Posts Tagged With: Japanese tools

Where do I find…..

The right tool makes any job easier. Finding the right tool can be something of a pilgrimage.

We are fortunate in Hilo to have Garden Exchange close at hand for bamboo splitters, hand forged pruners, and properly balanced hedge shears.

For those seeking carpentry tools as well as garden supplies, sewing kits, and bonsai equipment there are several wonderful places we visited on the mainland.

Friends in Phoenix, Arizona tipped us to Anzen Hardware in Los Angeles.

Anzen Hardware

My husband’s father ran a hardware store in Texas. Anzen Hardware was a treat to visit.

Located on East First Street near the Japanese Village Plaza Mall, Anzen Hardware is full to the rafters with wonderful goods. Chefs seek this store out for its fine selection of quality knives. Sake makers come here for their supplies. There are bamboo brooms and gravel rakes for the gardener.

Fans call it an old fashioned hardware store for the handyman. Best of all is owner Nori Takitani who started as a high school part time worker in 1954. One of the elders of the community, he can be counted on for good service and advice.

My favorite purchase from this store (so far) were the vegetable seed packets along with good advice from Nori to put them in the refrigerator first “to wake them up” before planting.

Another seed source was the gift shop at the Japanese American National Museum a few blocks down the street. Kitazawa Seed packets and a well stocked bookcase were favorite attractions in the JANM store.

Contact the museum at: http://www.janm.org/

Or find Kitazawa Seed at: http://www.kitazawaseed.com/

To the north is Hida Tool on San Pablo Avenue in Berkeley.

Hida Tool

Bill waits for the doors to open early one morning.

Like Anzen, Hida Tool has crowded shelves, knowledgeable staff, and museum pieces on the wall. In addition to the store, Hida Tool has gone high tech with a web site.

http://www.hidatool.com/

As mentioned on their site, “Hida Tool was started in response to requests from San Francisco Bay Area woodworkers to get tools like those being used by Makoto Imai, who had come from Japan in 1978 after his 5-year apprenticeship in carpentry plus 9 years as a teahouse and temple builder. His were the hand tools of the builders of traditional homes and temples in Japan, including saws with both crosscut and rip teeth on the same blade, planes with wooden bodies quite different from those of European and early American wooden planes, and both plane blades and chisels forged by methods developed by the blacksmiths who created the famous samurai swords. These tools had a layer of very hard steel forged to a larger mass of softer iron, which allowed the formation in the tempering step of a harder cutting edge than was permissible in tools made entirely of similar carbon steel.

“The business was opened in San Rafel, California (north of the Golden Gate) in 1982 by Imai-san’s brother-in-law Osamu Hiroyama and Kip Mesirow, author of “Care and Use of Japanese Woodworking Tools” and former owner of a smaller Japanese tool store in Berkeley. Hida Tool Co. moved to our current location in Berkeley in the summer of 1984 with a greater variety of carpentry tools. Because of the interest in tools used for Japanese gardens, these became the second category of tools stocked. Kitchen knives, the third “specialty of the house,” also make use of the swordmakers’ technique of combining two different metals. A smaller number of other tools, etc., all imported from Japan, can be found on this website and in the store.
“Whether you enter through the front door, your computer email, or telephone, our staff at Hida Tool Co. will do our best to help you find the exact tool that you need within these specialties. However, still true to our origins, we carry no power tools, although we do stock a large assortment of drill bits for your hand or power drill.”
I purchased tools for fence building and knot tying plus exquisitely balanced hedge shears, camellia oil in a spray bottle, small sewing scissors, and handkerchiefs for fellow workers. All was shipped to me by the store and arrived in good order.

Wandering down the street from our hotel in San Francisco, we came upon Soko Hardware on Post Street. Another family-style hardware store carrying excellent culinary knives, garden supplies, woodworking tools, plus kitchen equipment, fine dishes, paper lanterns, and seeds among many other items.

Owned and operated by the Ashizawa family since 1925, Soko Hardware is now under the guidance of the third generation, Roy Ashizawa.

http://sfjapantown.org/soko-hardware/

A Yahoo reviewer noted of Soko Hardware: “The ceramics section holds a dizzying array of vases in aesthetic organic shapes, plates in all sizes and shapes, and platters suitable for a tea ceremony. Traditional finishes, such as oxblood and crackle glaze are the order of the day and the quality of everything is good whatever the price tag.”

