The Hawaii Tribune-Herald published an article Tuesday, May 14, 2013 on plans underway for two related centennials in 2017: the passing of Queen Lili`uokalani and the dedication of land for a large oceanside park in her name in Hilo. Here is a link to that article with a photo by Bill F. Eger.
A new look at Japanese gardens in North America — Quiet Beauty — provides the viewing public with detailed information and delightful photographs on 26 peaceful places across the continental United States and into Canada.
Author Kendall H. Brown is a professor of Asian art history at California State University Long Beach. Photographer David M. Cobb is a member of the North American Nature Photography Association, Garden Writers Association, and Professional Photographers of America.
Released by the esteemed publishing house Tuttle Publishing, this beautiful book offers history and invites thoughtfulness on how these gardens came to be and what they offer to us now. Insightful text is accompanied by more than 180 stunning color photographs and a few reproductions of antique postal cards.
In the introduction — Places to Dream — Dr. Brown notes, “Japanese gardens or, more accurately, Japanese-style gardens, in North America offer distinct pleasures. In contrast to the cacophony of cities, the anonymity of suburbs, and even the anxiety of deserts or forests, these gardens can provide beautifully controlled environments. In artful landscapes we lose ourselves in a path woven around a pond and a harmonious stone arrangement; we delight in the variegated colors of graceful koi and the bright hues of blossoming plums; and we are calmed by a stream’s gentle murmur and the dappled greens of moss. Another kind of pleasure is contextual and social rather than sensory and psychological. Japanese gardens in North America are often found there we least expect them, and in places unknown in pre-modern Japan. Thus we feel a special delight in discovering a ‘dry garden’ of stones and sand at a museum, a lush pond garden on a college campus, or a waterfall-fed stream garden in a hospital. Those familiar with gardens in Japan may also enjoy Japanese-style gardens intellectually, noting creative plant substitutions or thoughtful ways of interpreting Japanese design principles within distinctly North American spaces.”
Dr. Brown takes three eras posited by garden historian Makoto Suzuki of the Nodai Institute, professor at Tokyo University of Agriculture, and expands them to five: the age of world fairs and expositions, building bridges, innovation by adaptation, expansive visions and traditions transformed.
During the past ten years. I have read many articles by Ken Brown and have heard him speak at several conferences. I serve on the editorial board of the North American Japanese Garden Association (NAJGA) which editorial board he chairs. In person, I can verify that Dr. Brown delivers a substantial amount of information in a short amount of time — all of it masterfully accompanied by photographs, post cards, newspaper clippings and other visual aids along with a good sense of humor and split second timing. There are times I have felt he is delivering information faster than I can absorb it so I am delighted to have such a beautiful volume I can savor at leisure.
I have a special appreciation for David Cobb’s photographs. My husband and I have been to many of the places depicted and know what it takes to get the perfect image of that spot. So many of Cobb’s shots are truly breathtaking.
Gardens featured in Quiet Beaut: The Japanese Gardens of North America are:
the Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park, San Francisco California 1894;
Japanese Garden at the Huntington Botanic Garden, San Marino California 1911 (also 1968, 2011);
Maymont Japanese Garden, Richmond Virginia, 1911 (1977);
Japanese Hill and Pond Garden at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, New York 1915;
Hakone Estate and Garden, Saratoga California 1918;
Shofuso Japanese House and Garden, Philadelphia Pennsylvania 1958;
Japanese Garden at the Washington Park Arboretum, Seattle Washington 1960;
Nitobe Memorial Garden at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver B.C. Canada 1960;
Japanese Garden at the Blodel Reserve, Bainbridge Island, Washington 1961 (1978, 1986);
Portland Japanese Garden, Portland Oregon 1963;
Japanese Garden in San Mateo Central Park, San Mateo California 1965;
Nikka-Yuko Japanese Garden, Lethbridge, Alberta 1966;
Nishinomiya Garden in Mani to Park, Spokane Washington 1974;
Japanese Garden in the Fort Worth Botanic Garden, Fort Worth Texas 1973;
Shomu’en at Cheekwood, Nashville Tennessee 1990;
Seiwa’en at the Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis Missouri 1977;
Sansho’en at Chicago Botanic Garden, Glencoe Illinois 1982;
Shofu’en at the Denver Botanic Gardens, Denver Colorado 1979;
Suiho’en at the Donald C. Tillman Water Reclamation Plant, Van Nuys California 1984;
Seisuitei at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, Chanhassen Minnesota 1985 (1996);
Anderson Japanese Gardens, Rockford Illinois 1978;
Japanese Garden at the Montreal Botanical Garden, Montreal Quebec 1988;
Tenshin’en at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, Boston Massachusetts 1988;
Roji’en in the Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens, Delray Beach Florida 2001;
R0ho’en in Margaret T. Hance Park, Phoenix Arizona 2002; and
Garden of the Pine Wind at Garven Woodland Gardens, Hot Springs Arkansas 2001.
