Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN


October 21, 2013

Pleasant Hill Ramblings: Landis an expert puppeteer

CROSSVILLE — In Pleasant Hill resides an expert puppeteer and “spintastics” expert, Janell Landis. On Tuesday, Nov. 5, at 3 p.m. in Adshead Hall on the lower level of Fletcher House for Assisted Living in Uplands Village, she will demonstrate some of her Japanese tops. Many other intricate, beautiful tops will be on display at that time.

After Heidelberg College in Tiffin, OH, and studying Christian education at Eden Seminary in St. Louis, Landis received an opportunity to go to Japan in 1953. She learned that it would be possible for her to go to Japan to teach English for three years without learning the Japanese language or making a lifetime commitment. Forty-two years later, her life’s work in Japan was obviously meant to be. Although most of her career was teaching English in Sendai, Japan, at a Japanese Christian school, she did spend two years learning Japanese in Tokyo.

In the beginning years, because she couldn’t speak the language of her girls, they had to find other ways to communicate. They interacted in many ways through recreation, hikes, sharing food and visits to each others’ homes. Jan first worked with puppets at a church in Ohio in 1950. As a child she loved to do imitations and impersonations. She brought some puppets to Japan. A Japanese friend, Michi Sato, made many of her Japanese puppets.

Puppets have a way of making everyone less inhibited. She soon discovered that her puppets could help her teach English to her Japanese students. They have been useful tools in classes as well as helping her share her Christian faith both in Japan and here in Cumberland County. She even used them on a Japanese television series to teach English to homemakers. Presently, she has more than 30 puppets made from a variety of substances.

In 1982, Landis began studying with Michiaki Hiroi, who was one of the surviving craftsmen making Edo tops and toys. Edo is the old name for Tokyo. He made the tools and prepared the wood that she used on her own lathe in her “top shop.” In countries such as Japan and China, top-spinners are respected adult public entertainers. Jan has created countless tops of many types both in Japan and here in Pleasant Hill.

There are twirlers, cord spinners, “tippee” tops (they flip over), unique sets of tops sporting a particular theme both Japanese and American. For several years a large department store in Sendai featured the tops made by her and other apprentices of Hiroi for sale after the Japanese New Year. An avid Lady Vols fan here in Tennessee, she made tops for Pat Summit and the team. They always look for her and her puppet, Darling, dressed in orange at the basketball games.

Landis retired as a missionary with the United Church of Christ Board for World Ministries and has been in in Pleasant Hill since 1995. Not only does her cousin live in Uplands, but several former Japanese missionaries she met while serving in Japan, retired here as well. Landis was invited back to Japan for the dedication of a junior and high school special activities building named in her honor – Landis Kan — in Sendai.

She enjoys visiting churches and nursing homes in Cumberland County and has appeared at Fair Park Senior Center and the Cumberland County Community Complex. She has served as a volunteer and board member for Avalon, working in fundraisers and the Second Chance Store. She also volunteers at many other places in Pleasant Hill.


This week in Pleasant Hill:

• Charles McCollough sculptor — Friday, Oct. 25, at 10 a.m. and Sunday, Oct. 27, at 9 a.m., in the Pleasant Hill Community House across from the Pleasant Hill Post Office.

• Scenic City Chorale from Chattanooga — Sunday, Oct. 27, at 3:30 p.m. in Pleasant Hill Community Church across from the Pleasant Hill Elementary School.

Text Only
  • Parkinson’s therapies help patients live big and loud

    Parkinson’s disease has famously affected the lives of celebrities like Michael J. Fox and Muhammad Ali. But whether a person with Parkinson’s is world famous or a next-door neighbor, new therapies are offering hope for a better quality of life.

    July 22, 2014

  • 8-5 CATS in Palace-Carole Jarboe Cullen - waterfall.jpg Local art event planned at CATS

    Plans are being made for an event sponsored by the CATS Gallery at the Palace Theatre, 72 South Main St., Crossville, Tuesday, Aug. 5, beginning at 6 p.m. There will be refreshments, music and an opportunity to view a performance painting by artist Chuck Jensen. A live auction of donated art pieces will begin at 7:30 p.m. with the opportunity to "Be a Cool Cat — Buy Local Art." There is free admission, but it is advisable to get a free ticket at the CATS Gallery in the middle section of the Crossville Mall, at the Palace Theatre or from any participating member of CATS. During the event, original art items including paintings, photographs, and jewelry will be offered for auction, such as this expressive waterfall painting by Carole Cullen.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Marriage licenses (Published July 23, 2014)

    July 22, 2014

  • fair park.jpg Heritage demonstrators welcome

    Most of Americans today never stop to think how different our lives would have been several hundred years ago. How many times a day do we wash our hands, and do we ever realize when we take those hot showers and lather up, the long all-day process our ancestors had to go through just to make a bar of soap? Not to mention packing water to the house and heating it up over a wood fire just to have a bath and wash clothes. Times are changing faster than ever.

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • pleasant hill ramblings.jpg Mathes restores a bit of Pleasant Hill's history

    Miss Alice Adshead, RN, created a “wilderness trail” through the woods just down the hill from Uplands Sanatorium, the first hospital in Cumberland County once located on Main St. in Pleasant Hill.

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • plateau gardening-hydrangeas5117.jpg Prune flowering shrubs: now or wait until February?

    Experts say, “Don’t prune woody-stemmed plants (shrubs, trees and some types of vines) after mid-August.” Do pay close attention to that advice. The purpose of this late-season pruning prohibition is to keep plants healthy.

    July 21, 2014 2 Photos

  • IMG_1850.jpg Burgess Falls offers a big payoff for a short hike

    At Burgess Falls, you can be out of your car and taking in the breathtaking view of the Falling Water River as it falls 136 feet in the third and final drop of the river with just a short walk through the woods.
    But even though the state park is close to civilization, this natural wonder retains its wild and scenic reputation.

    July 17, 2014 1 Photo 19 Links

  • 8-2 colonial dames.jpg Colonial Dames honors members with luncheon

    The John McKnitt Chapter Colonial Dames 17th Century held its May meeting at the home of Joyce Ernst. Those present were Sherry Sneed, Jessie Watts, Dot Brodhag, Kandy B. Smith, Lynn Constan, Donna Hamilton, Margaret Markum, Lana Davis, Sara Tripiciano, Jane Tavernier, Joyce Ernst, Kathy Wilson, Charlotte Reynolds, and Cheryl Chrobot. President Lana Davis welcomed the ladies and followed with the opening ritual.

    July 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • J & J Show Best of Show.jpg Art Guild announces winners from Judged and Juried Show

    On June 6, the Art Guild at Fairfield Glade held a reception to announce the winners of the Judged and Juried Fine Arts Show. The pieces were judged by Marcia Goldenstein of Knoxville. Stonehaus Winery provided refreshments for the occasion.

    July 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • 8-1 Celtic Circle.jpg Celtic Circle donates to ACPL

    Celtic Circle, a local group of Americans celebrating their Celtic heritage, recently donated a subscription for Scotland Magazine to the Art Circle Public Library and to the Homestead Elementary School library. Pictured, left to right, are Barbara Nugent, originally from Yorkshire, England; Susie Randleman, ACPL director; and Catherine Stewart Munkelwitz from Inverness, Scotland. Celtic Circle will host a program titled "Celtic Sampler" at ACPL on Friday, Aug. 1 beginning at noon. Entertainment includes great Highland bagpipe, bodhran, harp, Irish step dancing, both Scottish and Irish songs, Gaelic spoken and sung, tartan weaving and Celtic Children's Corner with crafts.

    July 15, 2014 1 Photo