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. A Pilgrimage in
Japan: the 33 Temples of Kannon releases May 25th from 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.
Joan resides on Orcas Island where she writes, teaches ikebana and co-leads a Buddhist
study and practice group.