Berkeley

Stones at UC-Berkeley Japanese pond date back to 1939 World’s Fair on Treasure Island

Treasure Island 1939

Placement of the stones in the Japanese garden at the Golden Gate International Exposition on Treasure Island was designed by Kaneji Domoto, who later oversaw moving the stones to UC Berkeley for the Japanese pond in the botanic garden.
(Photo reproduced courtesy of the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles, donated by Francis and Gloria Massimo) The Exposition was held in 1939, the same year Domoto worked on another garden in New York for an exposition there.

[the following quoted information on Kaneji Domoto is excerpted from the Taliesin Fellows newsletter #12 July 15, 2003]

Kaneji (known as Kan) Domoto was born on November 5, 1913 in Oakland California, the eighth of eleven children. At the family nursery in Hayward, he learned to propagate camellias and peonies for which his nurseryman father had become famous.

“Domoto attended Stanford University studying science and physics, and played on the soccer team. He also studied landscape architecture at the University of California in Berkeley.

“He apprenticed at Taliesin in 1939 and began his career as architect and landscape architect in California. He came east to assist in the creation of the Japanese exhibit for the New York World’s Fair following work for the San Francisco Treasure Island Fair.”

With the advent of World War II, Domoto was interned with his wife, Sally Fujii, at Granada War Relocation Center [also known as Camp Amache] Colorado. At the end of the war, they moved to New Rochelle, NY with their children, Mikiko and Anyo. Later two more children, Katherine and Kristine, were born in New Rochelle, NY, where he made his home for many years. Domoto died January 27, 2002.

“Domoto had a long and productive career in architecture and landscape design. He designed several homes at the famous Frank Lloyd Wright Usonia homes development at Pleasantville, NY. He designed landscapes for residential and commercial projects, mainly in Westchester County but also in surrounding northeastern states. He became noted for his use of huge stones and rocks in his well-known Japanese-American gardens at the New York World’s Fair Japanese Exhibit, in Berkeley, California, Jackson Park, Chicago, and Columbus, Ohio.

“His career produced more than 700 projects, and Domoto received many awards for his work, including the Frederick Law Olmsted Award for his Jackson Park design. He donated many hours to local and national civic associations throughout his career.

“His wife, Sally, died in 1978, and his second wife, Sylvia Schur, survives him [at the time this was written in 2003]. He leaves 4 children, 6 grandchildren and 1 great granddaughter, 2 sisters, and a number of nieces and nephews.”

The Golden Gate International Exposition on Treasure Island celebrated the opening of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay (Bay Bridge) Bridge in 1936, as well as the opening of the Golden Gate Bridge in 1937.

Domoto also published a book on bonsai. His brother Toichi Domoto remained in California with the nursery business and is featured in oral histories in the UC-Berkeley collection on the growth of the California landscape industry.

The area of the Japanese pond in the botanic garden on campus is known as Strawberry Creek. According to director Paul Licht, the area was a dairy before becoming a pond.

(photo by Bill F. Eger)

(photo by Bill F. Eger)

Work on the Japanese garden began in November 1941. Immediately after Pearl Harbor, the stones and lantern were moved to a warehouse for safekeeping and the garden was not completed until after the war ended.

Elaine Sedlack shows the gate

Elaine Sedlack shows the donated gate at the UC-Berkeley pathway to the Japanese pond. Sedlack laid the pathway stones that go through the gate built by Paul Biscoe. Retaining wall stone masonry was by Shigeru Namba.

Curator Elaine Sedlack has gardened since 1969 and has been with the Asian collection since 1984. She is active in international plant societies including maples and rhododendrons. Sedlack noted that a flood in 1965 brought a lot of mud down the slope and that the lantern was damaged at that time.

Over the years, many improvements and additions have been made. Shigeru Namba, a stone mason from Osaka living in California, built retaining walls around the gate built by woodworker Paul Biscoe. Namba, his wife Sakiko and their two year old daughter drove in from Woodside to set a lantern obtained in Japan by landscape architect Ron Herman.

The gate and the lantern honor the involvement of two stalwarts of Berkeley’s Japanese-American community: artist Chiura Obata and ikebana teacher Haruko Obata, his wife.

plaque

a dedication plaque inside the gate honors two long-time garden activists
(photo by Bill F. Eger)

photo-005

The lantern is dedicated to Haruko Obata for her contributions to the art of flower arranging. As early as the 1915 exposition in San Francisco, her work was important enough to warrant an entire room for display.

