Posts Tagged With: Sister City

Sasebo in Albuquerque’s BioPark

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lantern at the entry to Sasebo

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site map — the Japanese garden is at the top, center, of the map

A small train loops through the very large ABQ BioPark. One of its stops is outside the Japanese garden.

Sasebo is a four-acre Japanese garden built to honor one of Albuquerque’s Sister Cities.

Sasebo opened in September 2007. It was designed by Toru Tanaka, founder of the Portland Landscape Design and Japanese Garden Specialty.

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bench carved from a fallen log

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view over a staff access gate to the waterfall

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the waterfall from the far side of the pond

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an interior path crosses a small stream

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another type of path to cross a stream

Two types of fence, one provides shade for a utility building and the other marks the boundary between the garden interior and the welcoming plaza and bell tower.

Photographs otherwise not credited are by K.T. Cannon-Eger Comments and sharing are welcome. Should you share an article or photo, please be nice and give credit. Please do not waste your time trying to post spam comments. All comments are reviewed before posting.

More information and hours of docent led tours are available on the ABQ BioPark web site.

https://www.cabq.gov/culturalservices/biopark/garden/exhibits/japanese-garden

Categories: Albuquerque, New Mexico | Tags: , | Leave a comment

1893 garden in Chicago continues to provide respite, tranquility and beauty

[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 1893

Looking southeast from the Illinois Building on the 1893 fair grounds, a bridge led to Wooded Island, a peaceful retreat for fairgoers amid 200 buildings constructed for the six-month fair. The present Osaka Garden site is in the wooded area to the left of the Ho-o-den buildings.
photo from The World’s Columbian Exposition: The Chicago World’s Fair of 1893, the White City Artfolio

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:

Osaka Garden

The red pin marks an approximate location for Osaka Garden on Wooded Island in Jackson Park on the south side of the Museum of Science and Industry. It is easily reached by bus or car.
(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’.

entry bridge

Another view of the Ho-o-den on Wooded Island at the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair.
(Dream City: A Portfolio of Photographic Views of the World’s Columbian Exposition)

“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.”

north end of Osaka Garden

The Palace of Fine Arts for the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition is now the Museum of Science and Industry.
(photo by Bill F. Eger)

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.

The Noh Stage style pavilion will serve as a gathering spot for cultural displays and presentations. It is located on the same spot as the 1933 tea house. The waterfall offers several points from which to view cascading water. A flat rock crossing below the waterfall offers an even closer view.
(photo by Bill F. Eger)

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.”

Osaka Garden pond

Pine, bridge and stones — all carefully placed — are reflected in the surface of the pond below the waterfall (behind and to the right of this point of view).

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.

Osaka Garden gate

Text of the sign reads: “The Osaka Japanese Garden is a culturally authentic site, designed to create a feeling of peace and tranquility. Please stay on the paths and refrain from activities that will disrupt the special experience for other patrons. Your pets are welcome if they remain leashed and you pick up after them. Thank you for your cooperation.”
(photo by Bill F. Eger)

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.

Osaka Garden pond detail

Stone from Wisconsin was chosen to augment stone already in the garden.

“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.”

Osaka Garden lantern

This lantern may date back to the 1893 fair.
(photo by Bill F. Eger)

“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’.”

Osaka Garden sign

A waterproof box under a sign pointing the way to the entry bridge holds a history of Wooded Island and a guide to trees planted along the entire island’s paths.

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

Osaka Garden bridge

On the list for repair is this traditional arched bridge.
(photo by Bill F. Eger)

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.

Categories: Chicago, Illinois | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Seiwa-en — Garden of pure, clear harmony and peace in St. Louis

2014 Note: 2013 winter renovations in the Japanese garden were completed and the garden re-opened in the spring on 2014. To view some of the work accomplished please view the garden’s Flicker site.