Marvelous additions in the appendices include garden contacts and a select bibliography including books, journals and websites plus a listing of 75 important Japanese gardens in North America, five of which are in the state of Hawaii.
The Hawaii gardens appearing in this list include:
the Cultural Gardens at Honolulu International Airport 1967;
Imin (East West) Center at the University of Hawaii-Manoa 1963 (teahouse 1972);
Byodo’in Gardens, Kaneohe Oahu 1968;
Japanese Garden and Teahouse at Kepaniwai Park, Wailuku Maui 1968 (teahouse 1972); and
Lili`uokalani Gardens, Hilo Hawaii.
For more information on Quiet Beauty: The Japanese Gardens of North America and other books available from Tuttle Publishing, please consult the web site
For more information on the North American Japanese Garden Association, please consult the web site:
The following news arrived from Chicago where plans are in motion to celebrate the 120th year since the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition brought the beginnings of a Japanese garden to Wooded Isle in Jackson Park. Formerly known as Osaka Garden, The Garden of the Phoenix is located near the Museum of Science and Industry.
Please enjoy their plans for Sunday, March 31 at the following web site.
AAA Hawaii features Lili`uokalani Gardens in “The best of Hawai`i Island’s biggest little town” cover story in the March/April issue
The new issue of AAA Hawaii: The Magazine for AAA Members arrived in our mailbox Friday. The cover photo features one view of Lili`uokalani Gardens on Banyan Drive in Hilo. The Japanese garden, formerly known as Nihon Koen, was dedicated in 1917.
The major reason my husband and I traveled across the U.S. visiting as many Japanese gardens as we could in late May and June, and October of 2012, was to gather information to benefit Lili`uokalani Gardens as our community moves toward a centennial celebration in a few years.
This lovely cover story by Bill Harby with photographs by Bob Brown does a very nice job of featuring so many of our town’s attractions from dining spots and art exhibition spaces to museums, events and shopping. Taking center stage in the recommended list is Lili`uokalani Gardens, which Harby described as “perfect for picnics and strolling.”
Thank you AAA Hawaii for such a lovely story on our home town and such beautiful photos of our crown jewel of a public park.
The WordPress.com statistics helper monkeys (yes, that’s what Word Press calls them, helper monkeys!) prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.
Thank you Word Press for all your help in getting started with this effort and thank you Jake for your hands on tutorial.
And a very special thank you to all the gardeners — pruners, weeders, stone setters, carpenters, designers, docents, curators, horticulturists, fund raisers, web masters and executive directors — for your talents and hospitality. May we all enjoy the gifts of the garden in 2013.
With warm aloha,
K.T. Cannon-Eger and Bill Eger
Here’s an excerpt from the Word Press report:
“600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 12,000 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 20 years to get that many views.”
Continuing our journey from Atlanta to the West coast, Bill and I ended up in the Bay Area in late June. Wandering down a street in Berkeley, we came to the Higashi Honganji Buddhist temple at 1524 Oregon Street.
A long-time member of the sangha told us Rev. Ken Yamada is the current minister and more information on the temple is available at their web site http://www.bombu.org or by phoning (510) 843-6933.
