Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Monday, December 3, 2012

Visit to Hiroshima Peace Memorial

Every summer since 2006 at Willowbrook Arts Camp I teach the campers to fold 1,000 paper cranes as prayers for world peace.  Since we have hundreds of campers every day, it has never been that big of a challenge to finish folding 1,000 paper cranes, but it's a good opportunity for me to promote peace, which is one of our missions of Willowbrook.  In the past I have had some of the campers or staff members deliver the cranes to Hiroshima Peace Memorial, but this year I was able to travel to Hiroshima to do that myself for the first time.  

In case you are not familiar about the story of 1,000 paper cranes, I'll tell you now in short.  There was a Japanese girl called Sadako who got exposed to the Hiroshima atomic bomb at the age of two and developed leukemia ten years later.  After hearing of a Japanese legend that promises anyone who folds a thousand paper cranes will be granted a wish, Sadako started folding paper cranes at the hospital so she could have a wish to survive.  She eventually died, but her classmates built a monument for her and other Hiroshima children who died from the atomic bomb.  This story inspired people from all over the world, including us at Willowbrook, to contribute 1,000 in prayers for world peace.

There I was, at Children's Peace Monument in Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park.  There are glass stalls behind Sadako's monument where people hung paper cranes.

Our paper cranes are made of magazine paper.
Not as bright as some others but recycled material.

Here are some of other paper cranes that I saw in the stalls at the park.

"Praying that there will be a peaceful world
without wars or nuclear weapons"
By a grade school in Osaka.

After visiting the Children's Peace Monument, I toured the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum.  It's hard to visit there without being emotional, but it is a must see.  There, I saw some of the actual paper cranes that Sadako folded.

Some are very tiny, and she used a needle to fold.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Origami in Everyday Lives of Japan

Wherever I went out and about in Japan, I noticed that origami was folded into people's everyday lives, literally.  And whenever I found origami decorations in public, I took photos.  Here are some of the photos I took.

At Narita Station
Welcome to Japan poster made with origami

At a hotspring resort.
Halloween decorations that guests participated to make.

At a bookstore.
Featured books were decorated with origami.

In front of a flower shop.
A sign for tulip bulbs makes you want to buy them.

On a street.
I found a ninja star someone had left behind.

In a display case at Hiroshima Castle.
Origami samurai hats were made by children in Hiroshima.

A poster in front of a souvenir shop in Hiroshima.
Hello Kitty riding a paper crane, cuuuute!

Last but not least, at a fruit stand.
It's a tangerine orange stand that my parents have.
Of course I'm the one who made the decorations.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Origami Kaikan

Recently I had a trip to my home country, Japan.  Aside from visiting my family and friends, my mission was to get inspirations for my origami work, as well as to stack up on paper materials.

My first stop, Origami Kaikan in Ochanomizu, Tokyo was just the right place for what I was looking to do.  Absolutely the lovely place it was.  I wish I lived closer!  I will definitely go back and visit there again.

Store front of Origami Kaikan
Since its first establishment in 1858 as a Japanese paper (washi) dyeing factory, Origami Kaikan has developed into a mecca for origami crafters.  The facility houses everything from origami exhibit space to paper shop, classrooms and washi dyeing factory.  Displayed artworks have emphasis on renzuru (multiple paper cranes made out of one sheet of paper) and flowers.  Some of them are renzuru made to look like flowers.

Christmas tree display at their store front

Garlands of paper cranes made to look like wisteria

Renzuru in a shadow box frame

They offer a wide variety of origami classes, though I didn't have time to take one at this time.  Maybe next time.  The photos below are samples from the classes that they offer.

2013 animal zodiac (snake) workshop
Washi bonsai workshop
Christmas tree workshop
As for the origami shop, they have the largest selection of origami paper I have ever seen!  They had a wide variety of not only origami packs, but also single sheets of chiyogami and washi in different sizes, tools, kits, and origami instruction books.  I wish I had more specific origami projects that I am working on; this place would have everything that I would need.

This is just one section of the store where they have large paper
They sell many complete kits such as this chrysanthemum making kit
I visited another floor of Origami Kaikan where they dye paper and visitors can watch it.  Not only I got to see the paper being dyed, I got to meet the chairman of Origami Kaikan and a renown origami artist, Mr. Kazuo Kobayashi.  I regret that I didn't take a photo of him, though.

Brushes used to dye paper
Huge stack of washi
Origami Kaikan's website can be found here.  Most of it is in Japanese, but you can read the general info in English from here.  All the photos are taken and uploaded to my blog with a permission from Origami Kaikan.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

BirdFest by Friends of Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge

I'm participating in an event called BirdFest this weekend, on October 13th & 14th.  The event is by Friends of Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge.  The event site is in Ridgefield, WA, which is about 45 minutes drive from Portland.  There will be all kinds of birds-featured entertainment and activities throughout the event, including live music, guided canoe/kayak tours and walks, arts and crafts sales, and more!  I think anyone who loves birds will enjoy this event.

I will be in the Community Center as one of their marketplace vendors, teaching, demonstrating and displaying origami birds.  I will have some of my framed art pieces and greeting cards for sale as well.  I know that the rain is finally on the way this weekend, but I hope to have a good turnout!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Happy End of Summer

My summer was consist of:

Salmon fishing in Astoria

Star gazing party at a farm

Pink Martini concert at the zoo

Home grown veggies

Lots of small day trips, picnics and walks

I love summer the best of all seasons, and this summer was no exception.
I've been enjoying the Indian summer so much that I really don't want it to end! 

Monday, July 16, 2012

Tanabata Recap

Tanabata, which is translated as the Japanese Star Festival, is one of my favorite holiday celebrations.  It derives from a romantic legend about two lovers in the sky, who are allowed to meet only once a year.

For the past six years I have celebrated Tanabata with the children of Willowbrook, where I work every summer.  We always have the campers write wishes and make origami ornaments to hung on bamboo for Tanabata.  One year we even did a skit about the legend of Tanabata.

Here are some wishes that our campers made this year.

"Be good at math" (left), "Beautiful planet" (right)
"Good health" (left), "I want a dog" (center),
"Peace at home (right)
Here is my Tanabata wish this summer...
"I wish the event at Japanese Garden will go well"

It seemed that my wish had come true.  The event was full of people and fun.  I received some positive feedback.

my demo table
lotus flowers, lily pads and frog that I folded and displayed.  

People seemed to be more interested in the lights that I put inside of the lotus flowers than anything that I folded.  They may be hard to notice in the photo above, but they are glowing LED lights that are battery operated, called Fairy Berries, available on
lotus flowers with fairy berries look like these in dark.

During my break, I enjoyed kami-shibai by Michiko Kornhauser.  Kami-shibai, which literally means "paper-theater" is a Japanese tradition of illustrated storytelling.  The illustrations for this kami-shibai, drawn in chalk pastels by George Katagiri were very beautiful.

The guitar music by Toshi Onizuka was also very beautiful.   Thanks to his music I was able to stay calm and in good mood during the event.  I will definitely need to purchase his CDs.

I got to browse around the garden for a little while, before and after the event.

Traditional kusudama in display, not made by me.
I wore a vintage floral skirt I found at Lodekka.
Some of the flowers on the skirt are star shaped,
Isn't it appropriate?

koi in the pond
iris flowers were still blooming
I would like to express my gratitude towards all the staff, volunteers and visitors at the event in the Japanese Garden, as well my helper (aka my significant other).  It was a wonderful event thanks to all of you!