Boat Landing under construction

 

 

pagoda visible from Magnolia Avenue, plaque at the left side of the base reads “In Loving Memory Edwin L. Lopata 1909-1998
The Lopata Family”
(photo by Bill F. Eger)

Our photographer friend drove us along Magnolia Avenue where we peeked over the fence to the edge of the Japanese garden at the Missouri Botanical Garden. Beautifully trimmed trees accented the drive from there along Alfred Avenue to the main parking area.

inside the Climatron, we watch the rain pour down

We arrived at the appointed time and so did a massive Midwestern thunderstorm complete with heavy rain that drove us into the Climatron and with lightening strikes that sounded very close. We all agreed to postpone our scheduled tour of the Japanese garden for a few hours. It was a somewhat tense few hours as we waited for the storm to pass. This is a big garden and we didn’t want to miss out. It was as close as we came to getting rained out on this heavily scheduled month long garden adventure.

Upon our return in the early afternoon, I asked a worker driving an electric maintenance cart where we might find Teresa Pafford.

“You mean Teresa in the Trees?”

Well, that nickname makes sense to me. Teresa and I got to know each other during the 6th International Symposium on Japanese Gardening in San Diego during a black pine pruning class. But this gentleman was referring to her delight in getting up inside big trees and pruning them properly. It turns out that the trees I noticed as we drove along the first couple of blocks of Alfred Avenue are among trees in Teresa’s care.

Teresa shows K.T. a large piece of tree bark that came down in the storm.
(photo by Bill F. Eger)

As described on the Missouri Botanical Garden web site. “Teresa Pafford started working at the Missouri Botanical Garden in June 2003 as a gardener after graduating from Truman State University with a B.S in Agricultural Business. Most of her horticulture knowledge has been acquired here at the Garden from many experts and through conferences and seminars. She took a strong interest in trees, shrubs, and pruning within her first couple years of working at the Garden, which led her to arborist certification through the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA). She is now one of the primary tree climbers/pruners on Garden grounds. Her pruning mentor was and still is Ben Chu, who helped guide her through Japanese style pruning. One of her favorite things about pruning is seeing the results over time, whether it’s something as simple as seeing a wound callus over properly or something as advanced as training a branch to grow a certain direction. She truly is addicted to pruning.”

a waterfall leads to a stream
(photo by Bill F. Eger)

Her mentor, Ben Chu, joined Missouri Botanical Garden in 1982 after completing his education in Horticulture at St. Louis Community College at Meramec and working for a tree service company from 1978 to 1982.

and the stream meanders
(photo by Bill F. Eger)

“At Missouri Botanical Garden he worked in landscape construction doing site preparation and planting large trees and shrubs for the Ridgway Building plantings, the Rhododendron Garden, and Swift Vista near the Linnean House,” as the Missouri Botanical Garden web site describes him.

the stream meanders past a gravel river bank and a touch of color
(photo by Bill F. Eger)

“In 1985 Chu became the supervisor of Seiwa-en and worked with its designer, the late Koichi Kawana. He currently supervises a staff of nine full-time horticulturists, including three staff members in the Japanese Garden, and six additional staff members in other parts of the Garden. Ben encourages his staff to design and implement their own designs and helps to evaluate the results. He wants their jobs to include learning opportunities.”

and the stream empties into the large reflecting pond with an island that holds a tea house for special occasions
(photo by Bill F. Eger)

This year, Chu was awarded the Foreign Minister’s Commendation from the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, recognizing his outstanding contributions to Japan-U.S. relations. The award was presented during a sakura planting ceremony in April, which marked the 100th anniversary of plantings at the Tidal Basin in Washington DC and the gift of 20 new cherry trees to Missouri Botanical Garden.

karesansui and display area for fall chrysanthemums
(photo by Bill F. Eger)

Seiwa-en at Missouri Botanical Garden

Seiwa-en began as the dream of the Japanese American Citizens’ League in St. Louis in 1972. JACL secured the services of garden designer Koichi Kawana who supervised construction and development until his death in 1990. Seiwa-en was dedicated on May 5, 1977. Kawana was born in Hokkaido in 1930. He became a naturalized American citizen in 1971.

secluded path in to rustic tea house
(photo by Bill F. Eger)

Kawana was a professor and lecturer on Japanese landscape architecture, Japanese art and environmental design at UCLA for 24 years. He is credited with major garden designs in several U.S. cities including Chicago and Denver.

a gift of Nagano to Missouri
(photo by Bill F. Eger)

A four and a half mat tea house was donated byMissouri’s Sister State Nagano. Nearby is a yukimi-doro, snow viewing lantern donated by St. Louis’ Sister City Suwa.

