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The Japanese have a lovely tradition of sending New Year's cards. Unfortunately, my New Year's greeting are a bit late, 済みません, sumimasen — meaning I am sorry. But I wish you a Happy New Year — 明けましておめでとうございま す, Akemashite omedetou gozaimasu — 新年恭喜，身體健康， 萬事如意， 心想事成, Xīnnián gōngxǐ, shēntǐ jiànkāng, wànshì rúyì, xīn xiǎng shì chéng, meaning Health, luck, and your heart's happiness in the New Year!
2013 is also the auspicious year of the snake in the Chinese lunar calendar. So we welcome another lucky year as we also reflect on the previous year.
This past year, I visited some amazing temples, gardens, and water resource projects in Taiwan, Korea, and Japan. I was struck by the ingenuity and imagination infused into the built environment. I was reminded of this quote by my friend from high school, the author Naomi Wolf, who wrote in her book, The Treehouse: Eccentric Wisdom from My Father on How to Live, Love, and See:
"...[when] you have put your emotion into it, driven your artist's discipline into it, seen it through to completion and signed your name to it, if only in your own mind...your work comes alive and gives life to those around you. And it gives life...to you."
Heavenly pantheons painted in mosaic tile on Taiwanese temples, decorated man hole covers in Japan, Shilla ceramic roof tiles and landscaping pavers in Korea — fabulous arrays of coherent details and elements that work to transform the built environment into a graceful milieu that defines the society and culture.