300 year old Kannon statue in Balboa Park!

Visitors to the Japanese Friendship Garden gaze at Kannon Bosatsu, a nearly three century old 5750 pound bronze statue recently installed in the Lower Garden by crane!
Visitors to the Japanese Friendship Garden gaze at Kannon Bosatsu, a nearly three century old 5750 pound bronze statue recently installed in the Lower Garden!

Several days ago an astonishing 5750 pound bronze statue, created in 1735 by Takumi Obata, was installed by crane at the Japanese Friendship Garden!

I must apologize, because up until now I have been referring to the new statue as a Great Buddha. After seeing the magnificent sculpture firsthand today, and reading more about it, I’ve learned that it’s actually a kannon statue, representing Kannon Bosatsu, a Buddhist goddess of mercy that is popular in Japan. The deity is called Guanyin in other parts of Asia, and has its origin in India in the 1st or 2nd century.

The amazing, nearly 300 year old cast bronze statue sits beside the Japanese Friendship Garden’s new stream in the Lower Garden, among peaceful trees that invite meditation.

Originally this Kannon Bosatsu was located at the Middlegate Japanese Garden in Pass Christian, Mississippi. When Hurricane Katrina destroyed that garden, the damaged statue was acquired by Mr. and Mrs. Gabrych, who later donated it to San Diego’s Japanese Friendship Garden in Balboa Park.

A second statue that was donated to JFG also was installed several days ago. The large guardian deity stands in the Upper Garden, opposite the bonsai collection. I’m told that less is known about the exact history of this particular sculpture. I believe it represents Kongorikishi, one of the two Nio guardians of Buddha who stand at the entrance of many Buddhist temples.

Enjoy these photos, then head over to the Japanese Friendship Garden in Balboa Park for the full experience!

Kannon Bosatsu sits tranquilly in a beautiful corner of the Japanese Friendship Garden near the source of a new stream.
Kannon Bosatsu sits tranquilly in a beautiful corner of the Japanese Friendship Garden near the source of a new stream.
Nearby sign describes Kannon Bosatsu, created in 1735 by Japanese sculptor Takumi Obata, an accomplished iron smith during to Tokugawa period. (Click photo to enlarge image.)
Nearby sign describes Kannon Bosatsu, created in 1735 by Japanese sculptor Takumi Obata, an accomplished iron smith during to Tokugawa period. (Click photo to enlarge image.)
The large bronze Kannon Bosatsu represents the Japanese goddess of mercy.
The large bronze Kannon Bosatsu represents the Japanese goddess of mercy.
A closer photo of the serene Kannon Bosatsu.
A closer photo of the serene Kannon Bosatsu.
A leaf has turned and fallen into the lap of a merciful deity
A leaf has turned and fallen into the lap of a merciful deity.
Gazing from the statue down the new stream toward a new bare wood observation platform.
Gazing from the statue down the new stream toward a new bare wood observation platform.
A simple, elegant wooden platform straddles the new stream in the Japanese Friendship Garden.
A simple, elegant wooden platform straddles the new stream in the Japanese Friendship Garden.
Nature's elements will make this structure more beautiful over time.
Nature’s elements will make this structure more beautiful over time.
Gazing down at the second half of the new stream to where it joins the Lower Garden's main river.
Gazing from the platform down at the second half of the new stream, to where it joins the Lower Garden’s main river.
The new stream is already very beautiful.
The new stream is already very beautiful.
It's now winter in the Japanese Friendship Garden, and great beauty is everywhere.
It’s now winter in the Japanese Friendship Garden, and great beauty is everywhere.
The guardian deity statue that now stands opposite the bonsai collection in the Upper Garden.
The guardian deity statue that now stands opposite the bonsai collection in the Upper Garden.
I believe this statue represents Kongorikishi, one of the guardians of Buddha who stand at the entrance of many Buddhist temples.
I believe this statue represents Kongorikishi, one of the guardians of Buddha who stand at the entrance of many Buddhist temples.
The Japanese Friendship Garden in Balboa Park is a place to find peace, wisdom and healing.
The Japanese Friendship Garden in Balboa Park is a place to find peace, wisdom and healing.
An historic addition to an already very special place.
An historic addition to an already very special place.

