Thank You for a Successful Garden Party

guests enjoying the Garden Party
guests enjoying the Garden Party

Gary Stroutsos plays the bamboo flute while guests enjoy an outdoor tea ceremony nearby at the 2015 Garden Party, July 24. All photographs in this post by Aurora Santiago.

Despite the day starting with a steady drizzle, blue skies and more than 220 guests cheerfully appeared for the 2015 Garden Party on Friday, July 24.

The soothing sound of bamboo flute, played by artist Gary Stroutsos, greeted the guests who arrived early in the courtyard.  At 6pm, the gates opened ceremoniously, and exquisitely kimono-clad tea instructors stood on the path to gently guide visitors to the nodate outdoor tea ceremony --which turned out to be one of the most popular events of the evening-- in the rhododendron glen.

As the guest progressed further into the garden, they found lyrical haiku along the paths to peruse and enjoy.

Flute music continued to float throughout the garden until 6:30 p.m., when Japanese Garden Advisory Council President Steve Alley officially greeted the guests.  His greetings were followed by remarks from newly appointed Seattle Parks and Recreation Superintendent, Jesús Aguirre, who expressed his thanks to the many partners and volunteers who, along with staff, make the Japanese Garden available for all citizens to cherish.

Mr. Masahiro Omura, Consul General of Japan, then led the group in a kanpai toast, after remarking on the 55 years of cultural exchange and friendship between the citizens of Seattle and Japan that the Japanese Garden represents.

The foodies amongst the guests were delighted by the wide variety of authentic Japanese foods offered at the elegant buffet table.  In addition to sushi, there was a colorful Japanese-style calamari salad, vegetable nimono cooked to perfect tenderness, juicy chicken karaage, delicate somen noodles, and much more.

Sake lovers were treated to tastings of sake even most citizens in Japan have never heard of or have tasted.  Three brewers, some of them carrying on the family tradition for the 12th generation, flew in from Japan to offer samplings of their master craft.

Not to be outdone, the beer purveyors brought in Asahi draft beer imported directly from Japan.  JM Cellars, a Woodinville based craft winery, provided a sophisticated house blend of red, as well as an incredibly popular white, a Vigonier, for our guests to savor.

The evening entertainment complemented the natural beauty of the garden.  Chris Kenji Beer played koto compositions on keyboard, and Fujima Fujimine Dance Ensemble put on a traditional dance accompanied by shamisen players.

Guests commented on the elegance of the experience as they departed, picking up a gift bag along the way.

Thanks to the generosity of our guests and sponsors, as well as the hard work of volunteers, staff and performers, the Garden Party raised nearly $15,000 this year.  Proceeds will benefit the vital events and programs at Seattle Japanese Garden.

(Click on the images to see them in full size)

Rumi Tsuchihashi is the Stewardship and Events Coordinator at Seattle Japanese Garden, and the blog editor.