Established in Berkeley in 1926, the current temple was built in the late 1930s. A social hall and classroom building was added in the 1960s and was undergoing repairs the day we were there in June.
“The present garden evolved from the beginning through a time when we had a lawn to the present garden which was installed on the occasion of the temple’s 60th anniversary,” said Rev. Yamada. “The pine tree inside the fence is close to 100 years old Many of our members were in the landscape gardening business.”
As members aged, maintenance of the trees became difficult. About 10 years ago Dennis Makishima, former president of the Golden State Bonsai Federation, got involved with the garden. His mother is a member of the sangha. Dennis got a call from the minister which resulted in the temple garden being added to the Merritt College Aesthetic Pruning Club volunteer events calendar twice a year.
Dennis Makishima started an aesthetic pruning course at Merritt College in Oakland which led to the formation of the pruning club in 1987. Members of the club also volunteer monthly at the Lake Merritt Japanese Garden and at Hakone Gardens in Saratoga.
Comments on this article and other stories on this blog are welcome.
Photographs not otherwise credited are by K.T. Cannon-Eger. To view any photo full size, just click on the image.
The Western Colorado Botanical Garden, located in Grand Junction, is one of several legacies of the late landscape architect Robert “Bob” Arcieri who passed away while on a hike in the remote canyons of Utah in 2007. He was born in Grand Junction to William and Sabbie Arcieri, the owners of the Arcieri Nursery on First Street. It was at this nursery that Bob’s love of nature and knowledge of plants developed and grew into a lifelong passion, according to the Summit Daily News.
A 1961 graduate of Grand Junction High School, senior class president and an Eagle Scout, Arcieri attended Stanford University for two years and then transferred to Iowa State and graduated in 1966 with a Bachelors of Science Degree in Landscape Architecture. He was inducted into the Honor Society of Agriculture and the Honor Society in Architecture and Allied Arts. He continued his education at Iowa State, graduating with a Masters Degree in Urban Planning in 1968.
Bob moved to Breckenridge in 1970 and with Architect Jon Gunson formed the Harris St. Group, an architecture and planning firm which designed the sidewalks, lights and landscaping on Main Street as well as the town’s Master Plan, development code and historic guidelines which are still in use today. The firm received numerous awards, including the American Institute of Planners Meritorious Program Award and the State of Colorado Columbine Award for Design Excellence.
In 1982, Bob and his wife Deb moved to Grand Junction, where Bob practiced as a Landscape Architect. He received numerous landscape awards for gardens in Grand Junction, many in conjunction with Bookcliff Gardens.
“Bob’s legacy will live on in the beautiful gardens, waterfalls, and changed landscapes in Western Colorado,” said his obituary in the Summit Daily News of October 13, 2007.
The Western Colorado Botanical Gardens is one such changed landscape.
“Years ago this was salvage yard, a junk yard,” said Margie Frey who has worked with the gardens for two years. Her name tag notes her title as Garden Diva. “The Japanese garden was designed by Bob Arcieri in the late 1990s. He did this amazing design plus a 50 page document on plants, styles etc., but the garden remains a work in progress.”
There are 15 acres in the botanical gardens and ten named gardens. Although the organization has had some difficulty raising money in the past, things are looking up.
“Repairs in the greenhouse were completed and we reopened three months ago. The gift shop helps support garden,” said Frey.
A mutually beneficial partnership is underway with Mesa Developmental Services, a non-profit group that assists persons with developmental disabilities.
Mesa Developmental Services has a mobile crew that helps handle landscapes, a woodshop crew that helped with rebuilding, and a labor solutions program that helps with recycling and shredding.”
The gardens also enjoy collaboration with Colorado State University. “The rose garden was just planted last year and includes century old rose varieties. The cactus society takes care of the cactus garden, the herb society and orchid society help out too. The bonsai club meets here once a month,” Frey said.
Among plants featured in the Japanese garden are a recently planted weeping white pine, a weeping crabapple planted on Earth Day, weeping cherry trees, Black Hills spruce and pine.
The small garden structure was designed to camouflage the pump house. A bridge remains to be built at the concrete lined pond planted with water lilies. Local stone has been used throughout the garden.