To see a satellite view of the Missouri Botanical Garden and the ponds of the Japanese garden, go to

http://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&tab=wl

Iris were donated by Adolph Vogt, a respected hybridizer of Japanese iris of Louisville, Kentucky, who passed away in 1992.

iris by the zig zag bridge

view of the zig zag bridge for seeing blooming iris up close as seen from across the pond

Using this modern view, it’s easy to spot the round stone beach, zig zag bridge and iris plantings, several karesansui, the foliage of the plum viewing area, bridges and paths leading to the tea house, even the wavy line of the lotus plantings at one end of the pond.

For a more extensive article on Seiwa-en, visit the Missouri Botanical Garden web site:

http://www.mobot.org/hort/gardens/japanese/intro/index.shtml

color and texture surround a lantern
(photo by Bill F. Eger)

The land now known as Missouri Botanical Garden started as the estate of retired businessman turned horticulturalist and philanthropist, Henry Shaw.

Born in Sheffield England in 1800, Shaw joined his father’s business making and selling iron and steel products. When a shipment of goods to New Orleans went astray in 1819, Henry traveled to the United States, located the missing products and, not finding buyers in New Orleans, took a paddle wheel steamer up the Mississippi to a small French village barely 50 years old – St. Louis.

plum viewing pavilion
(photo by Bill F. Eger)

This was a booming time as vast territories of the Midwest were opened up just a few years earlier by the Louisiana Purchase, which nearly doubled the size of the United States. Shaw opened a hardware store and found ready customers in the trappers, settlers and pioneers heading west. He was so successful in the next 20 years that he was able to retire at the age of 40 to travel and pursue his interest in botany.

summer is the season for lotus
(photo by Bill F. Eger)

Returning from his travels to St. Louis in 1851, he engaged an architect and several botanists. He planned, funded and built what is now known as Missouri Botanical Garden on the land around his home. Among botanists he consulted were Sir William Jackson Hooker, director of the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, Dr. George Engelmann, a respected amateur botanist from St. Louis, and Asa Gray of Harvard University. Shaw’s garden was donated and opened to the public in 1859 making Missouri Botanical Garden one of the oldest botanical institutions in the United States.

across the lotus patch looking toward the plum viewing area
(photo by Bill F. Eger)

Shaw’s philanthropy included endowment of the School of Botany at Washington University and assistance in founding the Missouri Historical Society. He died in 1889 and is buried in a mausoleum on the grounds. The 79 acres of Missouri Botanical Garden include Seiwa-en, a 14 acre Japanese garden built in the pond and strolling style.

large basin at the entry of Seiwa-en

St. Louis World’s Fair of 1904

Seiwa-en was not the first public Japanese garden built in St. Louis. That distinction may belong to the three-plus acre Japanese garden at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition, more popularly known as the St. Louis World’s Fair of 1904, which opened a year late to allow for more participation by states and foreign countries. Like the World’s Columbia Exposition of 1893 in Chicago, also a year late, many of the structures were constructed to be temporary.

parts of this lantern date back to the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair
(photo by Bill F. Eger)

The Fair opened on April 30 and, through the closing ceremonies on December 1, nearly 20 million visitors availed themselves of this opportunity to see the world, revel in “palaces” dedicated to progress and have some fun. And as was true with expositions or world fairs in Philadelphia and Chicago, more people were exposed to the Japanese aesthetic presented in these collections of historic garden styles.