To see photos that I took as the stream and observation platform were under construction, 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!

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!

A favorite garden, so close to perfection.

Today I enjoyed one of my favorite places. I took a slow walk through the Japanese Friendship Garden in Balboa Park.

Beauty is cultivated and revered in this very special garden.

It’s almost like heaven–so close to perfection.

After strolling along the clear stream in the Lower Garden, I headed up out of the canyon and paused for a few moments in the Exhibit Hall. I sat on a bench, near a window overlooking the Dry Stone Garden. Several participants in an afternoon Japanese Tea Ceremony were quietly practicing.

Refinement and elegance.

Deeper meaning.

A joy for life.

So close to perfection.

This afternoon I also enjoyed a visit to Balboa Park’s lush Botanical Building. When I got home, I used my computer to convert photographs of plants and flowers into colorful oil paintings!

You’ll find those images on my other website Beautiful Balboa Park. To see those unique “oil paintings” you can click here!

Naruwan Taiko’s thundering, unabashed joy!

This afternoon I headed to the Pacific Rim Festival in Chula Vista’s Bayside Park. I’ll blog more about this fun event shortly!

The highlight of my day was an incredible performance by Naruwan Taiko!

Imagine resonant, heart-pounding, pulsing beats, and drummers swinging unstoppable arms in a synchronized dance. Imagine smiles and shouts, muscles and sweat, powered by a pure love of life. For a few moments Bayside Park was stirred by magic. Hearts were lifted by thundering, unabashed joy!

I was ready to leap over the sun!

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!

Photos of 2018 Cherry Blossom Festival!

People descend along a path into the beautiful Lower Garden during the 2018 Japanese Friendship Garden's Cherry Blossom Festival.
People descend along a path into the beautiful Lower Garden during the Japanese Friendship Garden’s 2018 Cherry Blossom Festival.

I took many photos today at the Cherry Blossom Festival in Balboa Park. After the morning drizzle subsided, I headed up to the Japanese Friendship Garden where I knew there would be lots of fun, food and breathtaking natural beauty.

Not quite as many blooms as last year–this winter has been drier than average–but still an absolutely wonderful event. Thank you JFG!

Come along with me as we visit the festival…

The 2018 Cherry Blossom Festival at the Japanese Friendship Garden in Balboa Park, as wonderful as ever.
The 2018 Cherry Blossom Festival at the Japanese Friendship Garden in Balboa Park is just as wonderful as ever.
Outside the garden, steps from the entrance is a plaque. It's a replica of one in Yokohoma, sister city of San Diego. The left half contains the theme song of the Yokohama-San Diego Friendship Committee.
Outside the garden, a short distance from the entrance is a plaque. It’s a replica of another plaque in Yokohoma, sister city of San Diego. The left half contains the theme song of the Yokohama-San Diego Friendship Committee.
Sheet music and lyrics for San Diego, The Beautiful.
Sheet music and lyrics for San Diego, The Beautiful.

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

The festival had many exhibitors in the courtyard near the JFG office.
The festival had many exhibitors in the courtyard near the JFG office.
Smiling young ladies were showing visitors how to fold bits of pink paper into cherry blossoms!
Smiling young ladies were showing visitors how to fold bits of pink paper into cherry blossoms!
A poster explains Cherry Trees at the JFG. Most in the garden are Pink Cloud cherry trees. They have recently acquired three more types--Taiwan Flowering, Okame and First Lady.
A poster explains Cherry Trees at the JFG. Most in the garden are Pink Cloud cherry trees. They have recently acquired three more types–Taiwan Flowering, Okame and First Lady.
Cherry blossoms in Japanese culture represent the transience and beauty of life.
Cherry blossoms in Japanese culture represent the transience and beauty of life.

The transience of cherry blossoms inspired a very short story, which I titled A Short Bloom. To read it, click here!

