"One of my favorite places in Kyoto is the bamboo forest in Arashiyama. The bamboo stalks are formidable in size: as large as an arm, nothing like
the skinny stalks that grow in gardens in the Pacific Northwest. A wide path cuts through the forest and leads wanderers to Buddhist temples, Shinto
shrines, moss gardens, and tea houses. The slightest breeze causes the bamboo to make their unique sound, a sound that fills your heart with an
unnameable ancient feeling akin to yearning and finding all at once—-or as the poet Ou-yang Hsiu so aptly described, 'Myriad leaves give a thousand
sounds—-all are lamentations'."
From Heaven and Earth are Flowers: Reflections on Ikebana and Buddhism
|Image from Heaven and Earth are Flowers
|Ikebana photo by Derk Jager. All images and text are copyright protected - © 2010.
| I wrote Heaven and Earth are Flowers to highlight the spiritual dimension of working with and appreciating
plants and flowers, and to inspire the reader to look at nature with a renewed sense of poetic wonder.
- Joan D. Stamm
In the early '90s when Joan lived in Japan, she became keenly interested in Buddhism and
traditional Japanese arts, particularly ikebana. Upon her return to the States, she studied
and practiced Zen and Tibetan Buddhism, and began ikebana instruction under the
direction of Mary Hiroko Shigaya. After twelve years of study, Joan received Shihan
(formal authorization to teach) from the Saga School of Ikebana headquartered in Kyoto,
Japan. These experiences led to articles on ikebana and Buddhism in Tricycle, Utne Reader
and The Best Spiritual Writing series, which in turn led to her first book, Heaven and Earth
are Flowers: Reflections on Ikebana and Buddhism.
Joan is currently working on a book about the Saigoku Kannon Pilgrimage in Japan. She
has already visited 19 of the 33 temples and hopes to finish the pilgrimage by 2015. You can
get a taste of her pilgrimage adventures from her travel articles: "Tsubosakadera: Big
Buddhas of Japan" and “Hiking in the Land of Yamabushi,” posted on Romar Traveler
When not traveling in Japan, Joan resides on Orcas Island, where she writes, teaches
ikebana, photographs her work and participates in a small Zen study group.