SHIKAKU • sight, vision A virtual exhibition of proposals for public art and Japanese gardens

Traditional Rock Garden at the JCCC

SHIKAKU – sight, vision:

A virtual exhibition of proposals for public art and Japanese gardens at the Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre (JCCC) Starting March 1, 2021

A joint exhibit of the JCCC Art Committee

and the

Toronto Japanese Garden Club

Photographs, drawings and written text describing the current and future vision of JCCC public art and gardens.

An exhibition of hope and positive vision during the winter months approaching Spring 2021.


Public art and Japanese gardens enhance the history, culture and human experience of the JCCC. At present, the JCCC is not visible from Wynford Drive and is hidden from automobile and pedestrian traffic. There is potential for the JCCC to increase its visual presence and have a greater public image on Wynford Drive.

This exhibit presents ideas for using public art and Japanese gardens to increase the visibility and cultural experience of this place. While other buildings on Wynford are designed with hard edged surfaces and manicured green spaces, the JCCC is a hidden oasis - with Japanese gardens, planned water features, natural vegetation and meandering paths – it can be a contrast with the high speed traffic and concrete on Wynford Drive. The goal is for the site to act as a restful, contemplative retreat along a high-speed corridor.


Toronto City Council has declared 2021 as Toronto’s Year of Public Art.

In response, the Art Committee of the Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre (JCCC) submitted a proposal to a public art competition from the city for public art at its facility at the corner of Wynford Drive and Garamond Court, Toronto.

The proposal from the JCCC was a public art installation of a walkway and peace arch.

A public art proposal by Eiri Ota Architect, titled:

1,000 Origami Cranes – a Peace Arch.

1,000 Origami Cranes – a Walkway and Peace Arch.

The public art installation:

The plan is for a sculptural Peace Arch of 1,000 metal Origami Cranes that will span the entrance of the JCCC – a cantilevered, 3 dimensional arch off Garamond Court. In addition, a walkway of plantings and public art will serve to mark the history of the area and act as a spiritual transition for pedestrians along Garamond Court.

In Japan, the Origami Crane is the symbol for peace. The Japanese believe that if one folded 1,000 origami cranes, one's wish would come true. It has also become a symbol of hope and healing during challenging times. As a result, it has become popular to fold 1000 cranes (in Japanese, called “senbazuru”).

The concept for this public art idea comes from:

UUfie, Art and Architecture Studio, Toronto.

The intention is to produce a work of public art for the surrounding community to gain appreciation of Japanese art, culture and history and to provide the community with the opportunity to deepen their critical view of Japanese gardens, Japanese art and art in general.

This public art piece is planned to act as an inspiration for connecting with other cultural organizations in the Wynford neighbourhood including the Aga Khan Centre, the Noor Centre and Korean Cultural Centre to create more public art. It will lead to a Wynford Cultural Corridor that will showcase international art and joint art projects in the entire neighbourhood including the new Eglinton – Don Mills subway station.

Example of Public Art - Hakone Sculpture Garden

What is Public Art?

Public art can include murals, sculpture, memorials, integrated architectural or landscape architectural work, community art, digital new media, and even performances and festivals.

It can take a wide range of forms, sizes, and scales—and can be temporary or permanent. It often interprets the history of the place, its people, and cultural identity.

Public art instills meaning—a greater sense of identity and understandings of where we live, work, and visit—creating memorable experiences for visitors. It humanizes the built environment. It provides a connection between past, present, and future.

By Oceanflynn - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, "Bloom" by Michel de Brion 2015, St. Patrick's Island, Calgary, Albertahttps://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=45879814

10 Great Reasons to Support Public Art

  1. It’s public! Everyone has access to public art. It’s public and not confined to galleries or museums.
  2. It enriches our physical environments, bringing streetscapes, plazas, town buildings and schools to life.
  3. It’s a great tool for public involvement.
  4. It provides opportunities for artists.
  5. It boosts local economies. Businesses supply materials. Restaurants, hotels and transportation companies benefit from visitors.
  6. It encourages community pride.
  7. It connects citizens to their neighbors and their shared history.
  8. It enlivens places where people work, which can improve morale and respect.
  9. It opens eyes—and minds! It attracts students for both learning and fun.
  10. It raises public awareness about community issues, such as the environment and diversity.

