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's second book on Japan is about a Kannon (Guan Yin) pilgrimage in Western Japan.
The manuscript is currently in production and due to release sometime in 2018 by Mantra
Books. There are many Kannon pilgrimages in Japan but the Saigoku or Western Japan
pilgrimage is the most famous and beautiful. The 33 temples of this pilgrimage have been
traveled by devotees of Kannon for over a thousand years. Some of the temples are in urban
areas and some are high in the mountains, but all of them contain significant icons, legends
and sacred energy. You can get a flavor for the Saigoku Kannon pilgrimage by viewing
some of Joan's photos on the "Pilgrimage" page of this website.
When not traveling in Japan, Joan resides on Orcas Island, where she writes, teaches
ikebana, photographs her work and participates in a small Buddhist study and practice