1904 World’s Fair Japanese garden in St. Louis
(collection of the Missouri Historical Society)

To see what the 1904 Louisiana Purchase Exposition Japanese garden looked like from the air, take this visual ride in the Ferris Wheel: http://exhibits.slpl.org/lpe/data/lpe240022874.asp?thread=240029909

details, details

Photos not otherwise credited in this blog are by K.T. Cannon-Eger. Click on any image to see it full size.

outer gate to the tea garden

A personal note: Much gratitude is due professional photographer Scott Lokitz who picked us up near Union Station and drove us around all day. There’s something wonderful about being in the company of a person who loves their town. Scott was full of special spots and history, insight and genuine delight. There’s also something inspirational about being in the company of an accomplished professional. Scott showed us his studio, a beautifully restored brick building on Russell Boulevard at Mississippi. Anyone in the St. Louis area needing a high school senior portrait, event documentation, architectural photos, etc. should consider Scott Lokitz. http://scottlokitz.com/services.html

The Sister State relationship between Nagano and Missouri

A news article from Kansas City in the Lawrence Journal-World on April 27, 1964 announced the sister state relationship between Nagano Prefecture and the state of Missouri.

http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=2199&dat=19640427&id=naZAAAAAIBAJ&sjid=_OUFAAAAIBAJ&pg=5648,2210584

A plaque outside the tea garden gate memorializes this Sister State relationship. The teahouse was dedicated on an auspicious date with a Shinto ceremony.

“The citizen of Nagano Prefecture, Japan, Sister State of Missouri, presents this teahouse to the citizen of Missouri as a memorial of the nice friendship between both states on the occasion of American Bicentennial year.”

Governor of Nagano Prefecture

Gonichiro Nishizawa

May 5, 1977

Addenda 27 August 2013

While scanning photos for a family tree at the behest of my sisters and brothers, I chanced upon a photograph from my grandfather’s trunk. His family lived in Frankfort, Kentucky. After graduating from Harvard University in 1905, he joined the U.S. Marine Corps and enjoyed a 30 year career with postings in China, Japan, Puerto Rico, Nicaragua, Washington DC and many other places.

At first glance, I thought this image might be from one of those foreign locales, but with the aid of a magnifying glass I caught English words on the buildings. With confirmation from my friend Ken Brown, a world’s fair buff if there ever was one, I now add this photo of the Japanese exhibit at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition, popularly known as the St. Louis World’s Fair of 1904.

St. Louis 1904

Kendall H. Brown, professor of Asian art history at California State University Long Beach, identified my grandfather’s photo as “the ‘dragon gate’ at the Fair Japan exhibit at St. Louis. The Japan bazaar was on the left, the restaurant on the right.”
The restaurant bears the words “Roof Garden.” Photo courtesy of the Weitzel Family archives.

For additional views and information on the fair, visit

http://exhibits.slpl.org/lpe/data/LPE240024653.asp?thread=240029396

Categories: Missouri, St. Louis | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Fort Worth garden should be seen every season

The Japanese Garden at the Fort Worth Botanic Garden is worth a return visit, in my opinion, every season of the year. Every season has its joys. The variety of plantings and styles of Japanese garden at Fort Worth offer that special kind of joy to all.

I visited two years ago in the spring, took 100 photos in an hour’s time, and have been mentioning it to my husband ever since. Our recent visit this summer, his first, entranced him as much as my first visit did me.

This seven and a half acre site was a watering hole for cattle, a gravel pit, a dump, and a squatters’ camp before Scott Fikes, former Botanic Garden director, and Charles Campbell, former director of Park and Recreation came up with and pursued the idea in the late 1960s. Kingsley Wu, a graduate of the University of Tokyo, was commissioned to finalize plans, according to a garden brochure, and construction began in 1970. After many clubs, companies and individuals put in their time, talent and treasure, the garden opened in 1973.

The resulting collection of gardens offers a pleasant stroll from the main gate through the free courtyard garden to the ticket office to the green and cool delights beyond.

The main gate was designed by Albert S. Komatsu and dedicated to Scott Fikes in 1976. The gift shop is off to the left.
(photo by Bill F. Eger)

A little history on the early designers

The main gate was designed by Albert Komatsu and Associates, an architectural firm founded in 1959 and later known as Komatsu Architecture. Alfred Komatsu was a well known, award-winning and highly respected architect in Fort Worth. He helped found the Society of American Military Engineers post in Fort Worth (SAME) and in 2011 was its oldest living founder.

The main gate was dedicated to Scott Fikes in 1976. Fikes retired in 1975 after serving 17 years as the Fort Worth Botanical Garden’s director. He served in the U.S. Army in World War II and was a member of the National Society of Landscape Architects. He passed away in 2002.