Garden and museum gift shops are another source.

Heritage seeds from the time of Thomas Jefferson can be found in the gift shop at Monticello.

Monticello gift shop

“…there is not a sprig of grass that shoots uninteresting to me…” Thomas Jefferson said in a 1790 letter to his daughter.

Bamboo fabric gloves were a favorite purchase from the Chicago Botanic Garden gift shop.

gift shop at Chicago Botanic Garden

Chicago Botanic Garden gift shop in the Visitor Center
(photo by Bill F. Eger)

An annual sale of bulbs got my attention in Denver.

An annual sale of bulbs got my attention in Denver.

Organic products of all kinds, including seeds, were available at Weatherford Gardens just outside of Fort Worth, Texas.

http://www.weatherfordgardens.com/

photo-025

a sampling of products carried in the store (photo by Bill F. Eger)

a sampling of products carried in the store
(photo by Bill F. Eger)

a small section of the seed shelves where I did my shopping (photo by Bill Eger)

a small section of the seed shelves where I did my shopping
(photo by Bill Eger)

Where do you go to find that special thing for your garden? Comments are welcome.

Be nice! All photographs appearing in this blog are the property of K.T. Cannon-Eger or Bill F. Eger. All the photography on this blog is protected by U.S. Copyright Laws, and are not to be manipulated, downloaded or reproduced any way and may not be used in commercial or political materials, advertisements, emails, products, promotions without written permission. Copyright 2013 K.T. Cannon-Eger All Rights Reserved.

Categories: California, Fort Worth, Glencoe, Illinois, Texas, Virginia | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

Chicago Botanic Garden in Glencoe: where East meets Midwest

“The Japanese have taken their love of growing things and their realization of man’s union with nature and refined them in the beauty of their gardens. The purpose of a Japanese garden is to present natural forms and to create a tranquil beauty that leads the visitor from everyday life to a calm, serene, reflective communion with nature.”

Koichi Kawana

color and texture

shades of green and varieties of texture
(photo by Bill F.Eger)

Sansho-en at Chicago Botanic Garden is a 17.3 acre promenade style garden or kaiyu-shiki, a garden style developed during the 17th century. Sansho-en means “The Garden of the Three Islands” – Keiunto, Seifuto and Horajima – visible in a diagram of the garden. The experience in a stroll garden is to see the garden while walking. Different views appear on the journey along a winding path.

map of three islands

map of the three islands of Sansho-en courtesy of Chicago Botanic Garden

“A walk through Sansho-en reveals a collection of smaller gardens and classic elements from several historical Japanese garden styles,” said one garden brochure. “In Sansho-en you can experience contemplative dry gardens, an intimate moss garden, cool woodland gardens and a distant paradise garden, all in one visit.”

karesansui

contemplative karesansui (dry landscape)
(photo by Bill F. Eger)

intimate moss garden

intimate moss garden by the Shoin House
(photo by Bill F. Eger)

a cool woodland

a cool woodland with azalea hillside
(photo by Bill F. Eger)

a distant paradise island

distant paradise island seen from the entry bridge
(photo by Bill F. Eger)

Dr. Koichi Kawana (1930-1990) designed more than a dozen major Japanese gardens in the United States, including Seiwa-en at the Missouri Botanical Garden and Shofu-en at the Denver Botanic Gardens. In addition, he was a professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, where he lectured on Japanese art, landscape design and architecture. Dedicated in 1982, Sansho-en celebrated its 30th birthday the day we visited in June.

Elizabeth Hubert Malott Japanese Garden dedication plaque

dedication plaque for Elizabeth Hubert Malott Japanese Garden reads: “Her childhood years in the Orient fostered a lifelong respect for and love of Japanese culture and landscape.”
(dedication 2006; this image 2011)

Sansho-en also is called the Elizabeth Hubert Malott Japanese Garden. An endowment was created for the Elizabeth Hubert Malott Japanese Garden through a gift from the Malott Family Foundation in 2006, when the garden was re-dedicated. Income from the endowment will provide funds to maintain the Japanese Garden and provide programs that teach visitors about Japanese culture and history.

Mary Plunkett travels by cart.

Mary Plunkett travels by maintenance cart between gardens on a busy day.
(photo by Bill F. Eger)

Mary Plunkett is manager of Interpretive Programs at Chicago Botanic Garden and oversees seven gardens. There are nearly 200 interpretive volunteer positions throughout Chicago Botanic, 20 in the Japanese garden.

