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European Japanese Garden Association (EJGA)

Origin

Since several years –  2012 to more exact – Carla Amorim has been working on establishing a network of people – professionals on Japanese gardening, landscape architects, authors and educators, also amateur lovers of Japanese gardens, all over the world, and specifically in Europe. For that she has engaged on every social media platform, (specially on a Facebook group with now more of 14.000 members) and has traveled all over the world to visit gardens and meet professionals, or people met through the group, to share and enhance this passion for Japanese gardens wherever or whomever she could reach.

On this journey she has met wonderful people and beautiful gardens, and also joined several of the existing organizations like NAJGA in the US or Japanese Garden Society in the Uk and more recently, the Denmark Japanese Garden Association.

Through the years the culture and understanding of Japanese Gardens, specially in Europe, hasn’t fully been understood or mastered, still hasn’t fully bloom, mainly because everyone (including the existing associations) seem to be doing the same things, but working isolated. Everyone has passion and works for a same goal but disperse efforts on doing it alone. Some of these organizations have come together to organize some events, but it still feels that a whole world of people and professionals and gardens are left out.

Goals

The main goal of the creating EJGA, has always been to connect people with this same interest, but above all, to provide means to educate each and everyone of those who have interest on understanding and learning the origins, meaning and techniques of this art of gardening. Deepening and  leading education on this matter – for professionals or just a passionate amateurs – is possible and important, but above all should promote and preserve the principles and legacy of traditional Japanese gardens. Only through education and shared knowledge this can be possible.

Promoting the creation of new Japanese gardens in Europe as art and wellbeing vehicles, also as a strategic way to preserving the existing ones, since one of the greater worries on the last few years has been their maintenance and the great human cost it has to bring specialists all the way from Japan, either for building or maintain them.

This difficulty has led to the destruction or deterioration of many gardens and for that a special program has been implemented by the Japanese authorities, in order to recover some of those gardens, many of them gifts of the Japanese emigrant community or fruit of diplomatic efforts from the Japanese nation towards the countries/ regions where they were built.

The mission concerning this matter, includes extending knowledge, connecting professionals and passionate people into reaching the inspiration, but above all spread them all the love and respect for this art.

There seems to be a difficult matter in Europe to find the professionals with the specialized skills to build or maintain a Japanese garden, which is a clear indicator of the existing gap on education.

A 2018 NAJGA Conference discussion panel on defining Japanese gardens gave Carla the opportunity of interviewing and break down the answers to a survey made to a vast European sample of participants, from a wide range of countries and conclude (please see a resume of this presentation bellow) that the exposed data cry out for the need of education and the need of creating an association. This association had in some informal way, already been created in 2012 on the figure of a Facebook group that now has more 14.000 members, and a EJGA page existing now since 2017.

Mission

The creation of a European Japanese Garden Association (or foundation) can encompass all of these goals and needs, reuniting firstly the existing Japanese garden associations in Europe and their value and experience throughout the years and, by doing so, promote the creation of new European country associations, that would work jointly, all over Europe, as one, with the same fundamental goals and reaching much more people and professionals that want to learn and respectfully preserve Japanese gardens and its principles, only this way they can be an asset everywhere, no matter if in Japan or abroad, since their beauty and emotional effect on people are Universal and so they should be.

Associating the existing gardens in Europe to promoting Japanese gardening principles, history and symbolism, collaborating with the association on implementing recurrent events, bringing that knowledge closer to common people, in order to increase the interest and education of public in general and also of professionals related to gardening and landscaping design.

Germany, Italy, France, Spain, Portugal, Denmark, Netherlands, UK are listening and willing to start collaborating.

In difficult times it has always been said that united we shall prevail and I say that now is the moment to gather the passion that units all and firmly walk through this path.

Presentation “Defining Japanese Gardens –  Europe survey”, 2018, NAJGA conference,  panel of discussion.