What is a Japanese Garden?

Japanese gardens are traditional gardens whose designs are accompanied by Japanese aesthetics and philosophical ideas. Japanese garden designers to suggest a distant natural landscape, and to express the fragility of existence as well as the as the advance of time.


The idea of these unique gardens began during the Asuka period (538 to 710). Japanese merchants witnessed the gardens that were being built in China and brought many of the Chinese gardening techniques and styles back to Japan.

Japanese gardens first appeared on the island of Honshu, the large central island of Japan. Their aesthetic was influenced by the distinct characteristics of the Honshu landscape: rugged volcanic peaks, narrow valleys, mountain streams with waterfalls and cascades, lakes, and beaches of small stones. They were also influenced by the rich variety of flowers and different species of trees, particularly evergreen trees, on the islands, and by the four distinct seasons in Japan, including hot, wet summers and snowy winters.[4]

Japanese gardens have their roots in the Japanese religion of Shinto. Prehistoric Shinto shrines to the kami, the gods and spirits, are found on beaches and in forests all over the island. Prehistoric shrines often took the form of unusual rocks or trees marked with cords of rice fiber (shimenawa) and surrounded with white stones or pebbles, a symbol of purity. The white gravel courtyard became a distinctive feature of Shinto shrines, Imperial Palaces, Buddhist temples, and Zen gardens.

Katusura Imperial Villa Photo by KimonBerlin

Edo period (1615–1867)

During the Edo period, power was won and consolidated by the Tokugawa clan, who became the Shoguns, and moved the capital to Edo, which became Tokyo. During this time, Japan, except for the port of Nagasaki, was virtually closed to foreigners, and Japanese were not allowed to travel to any country except China or the Netherlands. The Emperor remained in Kyoto as a figurehead leader, with authority only over cultural and religious affairs. While the political center of Japan was now Tokyo, Kyoto remained the cultural capital, the center for religion and art. The Shoguns provided the Emperors with little power, but with generous subsidies for building gardens.

The Edo period saw the widespread use of a new kind of Japanese architecture, called Sukiya-zukuri, which means literally "building according to chosen taste". The term first appeared in the late 1500’s, referring to isolated tea houses. It originally applied to the simple country houses of samurai warriors and Buddhist monks, but in the Edo period it was used in every kind of building, from houses to palaces.

The Sukiya style was used in the most famous garden of the period, the Katsura Imperial Villa in Kyoto. The buildings were built in a simple, undecorated style, a prototype for future Japanese architecture. They opened up onto the garden, so that the garden seemed entirely part of the building. Whether the visitor was inside or outside of the building, he always had a feeling he was in the center of nature.

Most of the gardens of the Edo period were either promenade gardens or dry rock zen gardens, and they were usually much larger than earlier gardens. The promenade gardens of the period featured mountains integrated in the design of the garden using different elevations to attain views over the landscape.

Entrance - JCCC garden at night

Vision Statements on Place, Public Art and Japanese Gardens

Reflections on Japanese Gardens at the JCCC

Irene Foulkes, President, Toronto Japanese Garden Club:

The TJGC became formally involved with the JCCC gardens after a chance conversation in the Heritage Court Garden with Nao Seko in June of 2019. As the current president, I was there to prepare for the annual TJGC plant sale. Nao proposed that the Club take on stewardship of the JCCC gardens. Some of our members in years past were instrumental in the design, planting and maintenance of these very gardens.

Scott (Yonezo) Fujita, now in his eighties, had said to Nao that he could no longer, because of his age, continue to maintain the gardens on his own–something he had been doing for many years. Another, Mr. Yakura, the designer of Heritage Court garden had already passed away several years ago. There may have been others that I am not aware of who also contributed greatly. These “faceless” men quietly went about their work for years, but left their legacy. I have read “to plant a garden is to plan for the future”. Their hard work, vision and dedication is here for us to enjoy today and tomorrow. So much of Japanese culture and philosophy is embodied in the Japanese Garden–balance and harmony–if only we look.

