Tarmo Hannula/The Pajaronian HAND MADE Na Omi Judy Shintani leads a paper lantern making workshop April 13 at the Watsonville Public Library.

Several people gathered in a large meeting room at Watsonville Public Library recently, where they delved into the cultural significance of Japanese paper lanterns, and then got a chance to make their own.

The free, one-day, 3-hour event provided attendees with wood popsicle sticks, paper, glue and an endless collection of colorful art objects, from magazine collage materials, to ribbon, threads, beads, glitter and colorful tissue paper, to coloring pens and paints, sequins, buttons and dried natural leaves and moss.

Tarmo Hannula/The Pajaronian AGLOW These lanterns were the final product of the workshop by community members.

Headed up by Na Omi Judy Shintani, under the program Watsonville Reads, about 20 people first heard of the significance of the lanterns that Shintani said can reflect honor, respect and  acceptance of friends and family, past and present, as well as places or important events.

“Think of resilience and bouncing back from difficult experiences before you build your lantern,” Shintani said. “There is resilience, even on a dark day. Your lantern brings light and can build your confidence.” 

Shintani, a third-generation Japanese-American artist, said the workshop ties into an ongoing exhibit on the ground floor of the library that explores, through photos and text, the devastating blows dealt to Japanese-Americans by executive order 9066, signed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt on Feb. 19, 1942, that led to the incarceration of 120,000 people during World War II. 

Shintani led the group, step by step, on how to build the small lanterns with a  “focus on art as resistance.”

Once the basic lanterns were complete, the group launched into decorating them with drawings, paintings, sketches and an array of colorful add-ons under the tutelage of Shintani. The end result showed images of birds and animals, people, stars and planets, flowers and trees, graphic designs and layered collages.

Tarmo Hannula/The Pajaronian PERSONAL STORIES Each lantern took on a different design and a unique story.

As a group finale, Shintani handed out tiny battery-powered flickering candles that went inside the lanterns that were placed all together on one table. 

She then threw off the lights, and the glow of the lanterns told the rest of the story.

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General assignment reporter, covering nearly every beat. I specialize in feature stories, but equally skilled in hard and spot news. Pajaronian/Good Times/Press Banner reporter honored by CSBA. https://pajaronian.com/r-p-reporter-honored-by-csba/


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