Posts Tagged With: pine

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 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.


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.

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Yakumo Nihon Teien in City Park, New Orleans

Michael Mitchell, the new president of the Japanese Garden Foundation of New Orleans and his wife Tina graciously served as our guides to Yakumo Nihon Teien, the Japanese garden in City Park designed by Robin Tanner.

“In a Japanese Garden”
By Lafcadio Hearn

“No effort to create an impossible or pure ideal landscape is made in the Japanese Garden. Its artistic purpose is to copy faithfully the veritable landscape, and to convey the real impression that a real landscape communicates. It is therefore at once a picture and a poem; perhaps even more a poem than a picture. For as nature’s scenery, in its varying aspects, affects us with sensations of joy or solemnity, of grimness or of sweetness, of force or of peace, so must the true reflection of it in the labor of the landscape gardener create not merely an impression of beauty, but a mood in the soul.”

Excerpted from:
The Atlantic Monthly
Volume 70, Issue 417
July 1892

Lafcadio Hearn (Koizumi Yakumo) and his wife Koizumi Setsu

In the midst of 1,300 acres in New Orleans’ City Park is Yakumo Nihon Teien, a garden that celebrates an important connection between New Orleans and her sister city Matsue City in Japan. Yakumo refers to Lafcadio Hearn, a writer who lived in New Orleans from 1877 to 1886 and whose house on Cleveland Avenue remains a registered historic place. In writing about New Orleans, Hearn brought to national attention the city’s Creole population and distinctive cuisine, Louisiana voodoo, and the French Opera.

Hern was sent to Japan in 1890 as a newspaper correspondent. During the summer of 1890, he obtained a teaching position at a middle school in Matsue, a town in Shimane Prefecture in western Japan on the seacoast. During the 15 months there, he married Koizumi Setsu. Late the following year, he obtained another teaching position in Kumamoto and during the next three years completed Glimpses of Unfamiliar Japan.

In 1896 after accepting a position teaching English literature at Tokyo Imperial University, he became a naturalized Japanese citizen and assumed the name Koizumi Yakumo. He continued teaching and writing in Japan until shortly before his untimely death at the age of 54 in 1904. He is considered a national treasure in Japan.

There are other Japan-New Orleans connections. “The first Japanese consulate outside of New York was in New Orleans starting in the 1920s. After Hurricane Katrina, it moved to Nashville,” said Mike Mitchell, new president of the Japanese Garden Foundation.

Barrier-free access is along this entry with a carefully pruned bamboo thicket.

The dream of the Japanese Garden Foundation of New Orleans, starting back in1985, came into being with the opening dedication of the first increment of this garden in July 2005. When Hurricane Katrina hit a month later, everything was under more than a foot of water and many of the plants were lost in the flood. Major stonework and other physical elements sustained no major damage and the garden was quickly restored with the addition of a machiai, a small structure with a bench that offers a wonderful view. The garden had a grand re-opening in 2007.

view from a bench in the machiai

The garden was recently expanded, doubling its size. A wisteria arbor, stone pathways, and more fencing were added. Another expansion is hoped for in the future when an adjacent park administration building relocates to new quarters. “Future expansion would allow for a water feature,” Mitchell said.

“It’s not a big and splashy garden,” Mitchell said. “It’s contemplative.

Significant stones used in this garden were selected at the quarry in Tennessee and hauled by landscape architect Robin Tanner.

Robin Tanner, garden designer, is now at work on a book outlining the peaceful, contemplative nature of gardens.

“We couldn’t make this as beautiful as it is without the help of dedicated volunteers,” Mitchell said. “Daily maintenance is the key.”

Bill and I are so often wrapped up in “getting the story” and “framing the photo.” It’s important for us to sit still and enjoy the surroundings. Many thanks again and again to Mike and Tina for making that possible.

photo by Tina Mitchell

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Atlanta Botanical Garden

The Japanese garden now incorporated in the 30-acre Atlanta Botanical Garden predates ABG by many years. It is the oldest part of ABG. A small sign inside the entry path notes the Japanese garden is undergoing renovation.

The Japanese Garden Research Network notes that pruned pines in this garden are Virginia pines, Pinus virginian. Maple, azalea, bamboo, and iris are among many plants inside and adjacent to this small walled garden.

The July 2011 issue of Southern Living contained an article on the entire ABG and 2010 expansion that doubled its area to the present size.

Moon gate just outside the Japanese garden at Atlanta Botanical Garden with a pruned pine to the right of this photo. A small lantern tucked into the greenery at the beginning of this path is featured later in this post.


Perpendicular to and beyond the Moon Gate to its right is another entry. This view shows two of the three walls (at the right) enclosing the garden.

Inside the walls, a waterfall and stream course by blooming iris and clipped azalea then pass under a small curved stone bridge.

Some of the recently completed renovations…

a small lantern tucked in to the greenery near the entry path leading to the Moon Gate

maple near the machiai

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The Grand Hyatt Atlanta in Buckhead

Walk through the gleaming brass doors, held open by a genuinely friendly staff member, and the first thing that will catch your eye is the three story waterfall designed by Takeo Uesugi of TUA Inc. I perused the landscape architect’s site before coming here to Atlanta. You may see more of Mr. Uesugi’s work at especially in the portfolio section of the site. A little more detail on Mr. Uesugi’s life and work is available in a Wikipedia article:

We first became acquainted at the International Conference on Japanese Gardens Outside of Japan held in Long Beach, California, in March 2009. I have seen Mr. Uesugi’s work in Long Beach, San Diego, Pasadena, Los Angeles, and Malibu, but this was my first visit to one of his garden designs outside of California. This garden opened with the hotel in 1990 when it was the Hotel Nikko. Hyatt purchased the property in 1997 and put $5.6 million in to renovations in 2000.

The waterfall at the Grand Hyatt Atlanta is visible from the lobby, the Onyx Bar, the Cassis restaurant on a level lower than the lobby, from windows in a hallway connecting the elevators on the third floor to the pool area, from the pool area and a veranda outside the elevator area on the third floor and from several rooms facing that side of the hotel. It drops from a flat area that includes a small garden with several typical features: trimmed shrubs, tsukubai, bamboo thicket, machiai, dry  stream bed, and well arranged stone work.

The waterfall cascades from the third floor pool level, divides in two and lands in a pool with a rock beach on a small island with a maple and a lantern set in the pond. The pond is surrounded by plantings of pine, azalea and bamboo.

View from the third floor veranda at the top of the falls, looking toward the table from which the previous image was taken.

The view immediately to the right of the previous image: The third floor veranda leads to one entry to the small garden. The other entry is from the pool side refreshment area.

Update 2016: It is with deep sadness that we report Takeo Uesugi died 26 January 2016 at his home in California following a battle with cancer. He was 75 years of age. A link to an obituary in the Los Angeles Times listing his many achievements follows. Our heartfelt condolences to his family and coworkers.

Categories: Atlanta, Georgia | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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