“To my thinking there is no great art without Nature.” Chiura Obata (1885-1975)

Chiura Obata (1885-1975) was born in Japan and came to California in 1903. A master in the traditional Japanese sumi ink and brush technique, he also excelled in art education and taught at the University of California, Berkeley from 1932 until 1954, except for the years of internment. Many works were published in the book Obata’s Yosemite (Yosemite Association, 1993).

In 1932, Obata began his teaching career at the University of California. For watercolor painting, he gave his students the traditional Japanese materials: the brush, ink of pine soot, colors from vegetable and mineral pigments, and silk and paper as media. In 1938, Time magazine called Obata “one of the most accomplished artists in the West.” Known for defining the nihonga style of painting—a technique that blends Japanese traditional ink painting with Western methods—Obata influenced a generation of artists who were part of the California Watercolor Movement in the 1920s and ’30s.

His popular classes were interrupted by evacuation first to Tanforan and then to Topaz internment camp in Utah in 1942. Even under these conditions, Obata painted prolifically and organized art schools in the camps with as many as 650 students from the internees.

His granddaughter Kimi Kodani Hill notes, “His experience of knowing nature consoled and inspired him,” Hill says. “He always told his students at the camp ‘don’t just look at the dust on the ground, look beyond.’” Hill is editor of Topaz Moon: Chiura Obata’s Art of the Internment, with an introduction by Timothy Anglin Burgard and foreword by Ruth Asawa.

ChiuraObata-001

Smithsonian exhibit, A More Perfect Union: Japanese Americans and the U.S. Constitution: “All the families did some gardening about their dwellings in order to beautify them. Everything had to be brought in from the mountains, rocks, trees and shrubs.” Chiura Obata about the garden outside the family quarters at Topaz; illustration used with permission from the family.

He returned to the University of California in 1945 and resumed his faculty position. Former University President Gordon Sproul and several students had kept many artworks safe during the war and returned them to Obata. He traveled extensively as he lectured, sketched, painted, and gave one-man exhibitions at major galleries and museums.

In 1965, Obata received the Kungoto Zuihosho Medal, an Imperial honor and accolade, for promoting goodwill and understanding between the United States and Japan.

From 1954 to 1972 Obata was a tour director, taking Americans on regular visits to renowned gardens, temples, and art treasures in Japan. Students continued to gather at his Berkeley home on Ellsworth Avenue to study painting.

Their studio on Telegraph Avenue was voted a landmark in 2009 by the Berkeley Landmarks Preservation Commission.

“As most of us in California know, the need for uncovering Japanese-American history—the reason it is hidden in our communities—is that the U.S. government made a heinous error in the anxious time at the onset of World War II,” social historian Donna Graves told The Berkeley Daily Planet. Graves nominated the Obata Studio for landmark status, “Federal policy dictated that people of Japanese descent, whether they were American citizens or not, were forced to leave their communities, homes, and businesses in the spring of 1942 and incarcerated in remote concentration camps behind barbed wire and under armed guard. This act, which was not perpetrated on people of German or Italian descent, irreparably harmed communities that Japanese-Americans had built in cities like Berkeley and across California. This is a story we Americans must remember, and it is part of what inspired the landmark application.”

Graves heads Preserving California’s Japantowns, a statewide survey of pre-World War II Japanese-American historic resources. Funded by the California State Libraries, the project has identified hundreds of locations in nearly 50 cities from San Diego to Marysville.

For more information on the University of California Botanical Garden at Berkeley, to plan a visit there, or to find out about classes and plant sales, visit the web site http://botanicalgarden.berkeley.edu/

To see any photo in this article full size, click on the image. Unless otherwise noted in captions, photos are by K.T. Cannon-Eger. Please be nice and do not copy without permission and attribution.

Comments are welcome. All comments will be read and approved before they appear.

 

 

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a taste of what’s to come

Still writing when I should be packing … we’re off on another adventure to visit gardens, this time on the east coast.

entryway to Kyoto Gardens at the Hilton DoubleTree in Los Angeles

entryway to Kyoto Gardens at the Hilton DoubleTree in Los Angeles

But I am three states and several gardens behind in posting where we have been!

So here is a little preview of what is yet to be posted. Now to that packing!

Elaine shows the donated gate at the UC-Berkeley pathway to the Japanese pond.

