My husband Bill and I live in the Puna District of Hawaii County. In the county seat, Hilo, we are fortunate enough to have a large public park of the pond and stroll variety adjacent to Hilo Bay. Land for the garden — dedicated to Queen Lili`uokalani — was set aside in April 1917 and construction began in November of that year.

I have a deep and abiding love for Japanese gardens and visit them every chance I get. After 10 years of watching me do this in my spare time, Bill got on the bandwagon with his brand new Nikon D3x. He has a love for trains.

In May 2012, my husband Bill and I received an invitation to our eldest granddaughter’s high school graduation outside of Atlanta, Georgia. Always seeking to “make our moves count,” we began to talk about what else we could do in the mainland United States. This “epic journey,” as one of our friends calls it, is the result.

Our combined desires evolved into not only a way to celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary but also a way to be of service to the North American Japanese Garden Association, the Japanese Gardening Forum and jgarden.org for which organizations we gathered information and photographs. All of this information also is of great benefit to Hilo’s jewel of a garden, Lili`uokalani Gardens, which will celebrate a centennial from 2017 to 2019.

At the end of our first railway adventure, we began planning the next. In October 2012 we traveled to Denver for the North American Japanese Garden Association conference “Connections.” Along the way we visited gardens in San Diego, Albuquerque, Phoenix and Los Angeles.

With a family wedding in September 2013, we planned another trip — this time to the East Coast. We visited Boston, Connecticut, New York, Philadelphia and worked the itinerary to be at  Shofuso in time for the NAJGA Regional Conference. We continued to Delaware, Washington DC and Richmond, Virginia.

In September of 2014, I journeyed to Paris and London with our son and daughter-in-law to celebrate their first wedding anniversary and to visit gardens in both cities.

A month later, I traveled to the midwest to visit family and to attend the NAJGA conference in Chicago. The Japanese garden under construction in Grand Rapids, Michigan was on the list plus a work day at Garden of the Phoenix in Chicago.

Spring of 2015 found me in Kobe, Hiroshima and Kyoto enjoying the cherry blossoms.

Also in 2015 were visits to Seattle, Calgary, Lethbridge, Vancouver and Victoria, Portland Oregon, Washington DC, Chicago, Los Angeles and San Diego with more train travel.

In 2016, a trip to Japan in October for accession ceremonies for the new monshu at Nishi Hongwanji in Kyoto brought travel to several other cities.


18 thoughts on “About

  1. Hello,

    I hope this finds you well! I am writing from Chino Basin Water Conservation District, a non-profit governmental special district located in Montclair, CA. We are constructing a new Water Conservation Center and demonstration garden, currently working on garden signs to explain the various areas. A google search came up with this lovely photo from a serenity garden (here: https://usjapanesegardens.files.wordpress.com/2012/08/dscf1093.jpg?w=1024&h=768) and we are wondering if we may use it for one of our signs (appropriately, for the Serenity Garden demonstration). We would be sure to properly attribute it to you if you would like to provide the information. What do you think?

    Thanks for your help – it is much appreciated.

    All best,

    Liane Veenema

  2. Thank you Liane. Hope you have received our emails regarding your kind request. We will be happy to assist you in any way we can.

  3. Taylor Grimsley

    Hello this is Taylor from the Warrenton, Virginia, Harris Teeter. You and your husband came in this evening asking for directions to Charlettesville. Although I wasn’t much help I hope you two are finding your way! I took a look at your website and it’s very interesting and beautiful! I hope you all have a safe journey and thanks for sharing! 🙂

  4. Bill Fordes

    Lovely garden. My wife’s family is from Hilo, and we must visit the garden next trip.

    Also, just saw the Japanese garden in Portland, OR — a must see. Truly world class — in class with gardens in Kyoto and Tokyo…

    Bill Fordes
    Santa Monica CA

    • Thank you, Bill. I am on my way to Seattle and Calgary for a convention. More gardens all along the way. Portland is scheduled for later in June when we head to Washington DC.
      Many blessings,

  5. Bill Fordes

    Whatever you do, when in Portland, leave yourselves a few hours to stroll through the small Japanese garden. Only 5 acres, but truly wonderful. The rose gardens nearby are nice, too (not my cup of tea, really, but my wife loves rose gardens).

    Here in LA we have the Huntington Gardens, which are really a delight…

    • Thanks again Bill. My husband Bill and I just returned from a trip to the mainland for our son’s retirement from the Army. We went early and stopped at Portland. Truly worth a visit. How do you like The Huntington since the renovations for the centennial year?

  6. Bill Fordes

    So sorry just saw this. Love the new Huntington. Was there for several weekends for a bonsai class with the HG’s curator of bonsai, so had lunch time to stroll four weekends in a row….very very nice job….

  7. Thanks for all the effort with the website – your list of gardens and information has helped me in my own endeavor to visit as many gardens as I can. I just visited The Japanese garden at the Missouri Botanical Garden and am off to the Fort Worth garden next. Thought you might be interested in checking out my own attempts at building a Zen garden: http://japanesezengarden.blogspot.com. Its mostly my way of keeping track of what I have been doing (like a garden diary) and also a chance to share my visits to other gardens. Enjoy.

  8. I was curious if you’ve heard of my New York Time’s reviewed Japanese Garden memoir, Cutting Back–My Apprenticeship in the Gardens of Kyoto, just out this spring from Timber Press? In addition to reviews in the New York Times and Washington Post, the book got a wonderful recommendation from Sadafumi Uchiyama-one of the founding board members of NAJGA and curator of the Portland Japanese Garden. There are photos from my journey (“photo diary”), talks and classes listed at: https://www.lesliebuckauthor.com/home. Leslie Buck

  9. Hello – I stumbled on you website today while searching for materials to maintain a small, authentic Ennan teahouse here in Newport News, (Tidewater) Virginia. Would love to know more about other teahouses and of course, to have ours added on a “master” list – should there be one. You can find detailed information on our website http://www.sistercities-nn.com/enan-teahouse.html about our structure. We are trying to improve the gardens around it too. Your input is welcomed.
    Kind regards,
    – Kate

    • Thank you for your note. You may wish to join an online Forum at the web site Japanese Gardening dot Org for more detailed information from all over the world and in your own backyard.
      The URL is http://japanesegardening.org/talk/index.php
      Further, Hawaii Island enjoys ten Sister City relationships and is about to embark on an 11th. Six of our Sister Cities are in Japan.
      Lili`uokalani Gardens has been home to an Urasenke tea house since 1972. If you search for Shoroan, you will find more information. The first tea house was build toward the middle of the garden in 1972 — completion of a dream since before the garden was built starting in 1917. Unfortunately, that tea house fell to arson in 1994. The present Shoroan was built in a more accessible and visible location in 1997. Dr. Sen, the retired Grand Master, was here in July to celebrate both the 45th anniversary of Urasenke in Hilo and the 20th anniversary of Shoroan.

  10. Michael Schmicker

    Aloha usajapanese gardens
    My name is Michael Schmicker. I live in Honolulu, and am trying to find out if anyone knows where I might find photos or layout drawings of the original Japanese garden at the Bibe-a-Wee estate of Mr. CC Kennedy in Volcano? Many thanks for any tips or suggestions you can share!

    • I do not have any plans or layout drawings. Perhaps the owner previous to Mr. Evans might? Mark McNamara’s family lived at Bide-A-Wee for three generations. He lives in Honolulu.

      • Michael Schmicker

        Aloha Thanks for the information and the suggested contact. Mike Schmicker

        Sent from my iPhone


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