Senior community plans to study Asian culture

Asian art adorns the walls of The Lakeshore. (Photo courtesy of The Lakeshore)

By Marino Saito
Northwest Asian Weekly

Staying engaged physically, intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually is good for one’s health at any age. This is especially important after retirement.

Elders in the south Seattle retirement community at The Lakeshore are staying engaged by learnimg about Asian arts and culture over the course of this year. Their studies began in February, during the Chinese Lunar New Year. The residents are involved in art, culture, and a variety of ongoing learning programs throughout the year at Lakeshore — it is one reason why many choose to live there.

This year, the residents wanted to change things up by focusing for 12 months on a single topic. They chose Asia and Asian culture for a variety of reasons, said Lakeshore public relations manager Nicole Francois, including interest in their diverse neighborhood and a growing Asian American population. About 27 percent of Lakeshore residents are Asian American.

“They want to expand their knowledge of Asian traditions, cultures, and cuisine — the food part has been especially popular so far,” said Francois.

The residents are interested in revisiting different periods in history, ranging from more than 1,000 years ago to recent events. They are learning about political structures in Asian countries, especially China because it is such a big and controversial trading partner of the United States.

This year, all three of the community’s professionally curated art exhibits (which are open to all and free to attend) are Asia-focused. The first is literati (sumi-e | shui mo hua), centered on the traditional Japanese and Chinese ink painting technique. Literati painting is associated with the highest levels of art education. The second will be a cut wood exhibit focusing on Southeast Asian art from Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam. The third exhibit will celebrate the Asian American experience with well-known local artists. In addition, Lakeshore elders will partake in a Chanoyu ceremony, Ikebana lessons, history presentations, Sanshin and Koto concerts.

“Delving into a whole year of Asian-themed art presents rich rewards for the residents of The Lakeshore, our neighbors, and the people who work here,” said June Sekiguchi, Era Living art curator. “The art we are showcasing this year tells stories of the Asian experience in China, Japan, and Korea, as well as in Southeast Asia. Our final exhibit focuses on the Asian American experience in the Pacific Northwest. There is much to discover through these works of art.”

In addition, the Lakeshore dining staff at has been preparing recipes from Asian regions, often working with local chefs. They hosted a traditional Chinese buffet for Lunar New Year.

The staff has also planned several outings, such as shopping at Uwajimaya and visiting the Wing Luke and Seattle Asian Art museums.

“We want to immerse ourselves in the wisdom and the beauty of Asian cultures,” said Susanne Rossi, Lakeshore executive director. “The purpose of this study is to widen our perspective, share experiences that result in deeper and lasting relationships, and enjoy our neighbors even more because we have gained knowledge of some of the many cultures that surround our home.”  (end)

Marino Saito can be reached at

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