Hirokazu Kosaka is a Buddhist priest and an artist, but when I visited him last week at the Japanese American Cultural Cultural and Community Center in Little Tokyo, he sounded more like he was into construction, or gardening. Four 18-wheelers had just dumped loads of pebbles on the plaza outside the center on San Pedro Street. On the edge of the enormous circle, Kosaka carefully guided a rake. “LA County Museum has one rock,” he joked. “We have five million of them.”
This enormous, temporary Japanese garden is the centerpiece of the LA Bloom Festival, which runs through the weekend and is offering up a wide range of activities, from performances to floral displays, as well as a cafe and beer garden.
Kosaka explained the thinking: “It’s sort of dismal right now,” he said, what with the economy and the state of the world. “The CEO here came up with the idea to do something to liven up the city.” As we stood in the mist of the overcast day, Kosaka’s Buddhist training was evident: “Tea, flower arrangement, calligraphy, all of this is part of this intricate Buddhist notion of this mindfulness, ego-less mind, the impermanence of all things. All part of Buddhist mindfulness, and interdependency. All of this is conjoined in oneness We call that void or empty. That’s interesting for me. Trying to be an artist, with an ego-less mind, that’s quite different than the Western mind.”
Kosaka’s pride in the work of others was evident as he showed off a floral arrangement, called ikebana, constructed by women in the neighborhood. “They’re just housewives, not technically artists,” he said. “Look what they did.”
LA Bloom runs until Saturday, May 5.