Lecture Series

For almost half a century, the Portland Japanese Garden has served as a resource for members of this community who want to learn more about Japanese art, culture, history, and horticulture. Lectures at the Garden cover a broad range of subjects.

I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in tune once more. 
- John Burroughs, American naturalist (1837-1921)

Kokoro: Mind, Heart, & Spirit in the
Traditional Arts and Culture of Japan

Lecture by
Kimiko Gunji, Associate Professor Emeritus, University of Illinois
Saturday, March 8, 2014
Pavilion Gallery
$10 members / $15 non-members

“My main consideration as an artist is to impart my kokoro through the different media with which I express my ideas and teachings. As technology continually advances, human beings are so enraptured by its power and capability; however, through this captivation, they often succumb to surrendering the very element that makes them human—the use of their five senses. My concentration is to impart to those with whom I encounter, through my teachings and my art, the significance of becoming a fine human being through the vitalization of the senses and the natural manifestation of one’s kokoro.”

For more than three decades, Kimiko Gunji taught students of the University of Illinois the principles and concepts that inform the traditional arts of Japan. In this lecture and presentation, Kimiko Gunji will introduce the concept of kokoro and demonstrate how it is manifest in traditional art forms such as the tea ceremony.

She will perform a tea ceremony and provide an explanation of its historical background and its relation to Zen philosophy and the idea of kokoro. She will also discuss ways in which this centuries old art has influenced the development of the Japanese tea garden, or roji, and offer insights into the way in which the traditional art forms have influenced contemporary Japan’s industry as well as the daily life of the Japanese people.

Kimiko Gunji is Professor Emeritus of Japanese Arts & Culture in the School of Art & Design, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She taught at the University of Illinois since 1979. The courses she taught included the Way of Tea and Zen Aesthetics, the Art of Japanese Flower Arrangement, and the Campus Honors Program Seminar: Rigidity and Flexibility in Japanese Arts and Culture.

She was Director of Japan House from 1998-2011. She is a Full Professor of the Ikenobo Ikebana (Japanese Flower Arranging) School in Japan and Chapter President of the Illinois Prairie Ikenobo Ikebana. Her Ikenobo Ikebana teacher’s name is Kiyomi (清美). She also holds the tea name, or Chamei, Souki (宗紀) from the Urasenke Tea School and serves as President of the Urbana-Champaign Association of Chado Urasenke Tankokai, Inc. as well as a teaching certificate of Japanese classical dance.

Kimiko Gunji received numerous awards for her teachings as well as her contributions to promote Japanese arts and culture. Among them were University of Illinois Campus Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching, Illinois Arts Council Fellowship in the Field of Ethnic and Folk Arts, the commendation from the Foreign Ministry in Japan for her contribution to promote and strengthen the ties of friendship and goodwill between the United States and Japan. The most distinguished award she received was the Order of the Rising Sun from the Japanese Government which was bestowed by the Emperor on June 6, 2012.

Past Garden Lectures

Peter Grilli
The Silence of the Sengu
Saturday, January 11, 2014

Dr. Shinya Maezaki
A Distant View: The Porcelain Sculpture of Sueharu Fukami
Saturday, October 5, 2013

Marc Treib
Isamu Noguchi, The Sculpting of Space
Thursday, May 16, 2013

David Cobb
Photographing Japanese Gardens
Friday, April 12, 2013

Dr. Yoshiaki Shimizu
Ito Jakuchu, From Green Grocer to Master Painter
Thursday, January 31, 2013

Mike Houck
Wild in the City: Exploring the Intertwine
Thursday, October 25, 2012

Andy Karr
Contemplative Photography,
Lecture: Thursday, Sept 13, 2012
Workshop: Friday, Sept 14, 2012

Teresia Hazen
Health Benefits of Gardens
Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Anna Tamura
Gardens Below the Watchtower
Thursday, March 22, 2012

Andy Couturier
A Different Kind of Luxury, Japanese Lessons in Simple Living and Inner Abundance
Thursday, October 27, 2011

Vince Healy
Healing Nature, Sensory Engagement and “Sense of Place”
Thursday, June 30, 2011

Author Azby Brown
Just Enough: Lessons in Living Green from Traditional Japan
Friday, January 28, 2011

Botond Bognar
Beyond the Bubble, Current Trends in Japanese Architecture
Thursday, October 21, 2010

Hoichi Kurisu
The Japanese Garden in the 21st Century, An Evolving Art of Healing
Thursday, July 22, 2010

Talon Buchholz
The Wonderful World of Japanese Maples
April, 2010

Ron Herman
In Search of an Unknown Garden
Thursday, March 18, 2010

Sean Hogan
Japanese and Asian Plants
Thursday, January 28, 2010