This part of the poster explains the six stages of bloom for cherry blossoms, from green bud to full, glorious bloom.
This part of the poster explains the six stages of bloom for cherry blossoms, from green bud to full, glorious bloom.
Vendors showcasing crafts and artwork at the festival included Tum Tum Arts.
Vendors showcasing crafts and gifts at the festival included Tum Tum Arts.
Some cool artwork by Jed Henry on display at one table.
Some cool Japanese artwork by Jed Henry on display at one table.
I learned a bit about making Washi Dolls from one nice lady at the festival.
I learned a bit about making Washi Dolls from one nice lady at the festival. Her mother makes these.
Japanese crafts include the making of beautiful dolls with washi paper.
Japanese crafts include the making of beautiful dolls with washi paper.
The game of go is played near the Japanese Friendship Garden's koi pond. Funny--by sheer coincidence I watched A Beautiful Mind last night. This mental game bookends the touching film.
The game of go is played near the Japanese Friendship Garden’s koi pond. Funny–by sheer coincidence I watched A Beautiful Mind last night. This mental game–more complicated than chess–begins and ends that inspiring film.
More art by the koi pond--some colorful handmade cards.
More art by the koi pond–some colorful handmade cards.
People head through the Charles C. Dail Memorial Gate to enter the Lower Garden, where many flowering cherry trees await.
People head through the Charles C. Dail Memorial Gate to enter the Lower Garden, where many flowering cherry trees await.
A master gardener at work pruning on the Sunday of the Cherry Blossom Festival.
A master gardener hard at work by the path. He’s pruning some greenery on the Sunday of the Cherry Blossom Festival.
A beautiful stream runs past many clouds of pink.
Now we are in the Lower Garden. In mid-March, the beautiful stream runs past many delicate clouds of pink.
A bit like heaven, perhaps.
A bit like heaven, perhaps.
People stand on the waterfall bridge looking toward the Inamori Pavilion.
People stand on the waterfall bridge gazing toward the Inamori Pavilion.
Walking past an ornamental Japanese lantern to the pavilion, where lots of food awaits!
Walking past an ornamental Japanese lantern to the pavilion, where I knew there would be a lot of food!
Checking out a big selection of Japanese food, including fried squid leg and shrimp tempura.
Checking out a big selection of Japanese food, including fried squid leg and shrimp tempura.
Getting ready to flip some healthy Japanese savory pancakes, or okonomiyaki.
Getting ready to flip some healthy Japanese savory pancakes, or okonomiyaki.
These guys pushing the huge drum would perform later in the day.
These friendly guys pushing the huge drum would perform later in the day.
These guys hold up a sweet fish-shaped taiyaki. Yum! I had one last year, too!
These cool ladies held up a sweet fish-shaped taiyaki. Yum! I had one last year, too!
Every year, the Cherry Blossom Festival promises lots of fun, good food and exquisite natural beauty!
Every year, the Cherry Blossom Festival promises lots of fun, good food and exquisite natural beauty!

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Exquisite flower arrangements at ikebana show.

The highlight of my walk through Balboa Park today was the San Diego Wabi Spring Flower Show. My feet often halted as I passed dozens of exquisite Japanese ikebana flower arrangements. My camera couldn’t stop snapping. As you will see, the beauty was indescribable.

This annual event, which is held for one weekend inside the Casa del Prado, provides a breathtaking exhibition of the traditional Japanese art, as taught by the Ohara School of Ikebana. In addition to the many heavenly flower arrangements, there were demonstrations by local ikebana masters for those who are interested in learning about or practicing this ancient art form.

Many of these photos are close-ups of flower arrangements. I tried my own “hand” at artistic composition.

I’m so envious of the talent displayed at this show. Every careful work of floral art was a poem for the eyes.

The San Diego Wabi Study Group Annual Flower Show, with beautiful ikebana arrangements and demonstrations, was held this weekend in the Casa del Prado in Balboa Park.
The San Diego Wabi Study Group Annual Flower Show, with beautiful ikebana arrangements and demonstrations, was held this weekend in the Casa del Prado in Balboa Park.
Many superb examples of exquisite ikebana Japanese flower arrangement pleased the eyes of delighted visitors.
Many superb examples of exquisite ikebana Japanese flower arrangement pleased the eyes of delighted visitors.

Watching a demonstration of traditional ikebana flower arrangement. Every work in this ancient art form is like a visual poem.
Young eyes observe a demonstration of traditional ikebana flower arrangement. Every work in this ancient art form is like a visual poem.