Elaine shows the donated gate at the UC-Berkeley pathway to the Japanese pond.

photo by Bill F. Eger

Lake Merritt in Oakland, CA
photo by Bill F. Eger

the entry to a private residential garden in Orinda, California photo by Bill F. Eger

the entry to a private residential garden in Orinda, California
photo by Bill F. Eger

The Japanese Tea Garden in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park dates back to 1894. photo by Bill F. Eger

The Japanese Tea Garden in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park dates back to 1894.
photo by Bill F. Eger

The Japanese Friendship Garden at San Diego's Balboa Park is completing expansion work to be ready for the park's centennial in 2015. photo by Bill F. Eger

The Japanese Friendship Garden at San Diego’s Balboa Park is completing expansion work to be ready for the park’s centennial in 2015.
photo by Bill F. Eger

Any photographs not otherwise credited are by K.T. Cannon-Eger. If you borrow, be nice and give credit.

Comments are welcome on this and other posts in this blog.

Categories: Berkeley, California, Los Angeles, Oakland, San Francisco | Leave a comment

Berkeley Higashi Honganji Buddhist Temple garden evolved

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.

Berkeley Higashi Honganji Buddhist Temple

Built in the 1930s, the Berkeley Higashi Honganji Buddhist Temple now serves a diverse congregation.
(photo by Bill F. Eger)

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.

Berkeley sangha member

Dick Fujii tells K.T. Cannon-Eger about the history of the temple.(photo by Bill F. Eger) 

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.

evergreen by front gate

Carefully shaped, the evergreen hugs the top of the front fence adjacent to the gate.
(photo by Bill F. Eger)

“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.”

Berkeley Higashi Honganji

The front garden replaced a lawn on the occasion of the temple’s 60th anniversary.
(photo by Bill F. Eger)

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.

pine tree

The pine tree at the left side of the yard is close to 100 years old.

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.

espalier

Espaliered camellia bushes line the minister’s residence and the driveway between the home and temple. The social hall and classroom building is visible at the end of the driveway.

Higashi Honganji doorway detail

detail of the doorway

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.


			
Categories: Berkeley, California | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

The trip West continues

A more extensive article on Chicago’s Osaka Garden at Jackson Park will be posted soon. By 2013, the garden was re-named The Garden of the Phoenix.

Osaka Garden pond and bridge

Osaka Garden pond

Osaka Garden at Jackson Park in Chicago dates from the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition. It was recently renewed due to the efforts of an active Friends group with the expertise and guidance of Sadafumi Uchiyama and the cooperation of the Chicago Parks Department.

Meanwhile, here are a few photos from the rest of the journey from Chicago to Denver to San Francisco by train.

Here, we have included images from gardens in Chicago, Denver, Grand Junction, Berkeley, Oakland, Orinda and San Francisco to give you a little taste of the articles still to come.

Denver pond

Looking in one direction, Shofu-en displays one of the inspirations for its name — “Garden of the Pines and Wind.”

Denver Shofu-en

Looking across the pond in another direction, one could feel transported to similar gardens in urban Japan. The residents of the nearby condos must enjoy a beautiful view.

Grand Junction

Entry to the Japanese garden in Grand Junction, Colorado, is through a conservatory with plants familiar to many in Hawaii and other tropical regions.

Berkeley Botanic

This is a small section of the pond in the Japanese garden at UC-Berkeley Botanical Garden. Iris were in bloom throughout our journey in June.

Higashi Hongwanji

The Higashi Hongwanji in Berkeley (www.bonbu.com) has an elegant entry garden maintained in part with the assistance of the Aesthetic Pruners Association.

Oakland

Every detail matters — and here a relatively new stone appears to have been in place for hundreds of years due to the lichen.

borrowed scenery

The living room is arranged to take full advantage of the garden in this private residence in northern California.

WF entry

A rooftop corporate garden in San Francisco, created some years ago, was completely redone recently to address engineering problems that developed over the years. This is a small detail of an area separating the entry door, which leads to the garden, from a walkway that goes around the roof.
(photo by Bill F. Eger)

San Francisco
Ginkgo leaves near the 1915 pagoda at the San Francisco Japanese Tea Garden

To see a full size version of any photograph in this blog, just click on the image.

Categories: Berkeley, California, Chicago, Colorado, Denver, Grand Junction, Illinois, Oakland, San Francisco | Tags: , | Leave a comment

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