Lithuania in the News
8th May 2011
Lithuania and Japan Linked through Bonsai and Japanese Gardens
Kestutis Ptakauskas. Photo courtesy bonsailithuania.com
In a month’s time, 9 -12 June 2011, the 2nd Japanese Culture Festival and 6th International Bonsai and Suiseki Exhibition will be held in Vilnius at the Litexpo Exhibition and Convention Centre. The moving force behind the festival and the exhibition is the president of the organising committee, Kestutis Ptakauskas, who heads the company “Bonsai Studija”. The patron is the Past President of Lithuania, Valdas Adamkus, and a major supporter is the Japanese Embassy in Lithuania.
The rising popularity of the art of bonsai is just one example of the growing interest in Japanese culture in Lithuania, which is reciprocated by a significant interest in Lithuania by the Japanese. There have been many artistic exchanges between the two countries, at the opposite ends of the Eurasian land mass. As this year 2011 is the 20th anniversary of the reestablishment of diplomatic relations between Lithuania and Japan, the festival and the exhibition are especially significant and will be a unique event on a European scale. There will be
ŠŠarūnas Kasmauskas and Hajime Watanabe (right)
at Mažučiai. Photo courtesy lrytas.lt
participation by twenty countries, with many artists from Japan illustrating Japanese arts with concerts, demonstrations of bonsai, Japanese swords, kimonos, calligraphy, Japanese tea ceremony, haiku poetry and many other arts.
The fascination with Japanese gardens by Lithuanians has resulted in the largest Japanese traditional garden in Europe being constructed in Western Lithuania near the Baltic Sea at village of Mažučiai (which the Japanese are calling Madzuchai). This garden was the idea of ŠŠarūnas Kasmauskas, a medical doctor by profession, who managed to inspire the enthusiasm of a Japanese garden master, Hajime Watanabe, to come to Mažučiai with a large team of assistants. Watanabe and his team have been at work on the huge 16 hectare gardens site since 2007. Watanabe has designed and constructed Japanese gardens in many countries, including Australia. The gardens at Mažučiai are now well advanced, are already listed as a major tourist destination and attract many visitors. Hajime Watanabe likes living in Lithuania and is planning to live there, even after the gardens are completed.

Further information:
www.bonsailithuania.com   http://japoniskassodas.org
http://search.japantimes.co.jp/print/nn20100430f2.html   www.lrytas.lt 29/04/11