Charles Boyle Campbell was a landscape architect by training. He was 39 years old when he accepted the position in Fort Worth as director of parks in 1962. Two years later, the parks and recreation boards were merged and Campbell was named director of the new department.

“Throughout his quarter-century of service, he was a strong advocate for the creation of green space, and during his tenure, city regulations were amended to require residential developers to set aside parkland in their subdivisions. During the years he served as director, the number of parks increased from 57 parks on 2,872 acres to 163 parks with 9,923 acres,” said Susan Allen Kline in the book Images of America: Fort Worth Parks. Campbell retired in 1987 and passed away in 2006.

Steve Huddleston remarked on Kingsley Wu on the occasion of the 75th anniversary of the Fort Worth Botanic Garden: “The major project in the garden during the late ‘60s and early ‘70s was the construction of the Japanese Garden, a 7.5-acre garden that is now the crown jewel of the Fort Worth Botanic Garden. In 1968, the city employed Kingsley Wu, professor of environmental living at Texas Women’s University, to design a master plan for the Japanese Garden.  The three major pools were staked and then 454 cubic yards of concrete were poured to line the pools. A waterfall, spillways, and islands were fashioned in and around the pools.  Patterned after the Ryoan-ji in Kyoto, the meditation garden was built in 1970.”

a school group enjoys the classic karesansui
(photo by Bill F. Eger)

Among new plantings this spring are cherry trees, the gift of the Japanese Embassy to mark the centennial of Tokyo’s gift to the United States of more than 3,000 cherry trees planted at the Tidal Basin in Washington, D.C.

“The most reliable and readily available variety of flowering cherry is the ‘Kwanzan’ (Prunus serrulata ‘Kwanzan’),” says Scott Brooks, senior gardener at FWBG. He oversees the 7 ½ acre Japanese Garden there. “It’s capable of reaching 25 feet in height with branches that start out upright and then spread horizontally. It has 2-inch-wide, rose-pink flower clusters. Newly planted trees produce a good showing of flowers, although bloom improves as the trees mature.”

Another variety that does well here, Brooks says, is Yoshino (Prunus x yedoensis), the variety Japan gave to the United States in 1912. It’s a fast-growing tree that can reach more than 30 feet. Although the young trees do not produce a lot of flowers, mature trees bloom profusely.

Springtime crabapple bloom with new maple leaves near the pavilion in 2010

Brooks came to the garden in 1982 as a groundskeeper. By then many of the original trees had matured. The garden was clotted with vines and undergrowth. Tunnels had formed where the original designers had created paths.

Brooks set about the hard work of carefully uncovering what Fikes, Campbell, Komatsu and Wu had created, traveling several times to Japan. There gardeners steeped in 1,500 years of tradition taught him: “If you’re the keeper of a Japanese garden, you need to think about removing something every year,” he said.

dry stream
(photo by Bill F. Eger)

Brooks now is the senior gardener. He showed us through, with that ever watchful gardener’s eye for something amiss or out of place, and spoke of the delights and challenges of this ever changing scene.

Sister City

Nagaoka and Fort Worth have an active and dynamic Sister City relationship, celebrating 25 years this year in October. Mayor Betsy Price and Councilman Danny Scarth will lead a delegation to Nagaoka, Japan, to join in their fall festival October 2 to 12.

In the 1990s, Nagaoka, donated an authentic Mikoshi (a gilded and lacquered palanquin) to Fort Worth, which is currently on display within the Mikoshi House. Several trees, including pines and flowering cherries, were similarly donated.

Mikoshi — a gift of Sister City Nagaoka

view out the door of Mikoshi House

Mikoshi House in the spring of 2010

In 1997, Mr. Shigeichi Suzuki, a landscape architect from Nagaoka, donated plans for a karesansui-style addition to the garden.

“When I received the plans, they were in kanji and metric,” said Brooks chuckling. “That was a wonderful challenge figuring that out.”

The addition was completed in 2000, and is now called the Suzuki Garden. It is a modern counterpart to the nearby classic karesansui of the same design as the abbot’s quarters of Ryoanji in Kyoto.