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!

Art in Bloom at Japanese Friendship Garden.

You might have noticed I personally love the Japanese Friendship Garden in Balboa Park. It’s so peaceful and beautiful. The garden always refreshes my mind and sparks my creativity. It’s one of my favorite spots to write short stories. (I hope to have a new one finished soon!)

When I learned a new cultural exhibition would open today in the garden’s handsome Inamori Pavilion, I knew at once that I had to check it out. The exhibition is called Art in Bloom – Floral Art of Japan.

The diverse pieces of artwork on display feature exquisite flower designs. By reading several signs in the exhibit, I learned about the symbolism of certain flowers in Japan. For example, I learned the camelia represents spring.

After feasting my eyes on the Art in Bloom exhibit, I walked up a winding path through the Lower Garden and carefully searched the grove of Japanese cherry trees for spring blossoms. None yet! One of the knowledgeable master gardeners informed me we have several weeks to go!

(Don’t forget to attend the certain-to-be-amazing 2018 Cherry Blossom Festival. This year it will be held on March 9 through March 11.)

Here’s a pic taken outside the Inamori Pavilion, followed by photos of a few works of the floral art inside…

Flowers at the Japanese Friendship Garden near the Inamori Pavilion, where the Art in Bloom exhibition is located.
Flowers at the Japanese Friendship Garden near the Inamori Pavilion, where the Art in Bloom exhibition is located.

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!

Photos of San Diego Bonsai Club exhibition.

Many beautiful works of bonsai art could be viewed today in the Casa del Prado in Balboa Park.
Many beautiful works of bonsai art could be viewed today in Balboa Park.

Here are more photos that you might enjoy! I took them this afternoon at the San Diego Bonsai Club exhibition, which was held inside the Casa del Prado in Balboa Park.

The art of bonsai has always fascinated me. A tiny, carefully tended tree can speak so much about life. About time and human struggle, about balance and poise.

It’s funny how artists can create a profound feeling of untamed natural beauty using orderly, controlled methods. It is absolutely contradictory. But there is much in art–as in life–that is hard to explain.

A sign outside the Casa del Prado directs visitors to an exhibition by the San Diego Bonsai Club.
A sign outside the Casa del Prado directs visitors to an exhibition by the San Diego Bonsai Club.
Demonstrations were part of the event. These friendly people were patiently working on their bonsai trees and explaining the process.
Demonstrations were part of the event. These friendly people in the Casa del Prado’s inner courtyard were patiently working on their bonsai trees and explaining the process to those who were curious.
The many tools of a bonsai gardener.
The many specialized tools of a bonsai gardener.
One member of the San Diego Bonsai Club created a cool display that contrasted her bonsai with photos of trees in local landscapes.
One member of the San Diego Bonsai Club created a cool display that contrasted her bonsai with photos of trees in local landscapes.
Like any other good art, bonsai evokes emotion. Nature inspires the bonsai artist. Styles can include Windswept, Formal Upright, Informal Upright and Forest.
Like any other good art, bonsai evokes emotion. Nature inspires the bonsai artist. Styles can include Windswept, Formal Upright, Informal Upright and Forest.
This bonsai Prostrata Juniper has been trained and pruned to appear ancient--the product of wild nature.
This bonsai Prostrata Juniper has been trained and pruned to appear ancient–the product of wild, tempestuous nature.
A tiny Japanese black pine is one object in a small room-like scene.
A tiny Japanese black pine is one object in a small room-like scene.
A fine work of art created by a lover of bonsai.
A fine work of art created by a lover of bonsai.
An ornamental porcelain berry arranged in an beautiful pot.
An ornamental porcelain berry arranged in an beautiful pot.
These tiny succulents are in a tiny wheelbarrow!
These tiny succulents are in a tiny wheelbarrow!
Visitors to the San Diego Bonsai Club exhibition in Balboa Park enjoy looking at a small, very beautiful oriental sweetgum tree.
Visitors to the San Diego Bonsai Club exhibition in Balboa Park enjoy looking at a small, very beautiful oriental sweetgum tree.

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 fun photos for you to share and enjoy!