Peace garden honors late professor PDF Print E-mail
Written by BILL RYAN Sentinel Garden Editor   
Thursday, 18 July 2013 09:50
J.J. Kawashima is seen at the gate of the Fuji Kawashima tea garden July 16, 2013 at Simpson Park in Bowling Green, Ohio. The garden is named after her late husband. (Photos: Enoch Wu/Sentinel-Tribune)
An “authentic” Japanese tea garden is now located in Bowling Green.
The Kawashima Peace Garden will be dedicated at 11 a.m. Saturday at Simpson Garden Park, located at the corner of Conneaut Avenue and Wintergarden Road.
This garden honors Dr. Fujiya “Fuji” Kawashima, a widely-respected professor of Asian history at Bowling Green State University, who passed away in 2006.
Dr. Michelle Grigore, director of Bowling Green Parks and Recreation Department, is very excited about the latest garden area at the facility.
“It’s going to be a very special garden. It is a very accurate depiction of a true Japanese tea garden,” Grigore said. “It will provide a taste of the Far East, here in the midwest.”
Kawashima, a Japanese native, came to Bowling Green in 1970 to teach and was instrumental in the establishment of the university’s Asian History program and was working to develop a Peace Studies Program at the university at the time of his death.
“And so it is significant that this beautiful Japanese tea garden is dedicated in the memory of Fuji Kawashima — a man of peace who worked to build a bridge from the Far East to the Midwestern United States,” Grigore says. “We have tried to make this as authentic as possible.”
J.J. Kawashima, his widow, has spearheaded the effort to establish this garden.
She noted how her husband had helped establish a working business relationship between Japanese business officials in Hiroshima with a Bowling Green operation. He organized regular trips for students to visit his native country.
“He tried to be a bridge between countries and the people. He always wanted to bring Asia to the students at BGSU,” Mrs. Kawashima said.
Although she is extremely pleased with the garden, she notes it will only grow in beauty in subsequent years as the plants and trees mature. As funds allow, the garden could also be expanded from its current size.
Mrs. Kawashima, a native of Korea, said the idea for the garden was first suggested by Steve McEwen of Henry Filters, with whom her husband had worked closely.
McEwen and others wanted to show how “they missed him as I do,” she said.
“They showed their friendship and I am so grateful that,” she added. “The idea of a peace garden seemed right because he was teaching about peace.”
She added, “He loved Japanese gardens and if he sees this, he will be so excited. We want this to be a very quiet, serene and meditative place.”
The Fuji Kawashima tea garden at Simpson Park in Bowling Green, Ohio is seen on July 16, 2013.
The garden is designed throughout to accurately replicate a Japanese tea garden, albeit on a smaller scale. It begins as one enters through a threshold (gate) and entices the visitors to enter into a more spiritual world, leaving the cares of their life behind. The gateway includes bamboo pieces on the doors.
At the entrance a plaque will welcome visitors reflecting the purpose inviting the visitors to “Waft with its Waters, Remain with its Rocks, Flow through its Flowers, Species upon species, spaced to grow, to bloom, to seed together, Divine with the dignity of their mutual respect, Affirming life, like Fujiya Kawashima.”
A weeping bald cypress tree welcomes the guests near the entrance. Other notable plants include a Japanese black pine, a Yoshino cherry tree which is very similar to the cherry trees in our nation’s capital, a leather leaf Japanese maple tree, wisteria and a bloodgood Japanese maple.
Stone Japanese lanterns will be placed under some of the trees.
In addition to the cut bamboo on the gate, bamboo shoots will be planted outside the back fence and grow there.
The exit gate connects visitors with the “Serenity Garden” area at Simpson Park, where there is a waterfall and pond.
Mrs. Kawashima says the path is purposely designed to allow visitors to meander and slowly enjoy the visit.
The garden includes a tsukubai or washbasin for ceremonial cleansing. The lanterns serve to guide the way and the machiai or waiting area is where guests prepare for sado, the tea ceremony.
In a tea garden the focus is on the natural world including boulders which depict the mountains, pebbles which represent streams or lakes and flat rocks representing islands in the sea of pebbles.
All those elements and other traditional items are all represented in the Simpson Park’s tea garden.
“This is a contemplation garden to explore mentally while seated in the machiai,” Grigore says.
The machiai is the area where a covered bench is located. It serves as a peaceful place for visitors to relax in preparation for the tea ceremony.
“This garden would not have happened without J.J. being involved,” Grigore said. “She was the driving force behind building the garden.”
The director noted how she raised the funds through the Kawashima family and friends including concerts at Kobacher Hall by Kawashima’s daughter, Kimi. The entire Kawashimi family is expected to be on hand for dedication including their son, Ken Kawashima from Toronto, Kimi Kawashima and her sons, Luc and Derek Hardink from Salt Lake City.
For the dedication ceremony on Saturday The Kazenodaichi Taiko Team from BGSU will provide Japanese drumming.
The public is invited to attend the dedication and to regularly enjoy the garden.
Last Updated on Thursday, 18 July 2013 11:11

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