For more information on the Western Colorado Botanical Gardens, go to the link
For more information on Bookcliff Gardens, go to the link
Photos not otherwise credited in this blog are by K.T. Cannon-Eger. Click on any image to see it full size. Comments are welcome.
Comments on this and other articles in this blog are welcome.
After obtaining his degree in horticulture in Japan and interning at the Chicago Botanic Garden, Akiyoshi (Ebi) Kondo joined Denver Botanic Gardens as a Horticulturist in April 2000 and was in charge of the display gardens and collections.
In 2003 Ebi was promoted to Senior Horticulturist and took responsibility of Sho-Fu-En, Denver Botanic Garden’s Japanese Garden. Originally designed by Koichi Kawana, construction on the two acre garden began in August 1978. Sho-fu-en, Garden of the Pines and Wind, was dedicated June 23, 1979.
“This was designed to be a provincial garden. Gifu-ken and Takayama-shi are next to the Nagano mountains, a very rugged area. Here we are amid the Rocky Mountains, also a rugged area,” Kondo said.
“This was one of Kawana-san’s last major gardens. It’s very shibui, very quiet.”
Koichi Kawana designed gardens in St. Louis, Missouri; Chicago, Illinois; Memphis Tennessee; Los Angeles and San Diego, California among others. The Hokkaido native who became a U.S. citizen in 1971 died in 1990 at the age of 60.
In 1979, the tea house was constructed in Japan “very mountain style,” said Kondo. “Not an ostentatious display; very good size for demonstrating tea ceremony.”
Built by Kumo Construction Company in Nagano, the tea house was disassembled and shipped to Denver. Company president Mr. Toshitame Hirabayashi and eight co-workers reassembled the teahouse along with the bridge and entry gate in 14 days. The teahouse was donated by the Eleanore Mullen Weckbaugh Foundation.
When the garden started, more than 130 character pines were moved from nearby Estes Park by the Rocky Mountain Bonsai Club. Permits were obtained from the U.S. Forest Service to collect Ponderosa pines. “Japanese gardens encourage the use of native plants. We have about 50 percent natives in this garden,” Kondo said.
In 1977, Bob Kataoka, Kai Kawahara, Harold Sasaki, Floyd Sunshine, Bob Krueger, Keith Jepson, Larry Jackel and Malcolm Correll manned the first flatbed truck collecting eight or ten pines that trip. Kai Kawahara, was a gardener at Sho-fu-en from 1980 to 1993. He was one of eight founding members of the earlier Denver Bonsai Club that merged to form RMBC.
As sometimes happens in the history of Japanese gardens in America, there came a period of disinterest, low funding and lack of maintenance. By 2000, the garden was in disrepair. “A garden without maintenance for even one season may take ten seasons to reclaim,” Kondo said.
He undertook the initiative of the garden’s restoration reaching out to Mr. Seki the Consulate General of Japan in Denver and ultimately partnering with Mr. Sadafumi Uchiyama from Portland Japanese Garden.
Sadafumi Uchiyama created a master plan for the development of Sho-fu-en in 2003. Phase one included a minor repair of the Tea Ceremony House/garden path ways and phase two encompassed restoration/ renovation of the existing lake and was completed over the following years.
In 2007 with help from the Hosokawa Grant, Kondo founded Denver Botanic Gardens tea ceremony guild Sho-Fu-Kai. The guild’s mission is to expose the public and garden patrons to Japanese Tea Ceremony and support the Sho-fu-en. A new machiai, rojimon (gate), obote senko design, uchi roji (inner path), and soto roji (outerpath), were added to the tea garden, opening to the public in mid-June this year.
Now, Sho-fu-en is one of a few signature gardens at Denver Botanic Garden.”We work hard to keep our volunteers happy and enthusiastic,” Kondo said. “We have monthly cultural nights, and regularly scheduled nature hikes and movie nights.
“We need to continue developing and implementing a program, a vision for our garden,” Kondo said. “Otherwise, it is an ornament, not a garden.”
Future programs in development at Sho-fu-en include the Horticultural Therapy Program and Volunteer Docent Program.
