was a “thing” until I happened to walk into the Exhibit Hall at the Japanese Friendship Garden this weekend. And what I discovered blew me away!

This unique exhibition, simply titled Tape Art, has been on display for some time now, so shame on me, as a JFG member, for not knowing about it!

The artist is Chiho Harazaki. She utilizes adhesive tape that is cut into fine shapes to create artwork that is detailed and quite amazing. I photographed a few of her pieces so you can get an idea of what you’ll see when you pay a visit.

Some of the works on display depict daily life in Japan. Some appear like colorful Hanafuda, a style of Japanese playing cards. A few of her works, including a piece that is quite large and striking, concern the horror of Hiroshima at the end of World War II, and make an appeal to the viewer for peace.

Should you visit Balboa Park before July 25, 2021, step into the Japanese Friendship Garden. That’s when the exhibition Tape Art concludes.

Then, after viewing this art, be sure to walk down into the Lower Garden. It’s one of the most beautiful places in San Diego.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

The pure joy of Naruwan Taiko!

Pure joy.

Take a look at the faces of Naruwan Taiko. The San Diego taiko group performed yesterday afternoon in City Heights at Music en la Calle.

Imagine listening to these drums beating in unison. They shake you to the core with their thundering unabashed joy.

The unstoppable beats transmit a resounding Love of Life.

Diana, founder and director of the taiko group, wrote the final piece. It slowly rose, gained energy, soared. As it soared each member of Naruwan Taiko took a turn with their own unique drumming.

Diana explained how taiko awakens something big within you.

That big thing sounds like a heartbeat.

If you want to wear a smile that big, and get a good workout, too, why not join Naruwan Taiko? Here’s their website!

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Monument honors South Bay Issei Pioneers.

In Chula Vista, at the corner of Palomar Street and Broadway, you’ll find busy shopping malls in every direction. And thousands of passing cars.

What you won’t see, unless you are one of the few who walk down the sidewalk, is a bronze plaque on a stone set back among bushes. This small monument to South Bay Issei Pioneers marks the place where the Chula Vista Gakuen or Japanese School stood when it was dedicated in 1925.

I’ve transcribed what I read on the plaque. (Issei are immigrants born in Japan. Nisei are their children, born in the new country.)

SOUTH BAY ISSEI PIONEERS

Initially arriving in 1885, these immigrants from Japan, through their intellect, diligence, and tenacity made numerous major contributions to the agricultural development of this area. These accomplishments were achieved at the same time as the issei were fighting discrimination, unfair land laws, and ultimately, the mass removal of all person of Japanese ancestry from the West Coast of the United States during World War II. This site marks the final location of the Chula Vista Gakuen or Japanese School, which was originally dedicated on October 6, 1925. The school helped nisei children to better understand and honor their heritage.

Japanese American Citizens League San Diego Chapter

Japanese American Historical Society of San Diego
September 1996

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of photos for you to enjoy!

Cherry blossoms appear in Balboa Park!

Spring must be around the corner, because pink clouds of cherry blossoms have appeared in Balboa Park’s beautiful Japanese Friendship Garden!

I arrived at Balboa Park late this afternoon, after a long walk elsewhere in San Diego. Luckily I captured the last rays of sunlight filtering into JFG’s Lower Garden, with its many Japanese cherry trees.

Enjoy a few photos…

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of photos for you to enjoy!

Thousands of origami cranes help heal San Diego.

A large display case inside the Japanese Friendship Garden’s beautiful Inamori Pavilion contains “one thousand” colorful origami cranes. They were created by members of the community from March through July of 2020 to help reassure and heal San Diego during the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic.

A sign in the display case explains: “In Japanese culture, the crane is a symbol of longevity and happiness. The one thousand origami cranes were originally popularized through the story of a Japanese girl, Sadako, who was exposed to radiation from the atomic bombing of Hiroshima during World War II. She soon developed leukemia and began making origami cranes with the goal of making one thousand, inspired by the senbazuru legend…”

According to Wikipedia: “The crane in Japan is one of the mystical or holy creatures (others include the dragon and the tortoise) and is said to live for a thousand years.” You can learn more about the ancient Japanese senbazuru legend by clicking here.

People throughout San Diego actually contributed over 2000 paper origami cranes for this very powerful display. Many hopeful hands worked together to help us all get through an extremely difficult period.

If you’d like to be moved and comforted by these “one thousand” cranes, head to the Japanese Friendship Garden in Balboa Park. The Inamori Pavilion can be found in the Lower Garden.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

Violinist learns San Diego, the Beautiful.

This afternoon, a street performer in Balboa Park who plays violin learned how to play San Diego, the Beautiful. I stood and watched with wonder as he deliberately worked out the notes.

San Diego, the Beautiful is engraved on a black marble tablet near the entrance to the Japanese Friendship Garden. The song is well known in Yokohama, Japan, but less known in San Diego, its sister city.

If you’d like to hear San Diego, the Beautiful, click here!

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!