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Nobel Peace Center and the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew Partner with Japan Institute for London Peace Symposium

London Peace Symposium keynote speaker Kjersti Fløgstad, Nobel Peace Center Director. Photo by Hayley Madden.

In December 2022, Japan Institute of Portland Japanese Garden took its international peace programming to the United Kingdom. Over the course of a week in London, Japan Institute facilitated a variety of different events motivated by the pursuit of peace through dialogue, art, and the human relationship with the rest of the natural world. These exciting endeavors included a gathering at the United States Embassy in London, a pine pruning and bamboo fence building workshop, a presentation of a masterfully handcrafted Peace Lantern to the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, and a Peace Symposium, Peacemaking at the Intersection of Culture, Art, and Nature.

Guildhall, where Japan Institute’s 2022 London Peace Symposium was held. Photo by Hayley Madden.

Peacemaking at the Intersection of Culture, Art, and Nature

Following its first symposium in Tokyo, Japan in September, Japan Institute partnered with some of the U.K.’s foremost Japanese cultural and gardening organizations to convene in the auspicious trappings of Guildhall in front of a diverse group of attendees who hailed from not just the U.K., but the world at large. “This was our first international program outside of the U.S. and Japan,” notes Special Advisor of Japan Institute’s International Exchange Forum, Paula Esguerra. “It was a watershed moment for us because it not only helped introduce Japan Institute’s work to another part of the world, but because it helped us engage in an active dialogue and exchange with partners we rarely have the opportunity to see in person.”

James Chau (R) leads a panel discussion at the London Peace Symposium with panelists (L-R) Joseph Grimaldi, Robert Ketchell, and Shiro Nakane. Photo by Hayley Madden.

Attendees heard a congratulatory address from Tokyo Governor, Yuriko Koike, and a keynote
address given by Nobel Peace Center Director, Kjersti Fløgstad. The core program of the symposium consisted of two panel discussions, “Japanese Gardens: Transforming the Global Cultural Landscapes” and “Re-imagining Peace at the Intersection of Architecture, Art, and Nature,” both moderated by WHO Goodwill Ambassador, James Chau. Fløgstad, whose organization will be partnering with Japan Institute in 2023, set the tone for the event with a keynote speech, sharing a quote by former South Africa President and Nobel Peace Prize Winner, Nelson Mandela, “The best weapon is to sit down and talk.” The greatest impact in the room came from anecdotes rooted in human experience.

“Being open and curious are peaceful acts,” shared Esguerra. “That’s what is so valuable about the Symposium—it was a successful convening of inclusive and creative views around peace. Japan Institute and Portland Japanese Garden want to continue to build these platforms where diverse opinions are welcomed, shared, and transformed into action.”

An Important Symbol of Peace, in a Renowned Institution

The Peace Lantern in the Japanese Landscape of The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Photo by Hayley Madden.

A Peace Lantern, an exact replica of one in Portland Japanese Garden’s Strolling Pond Garden, now stands in the tranquil Japanese Landscape at Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, a globally-renowned garden and UNESCO World Heritage Site. “Receiving this important symbol of peace is a source of great pride for all of us at RBG Kew,” shared Richard Deverell, Executive Director of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. “We have always sought to leverage the power of nature and our stunning living collection to make a positive impact in our shared world. The lantern will be a beautiful and important addition to the Japanese Landscape here at Kew Gardens and we hope that visitors will come from far and wide to enjoy it and learn about its important meaning.” To learn more about our Peace Lantern gift, click here.

Sharing Japanese Culture Through Hands-On Workshops

Hugo Torii, Garden Curator of Japan Institute of Portland Japanese Garden, demonstrates a knot-tying technique during the bamboo fence building workshop. Photo by Hayley Madden.

As part of the peace programming, Japan Institute and Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew held a Japanese Gardening Workshop for a small group of gardening professionals and enthusiasts. Japan Institute’s Chief Curator, Sadafumi Uchiyama, and Garden Curator, Hugo Torii, were joined by Jake Davies-Robertson, Arboretum Supervisor for Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, in leading a hands-on maple and pine tree pruning workshop as well as a bamboo fence-building workshop.

Advancing the Mission of Inspiring Harmony and Peace

Japan Institute staff and their patron tour outside the Nobel Peace Center in Oslo, Norway.

Concurrent to its peace programming in London, Japan Institute hosted a patron tour including Portland Japanese Garden Board Members, donors, and partners to experience more programs and build the relationships that will help advance our mission of inspiring harmony and peace. At the conclusion of the London Peace Symposium, the patron tour continued to Oslo, Norway. There, both Japan Institute staff and their fellow travelers visited the Nobel Peace Center and attended events highlighted by the Nobel Peace Prize Award ceremony held on December 10. Below is a collection photos of the events and gatherings that took place in Norway.

Japan Institute’s peace programming is made possible through Robert and Deborah Zagunis