Kondo and Uchiyama are among the leadership members of the North American Japanese Garden Association (NAJGA), an organization newly formed for the purpose of networking public Japanese Gardens in North America. Kondo also is a member of the Japan America Society of Denver.
NAJGA holds its Connections conference in Denver this weekend (October 2012) with a full slate of workshops at the Denver Botanic Gardens. Also on the program is the premiere of David Slawson’s new film “Evoking Native Landscape Using Japanese Garden Principles” at the Sheraton Downtown on Friday evening. For further information, contact NAJGA at http://www.najga.org
Please feel free to comment on your experience with Denver Botanic Gardens and Sho-fu-en in the comment box below.
Other exhibits at Denver Botanic Gardens:
In addition to the Japanese garden, there are displays in other parts of the botanic garden grounds.
Kizuna — West Meets East, a series of site specific bamboo installations by Tetsunori Kawana from Japan and Stephen Talasnik from America, continues through November 4.
Also in mid-June 2012, a bonsai pavilion and courtyard opened as a memorial to the late news writer Bill Hosokawa. It was funding from the Alice and Bill Hosokawa Fellowship that helped Sho-fu-kai, the tea ceremony guild, form in 2008.
To view a full size image of any photo, just click on it. Photographs not otherwise credited in this blog are by K.T. Cannon-Eger.
For more information on bonsai history and World War II internment camps, please see
For more information on Denver Botanic Gardens, please visit
Research ahead of our trip pointed us in the direction of Domo Restaurant in Denver. Whenever we mentioned it to friends and family who live nearby, the response was an enthusiastic, “Oh yes! Go there!”
Our friends know us to be adventurous and willing to enjoy most everything.
It’s a country style building in a warehouse district near a public housing project — just a little out of the way, but so worth it. I was not bothered by the sounds of trains passing — in fact enjoyed hearing the whistle blow as night fell around us.
Our dear friend said he used to come here quite often a few years ago. It felt like home. But then it got discovered and crowded and he stopped going for a while.
“The garden isn’t like anything you’ve been seeing. It’s much more informal. Like someone’s casual backyard,” he explained. And as we sat and looked around he commented how much the garden had matured since his last visit.
We were seated outdoors at a wooden table with wire chairs. Soon the table was covered with dishes — an abundant feast, tasty and hearty.
The servers were attentive, but not overbearing, leaving us to enjoy our conversation and the surroundings.
Take time to wander a bit. The place is packed with memorabilia. There is a museum at one end of the courtyard and an aikido dojo.
Domo Restaurant, 1365 Osage Street, Denver, CO (303) 595-3666 · domorestaurant.com
Photos not otherwise credited in this blog are by K.T. Cannon-Eger. Click on any photo to see a full size image.
[NOTE: The following article was prepared in mid-2012. Since that time, this garden has a new name: "The Garden of the Phoenix." To learn more about activities planned for the 120th anniversary celebration March 31, 2013 please go to the garden friends' group's web site: http://gardenofthephoenix.org/ ]
From the first “Great Exposition” of 1851 in London, more than 90 world’s fairs have been held — most of them in Europe, the United States, Canada and Japan.
Though the themes may have differed, the motives were strikingly similar: “to commemorate a historic event, to educate and entertain, to sell new products, to peer into the future, and, although it’s rare, to turn a profit for the sponsors,” as noted by Norman Bolotin and Christine Laing in their 2002 book The World’s Columbian Exposition: The Chicago World’s Fair of 1893 published by University of Illinois Press.
To this day, we can enjoy remnants of those fairs: The Japanese Tea Garden in San Francisco dates back to an 1854 fair; the Japanese Friendship Garden in San Diego at Balboa Park dates from a tea pavilion at a 1915 fair. The present Osaka Garden had its beginning as Wooded Island in the 1893 World’s Columbia Exposition with additions following the 1933 Chicago World’s Fair: A Century of Progress.