But for us today, to continue enjoying and appreciating this visual beauty of the Japanese Gardens surrounding the JCCC, maintenance and future planning is essential. Our volunteers, recruited from TJGC members and friends, JCCC staff and a Newsletter item asking for volunteers, have spent two years working hard on keeping the plantings pruned and healthy and on continuing to enhance the surroundings with renewed gravel and structures. If neglected, the appeal of a Japanese Garden would soon be gone. The basic outlines are there! We need to focus on maintaining and improving. That will always be the work plan ahead.

At the moment, there are basically three gardens: Front Main entrance, Heritage Court and Kobayashi Court Gardens. The workload for these areas is less now because of two years work and we now can look to the following areas.

  1. One in progress is a forest glen, to be planted with ferns and moss.
  2. A second is a garden with a water feature continuing from the front entrance garden towards the Shokokai Court along the front of the building.
  3. Another I would like to see is a “Sakura Michi” or a Cherry Path. This is where I think public art would fit in. Although not as well known as the contained viewing or sitting Japanese gardens, there is also a tradition of strolling Japanese gardens. The JCCC has almost 50 Cherry trees surrounding the property and I would like to see a strolling path linking them. Perhaps the “Peace Arch” or the “Arch of Hope” with a thousand flying cranes would be at the start of the path. Because it is public art, I would guess that you would want it to have street visibility. If in the original sketch the Arch is over the driveway would it be high enough to allow the passage of tall vehicles?

Photographs of Japanese gardens as installed by the Toronto Japanese Garden Club.

Reflections on Japanese Gardens at the JCCC

Jiro Fukushima, Board Member JCCC/ Member Toronto Japanese Garden Club:

As a member of JCCC, I have learned about amazing values of JCCC, I would like to add something here. Mr. Scott Fujita designed and constructed the first Japanese gardens at the JCCC. He has been maintaining this garden for many years. He has built a foundation of the current JCCC Japanese gardens for the JCCC and our community to share and to educate with the beauty of Japanese gardens. It is similar to the way the Issei has built the original JCCC as foundation for the community and future generations.

There are 3 generations/age groups working together to support JCCC and JCCC gardens. Experienced generations provide visions and directions to younger generations. Younger generations provide physical work support or sometime new ideas to achieve common goals. It is a sort of symbiotic relationship which we are having unconsciously.

It is a fantastic principle that I and young generations have been learning and experiencing at the JCCC from people we have volunteering including Nao, Jim, Irene and many others. I believe that our JCCC and Japanese gardens have not only a beautiful outside appearance but there are deep meanings and sophisticated important principles inside.

When I design and construct Japanese gardens for my clients, I consider to design and construct with modestly, simplicity, and humbleness, yet balanced with energetic thoughts and philosophies.

These may create interesting contrast with public arts you are working on which are expressing or appealing their existence, meanings and emotions.

Lastly, there are thing has been brought up and requested from many JCCC senior members and JCCC supporters regarding the question of roofing/glass roof from beginning of front main walkway to the automatic doors, especially during rainy or snow days.

Perhaps adding the peace origami cranes over the clear glass roofing structures to have continuity with crane arch to bring peace into JCCC.

The main purpose of a Japanese garden is to bring harmony between our busy daily lives and nature. It is a space that celebrates the natural landscape together with human beings creativity. A great garden may have a calming effect or could be an exhilarating experience.

Views of garden areas at the JCCC currently in place

Day and night views of JCCC gardens

Photos of the JCCC courtesy of: John Ota, Jim Abe, Cary Rothbart, Jiro Fukushima, Japanese Garden Club

Created By
Katherine Yamashita


Created with images by Alexas_Fotos - "japanese maple tree nature" • entrecon - "zen garden sand"