Plunkett came to Chicago Botanic Garden 11 years ago with a background in volunteer management. “Nobody comes here to give poor information. Everyone comes with a good heart and desire to be helpful to our curious visitors, so my job is to encourage and inform them,” Plunkett said. “A volunteer generally is here two times a month. If you want a good volunteer program you have to have staff to support them. We are so lucky to have that support.”

“Our volunteers are here Wednesday through Sunday through the first weekend in October. We track nearly 35,000 visitor encounters during a season,” Plunkett said.

display of carpentry tools and karesansui rake

tools display: carpentry tools on the board and karesansui rake leaning against the board at a NAJGA regional meeting in 2011

Volunteers have an extensive document of information, history, tool identification and frequently asked questions for training and reference. A board to which various tools are attached aids in explaining their uses.

tool board detail

detail of tool board

tool board detail

descriptive text for the sumitsubo (ink pot)

“Volunteers can be a driving force in the garden,” said senior horticulturist Benjamin Carroll. “They have such enthusiasm. It’s really important for us to recognize their work and express gratitude regularly.”

Edie Rowell at Shoin House

Edie Rowell prepares to open Shoin House
(photo by Bill F. Eger)

Edie Rowell is in her fifth season as a garden volunteer. She spends one day a week in the Malott Japanese Garden and one day “digging in the fruit and vegetable garden.”

“Visitors do not go inside the Shoin House. We speak to them from the engawa, explain the construction, tools, type of garden and so forth,” Rowell said. “This is not a tea house. Tea houses are usually smaller – four and a half to six tatami size. This is a 23 tatami house. Shoin rooms started out as the study of Buddhist monks. The style morphed into the Camp David of its day – a man cave for a very high ranking man, a retreat house for a daimyo where one’s equilibrium could be restored.”

volunteer on the engawa of Shoin House

a volunteer encounter with visitors to Shoin House
(photo by Bill F. Eger)

Benjamin Carroll in the tool shed

Benjamin Carroll demonstrates placement of a peg to which twine is attached to shape trees.
(photo by Bill F. Eger)

The senior horticulturist at Chicago Botanic Garden, Benjamin Carroll obtained his B.S. in horticulture, Writtle College in Essex, England. Carroll was employed for two years at Cambridge University Botanic Garden before joining the Chicago Botanic Garden staff. He is a director-at-large for the North American Japanese Garden Association (NAJGA).

gift shop at Chicago Botanic Garden

Chicago Botanic Garden gift shop in the Visitor Center
(photo by Bill F. Eger)

Chicago Botanic Garden’s facilities are truly delightful. The Visitor Center adjacent to the parking area offers an extensive and well stocked gift shop on the right, an abundant café on the left, an information desk and “Ask A Master Gardener” service. Educational classes, children’s programs, seasonal displays, and membership benefits are a few of the many offerings.

Chicago Botanic Garden offers 25 gardens on 385 acres. Roughly 60 acres are covered by water. There is no admission charge for Chicago Botanic Garden. There is a fee for parking. To plan your visit, check out the web site for hours, directions, parking fee, transportation, what’s in bloom, etc.

http://www.chicagobotanic.org/visit/

To see a 7 ½ minute video in Malott Garden uploaded by Benjamin Carroll to You Tube in 2009, visit:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sQtay6II840

one example of the bonsai collection

Near the Regenstein Center, a bonsai collection is displayed in outdoor courtyards.

bonsai courtyard on a sunny day

CBG cafe

in the cafeteria, a sign in a table arrangement of potted herbs reminds one of various ways to contribute to the Chicago Botanic Garden

For other planting tips from Benjamin Carroll, check out the following short stories:

Benjamin Carroll planting bulbs

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5_6g7BtY06I

WGN-TV interview on houseplants during the winter

http://www.wgntv.com/videogallery/66815502/News/Benjamin-Carroll-from-the-Chicago-Botanic-Garden-answers-your-questions

Hope for healing the planet

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hcUoX5kAcbU

Photos not otherwise credited are by K.T. Cannon-Eger. Click on any photo to see a full size image.

bridge with seasonal floral display

the entry bridge between the Visitor Center and the Crescent Garden in fall

bridge with seasonal floral display

the bridge between the Visitor Center and the Crescent Garden bedecked with summer blooms

Categories: Glencoe, Illinois | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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