In looking at all the world’s fairs, Bolotin and Laing noted: “when it comes to pure scope, grandeur and far-reaching legacies, the World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893 outshines them all. Twenty-eight million visitors (in six months). Buildings stretching a third of a mile long. The world’s first Ferris Wheel — with cars the size of buses! The first amusement section ever at a fair. Replicas of a full-size battleship and Columbus’ three caravels. Architectural impact reaching into the new century.”
Wooded Island was at the center and provided respite from the bustle of the fair. On the north end, three buildings were constructed representing Japanese architecture from the 12th, 16th and 18th centuries. They were connected to form the shape of Ho-o, a mythical bird like the phoenix. Some suggest the phoenix was used as an emblem for the City of Chicago, reborn from the great fire of 1871.
To get an idea of where this park is located, take a look at Google maps:
In a history for the Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference Parks Committee, Gary Ossewaarde wrote:
“The 1893 Ho-o-Den consisted of three structures joined by covered walkway to form the shape of the phoenix bird, which it did resemble from ground level). The beams and joinery were part of the beauty and ornament. Inside were artifacts and treasures from three periods of Japanese history-scrolls, vases, decorative screens, writing materials, and musical instruments. A major feature was the lanterns– both the elaborate stone ones and the paper lanterns at ceiling level. The elements and art were designed and crafted in Japan and brought over by steamer and train, along with carpenters, stone workers and gardeners. The construction itself was an activity that drew many visitors. A reporter wrote, ‘They move about serenely as if it were a pleasure to work’.
“The Japanese exhibit and pavilion also helped introduce Americans to Japanese culture, religion, arts, and architecture at a time (post-Meiji Restoration) when Japan was especially anxious to show the world its power, modernization, and accomplishments. Frank Lloyd Wright was but one of several architects and artists influenced by the Phoenix Pavilion, but the impact on him was arguably transformational leading not only to prairie houses but large structures such as the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo, and it influenced his decorative arts. It’s not only the exterior look and visible (“unmasked”) structure with form following function, and combination of fine craftsmanship with simple, everyday materials, but also the interconnecting corridors and holistic flow of the “rooms” that influenced Wright and others.”
It remains a place of tranquility between the University of Chicago to the west and the Lake Michigan shore to the east, a baseball field, marina and golf course to the south and the Museum of Science and Industry to the north. The Museum of Science and Industry is the last remaining structure on the site of the 1893 fair. Built as the Palace of Fine Arts, it was of more substantial, fire-proof construction to protect the art.
The Ho-o-den was donated by the Japanese government at the close of the 1893 fair with the intention that it remain as a lasting memento. In 1933, for the Century of Progress World’s Fair, Chicago and the government of Japan constructed a traditional tea house on Chicago’s near/mid-south lakefront and also created a garden on Wooded Island’s northeast side and refurbished the Ho-o-den. The garden was designed by issei Taro Otsuka, a garden builder based in the Midwest. After that fair closed, a torii gate, the Nippon Tea House and lanterns from the Century of Progress were moved to Wooded Island in 1935.
More work on the Japanese garden was done by George Shimoda and built with assistance from Japan. As it does today, the garden consisted of a double pond with islands, a cascading waterfall, stone walkway, flowering cherry trees, iris, lilies, a moon bridge, rock formations and stone lanterns.
The garden and buildings fell prey to public fears during World War II and several fires destroyed the buildings from 1941 to 1946. Gradually, the site became neglected and overgrown.
One rebirth began in 1973 with the formalizing of a Sister City relationship with Osaka, a relationship that went back to the 1950s. Also in 1973, Douglas C. Anderson began leading bird walks “in part to reclaim them for birders and the communities of Hyde Park, Woodlawn and South Shore. Gradually, thanks in good measure to Doug and to picnics/People in the Park events held by the Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference and Open Lands, citizens and birders returned, rediscovered Osaka Garden and demanded its restoration,” Ossewaarde wrote.
“Also, by 1974 Jackson Park had been placed on the National Register of Historic Places. During that decade, the Park District added new landscaping, stabilized the shoreline and either restored or reconstructed most of the original features.”
