Still Time For A Zen Experience In Downtown LA

Wednesday, May 16, 2012
The zen garden hosts the Mare Nubium dance performance. (Hirokazu Kosaka)

The zen garden hosts the Mare Nubium dance performance. (Hirokazu Kosaka)

The Japanese American Cultural & Community Center’s first annual spring festival, LA Bloom wrapped up on May 5, but late visitors to the Little Tokyo site in Downtown LA can still enjoy a piece of the festivities. LA Bloom’s centerpiece ecoartspace installation will remain up for a few extra weeks. Using over five million pebbles, JACCC Artistic Director Hirokazu Kosaka and landscape architect Calvin Abe of AHBE created a large zen garden that, during the festival (along with thousands of feet of colorful thread) created a serene background for Kosaka’s evocative Mare Nubium performances.

“It isn’t something that can be experienced through description. It would be like explaining what it’s like to be present watching the original moon landing,” said Abe, for whom the space created a “profound existential experience.”

Zen Garden by day. (Carren Jao)

Zen Garden by day. (Carren Jao)

Even without performances inside, visitors to the space will find themselves in a moment of contemplation. When faced with an incongruous paring of 27 tons of swirling gravel and a rainbow of thread, one immediately goes into a wondering mood. The accompanying Japanese flower arrangements at the Irvine Japanese Garden also serve to emphasize this question bubbling up from the installation.

Underlying the ecoartspace was a philosophical process that borrowed from the Cherry Blossom Festival that inspired it. “The Japanese feel a deep communion and connection to the cherry blossom during the flower viewing months. When the petals fall from the trees, the Japanese see this as the transience of most things in life,” said Kosaka. Like everything else about the festival, the ecoartspace will soon be a thing of memory, so go see it while it lasts.

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