Another rebirth occurred in the 1980s when designer Kaneji Domoto was brought in. He was known for his work designing Japanese gardens at the 1939 world fairs at both Treasure Island in California and in New York. Nissei Domoto (1913-2002) worked at his parents’ Northern California nursery and later was interned at the Granada War Relocation Center during WWII. He studied at Berkeley and with Frank Lloyd Wright at Taliesin and had a 50+ year career as an architect and landscape designer. In 1974, he authored Bonasi and the Japanese garden. In 1983, Domoto received the Frederick Law Olmsted Award for his redesign of the Japanese garden at Jackson Park. George Cooley, formerly a JPAC officer and Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference officer, shepherded planning and secured grants including federal funds for the Garden restoration.
The designs of the 1970s and 1980s followed the original paths designed in 1893 to provide a stroll through the wooded area.
The next phase was in 1992 and 1993 when the 20th anniversary of the Sister City relationship was celebrated and the Garden was renamed Osaka Japanese Garden (1993). In 1994-95 a new traditional formal gate and fence, were dedicated, funded by the City of Osaka and constructed entirely without nails and by hand using tongue and groove methods. A major historical study and report were produced in 1992.
Yet another rebirth began in 2000 with the direction of Sadafumi Uchiyama in creating a master plan for the garden. Uchiyama is a third generation Japanese gardener from southern Japan, His family’s involvement in the business dates back to the Meiji era (1909). He served as secretary of the International Association of Japanese Gardens from 1996 to 2000 and currently is garden curator of the Portland Japanese Garden and a member of the board of directors of the North American Japanese Garden Association (NAJGA). Uchiyama received his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in landscape architecture from the University of Illinois and is licensed in Oregon and California.
Initial work was completed in 2001 with steel retaining walls that line the banks of the pond, 100 tons of new boulders to shore up the edges of the pond and lagoon, and resetting of 120 tons of rock. Uchiyama picked jagged stones to redesign the “behavior of the water” in the waterfall. It flows into the pond at 600 gallons per minute.
“In 2008, after a hiatus in reestablishing a maintenance contract, and some less than satisfactory catch up pruning, parties including the City of Osaka Chicago Office, new contractors Clauss Brothers, expert pruning supervisor Bill Koons, CPD supervisor Karen Szyka and Department of Planning and Development took action. Main improvements included repair and cleaning of the torii gate, numerous cherries, replacement of a burr oak blown down in a storm, and most important replacement of the waterfall pump,” Ossewaarde wrote.
“Rededication on October 18, 2008 — the 35th anniversary of the Sister City partnership — included dedication by the Vice Mayor of Osaka and performances of a traditional sit down comedy–Kaishi and two Rakugo.”
“Everyone is aware that some shoring up will still be needed, and such gardens need permanent funding to make the intensive maintenance sustainable– and high level of security. Any permanent oversight group will have to look at which garden template is to be the goal, bearing in mind that a Japanese garden is meant to be changing and evanescent through the seasons and years– a never-ending work of art.
“The Garden’s theme, from 1893 to the present, is peace–between humans and nature, within people, with the spiritual realm, and between peoples. These themes are dear to the people of Osaka, Chicago, and the park’s neighboring communities. Long may this garden continue. As the Osaka Garden Committee of Sister Cities International wrote, ‘A garden develops over time….it is lasting. The same is true of the relationships between people, nations and cultures. Every gardener knows that quiet observation and attention to nature facilitate the success of a garden. Likewise, peace and understanding facilitate our future’.”
On a personal note: This area of Chicago holds many memories for both my husband and me. Bill attended the University of Chicago in the mid-1950s. For me as a youngster living in Michigan, a trip to the Museum of Science and Industry was a really big deal. On this trip we spent the afternoon at the Museum until closing then were met by Osaka Garden docent Sonia Cooke.
It was a true delight to be in her presence wandering from the museum to the bridge leading to the garden and all through every part of this lovely jewel. Her lifetime knowledge of architecture and her current enthusiasm for the garden made our visit most enjoyable. Thank you Sonia. And thank you Robert Karr and William Florida of the Friends of the Japanese Garden for putting us together.
Thank you Gary Ossewaarde for permission to quote from your extensive history. For those who wish more information, please look at http://www.hydepark.org/parks/osaka2.htm#history
Photos not otherwise credited in this blog are by K.T. Cannon-Eger. To see a full size image, click on any photo. Comments on this and other articles are welcome.
Frank Lloyd Wright and the Chicago World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893
from Frank Lloyd Wright: A Biography by Meryle Secrest, published by The University of Chicago Press in 1992, pages 185-187
“Most writers agree that Wright’s interest in Japanese art probably began with the Chicago World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893, if not before — one recalls that, as a member of [Louis] Sullivan’s office, he would have had detailed knowledge of the advance planning — and, in particular, with one of the most popular exhibits, “The Ho-o-den,” a wooden temple of the Fujiwara Period, which the Japanese government erected on a small plot of ground set in an artificial lake. It was the first real introduction of Japanese art and architecture to the Middle West. In terms of the enormous interest in all things Japanese that had followed Commodore Matthew C. Perry’s trip to Japan in 1845, this discovery must be considered rather late. Bronzes, lacquers, fans, ceramics, and above all, prints had been flooding to Europe for twenty or thirty years, and artists as disparate as Redon and Steinlen had drawn new inspiration from these exotic and unfamiliar objects, seizing on the lessons they had to teach as a way to revitalize their imagery.
“Architects were just as susceptible and, after the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition of 1876, where Japanese pavilions had been built, and especially after publication of the first English-language book on Japanese architecture in 1886, they focused their attention on this aspect of Japanese culture. For Americans oriented toward the Arts and Crafts Movement, Japan offered ‘the example of an indigenous culture that embodied the organic quality they found in the middle ages,’ as Richard Guy Wilson wrote. He added, ‘Japanese motifs from curved gable ends to nearly wholesale replication of pagodas and torii gates, appeared in Arts and Crafts houses and bungalows from coast to coast.’ One believes Wright’s new interest to have been at least partly connected with the exhaustion White had noticed and remarked upon just before his employer left for Japan [in 1905]. It began the year before, White wrote, when Wright seemed very ‘petered out.’ However, in the last three months it had been impossible to get Wright to give his office any attention at all. In fact, Wright had been confined to bed for several weeks that winter with a case of tonsillitis that had made its way around the family. He returned from Japan in May sounding more like his old self. … His interest was entirely genuine and his visit would have a lasting influence.
“Several writers claim to see a more or less direct connection between the Japanese temple that Wright saw at the World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893 and some of his own buildings. Vincent Scully demonstrated that the treatment of exteriors in the Willits house resembled those of the Ho-o-den, and Wright’s use of light-colored stucco panels edged with bands of darker wood seemed to suggest Japanese models as well. Scully published copies of the two floor plans to support his assertion that the house Wright designed for Willits was modeled almost exactly on that of the Japanese shrine. Another authority on Wright believed he had been most influenced by the Japanese print, and he had certainly begun to collect ukiyo-e (pictures of the floating world) sometime before his first visit to Japan, because photographs of his interiors showed such prints prominently displayed. He returned from Japan with over two hundred woodcuts by Hiroshige, considered the artist to have had the greatest influence on the West, and lent them to the Art Institute of Chicago a year later for the first ukiyo-e exhibition to be held in that museum. He bought them as investments, making no bones about being a dealer, and was so successful that he had a sizable collection of Japanese prints on hand all his life, to be cashed in when necessary, and some famous collectors as clients. But he was also passionately interested in the subject, almost obsessed, and would talk endlessly about the exquisite qualities of these prints, their serenity, simplicity, sense of the natural world and reduction to essentials. While on that first trip he wore native robes and took extended trips into the interior to collect his prints and porcelains. All of this indicates that the feelings aroused by Japanese art were wholehearted, yet there is a suggestion that, at some level, Wright was made acutely uncomfortable by that most conformist, ordered and rigidly circumscribed culture that he apparently admired for its spirituality.”
Wright returned to Japan for many months during the years 1916 to 1922 building not only the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo but also residences such as that for Aisaku Hayashi in 1917.