Suzuki Garden
(photo by Bill F. Eger)

The tea house at the end of the pond was built as a memorial to the late Mary K. Umstead, secretary to the Horticulture Division. It was rebuilt this past year using plantation-grown ipe as a more lasting, sustainable tropical hardwood.

Mary K. Umstead Tea House, rebuilt in the past year

A new barrier free approach to the pavilion area offers visitors a closer view of the main waterfall. The Shinto-esque pavilion area offers several structures available for rental for special celebrations and weddings.

new waterfall view
(photo by Bill F. Eger)

Behind the pavilion area, a small staircase leads to a plaza. Out of view to the right is barrier free access to the same area.
(photo by Bill F. Eger)

moon-viewing platform and amphitheatre
(photo by Bill F. Eger)

“The ‘Moon-Viewing Deck’ is a creative adaptation of the Ginkakuji temple’s famous ‘Kogetsudai’ sand cone. Fort Worth’s version is intended to be an interactive karesansui exhibit, in which visitors may ascend the flat-topped cone via steps, and view the composition from above. A ‘Taijitu’ (a yin-yang symbol), lies embossed in exposed-aggregate concrete at the summit. This highly unusual (but fun) addition to a Japanese garden is ultimately a cosmological symbol of Chinese origin. It also has other interpretations, including its most important contemporary association with Korean culture, and as a metaphor for oriental mysticism in American ‘Pop’ culture. The exhibit also features an amphitheatre that is countersunk into the same platform as the cone. Together, they serve as a performance venue for the garden’s two annual festivals (matsuri), and as a moonlit chapel for weddings,” Brooks said

Paths

In all, there are nearly 6,000 linear feet of stone, brick, wood, aggregate concrete and asphalt walkways in the garden, three pools and a couple of waterfalls including a small one in the corner of the entry to the gift shop, seven crossings over water, multiple fish food dispensers, an abundance of healthy koi in the ponds and plants to occupy the eye and mind.

gift shop in the spring of 2010

gift shop in the summer 2012 — note the impact of recent drought on the pond water level
(photo by Bill F. Eger)

Treasure Tree gift shop occupies a waterside structure reminiscent of medieval Japanese architecture. The well stocked store is operated by the Fort Worth Botanical Society. Proceeds benefit the continuing development and preservation of the garden.

The garden is included in the Fort Worth Botanic Garden web site http://fwbg.org/gardens/japanese/ and maintains its own Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/pages/Fort-Worth-Japanese-Garden/168365139854742 on which Brooks has included several detailed guides to the plantings in multiple scrapbooks.

Operating hours during standard time are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily and during daylight saving time 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily except Christmas. Admission fee for adults is $4.50 on weekends or $4 on weekdays; $3 for children ages 4 to 12. Children ages 3 and under are admitted free. Unsponsored children under 13 are not admitted. One adult may sponsor 5 children.

For additional information, call (817) 871-7686.

enticing benches
(photo by Bill F. Eger)

Photos with no credit line in this blog are by K.T. Cannon-Eger. Click on any image to see it full size.

Several videos of the Fort Worth Japanese Garden are featured on YouTube. Here is a short one from the spring festival http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xqj2KIb-DQs

and a longer piece featuring spring blooms

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4FWsA2UCqUY

another featuring a summertime stroll with emphasis on the koi http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j_ysysau35U

a taiko performance of Ujigawa by Dondoko Daiko at the 2009 fall festival http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=upJ-5udVI4s

and one longer narration from winter http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0dZCKCbo378

A personal note:

There’s something really wonderful about garden friends: you speak the same language, share similar goals, and in the best of times have the same taste in movies and jokes. Scott Brooks is one of those wonderful garden friends.

We met briefly in Long Beach, California, in spring of 2009 at the International Conference on Japanese Gardens Outside Japan. A year later, I stopped off in the Dallas-Fort Worth area on my way home from my mother’s death in Florida. My cousin dropped me off at the garden gate and I began my wandering in a somber mood.

Pretty soon, I was engaged by the collection of gardens – entranced by proportions, variety and trimming of various plantings.

Scott Brooks at work in 2010

As I wandered down the right side of the garden, I noticed maintenance going on at the left side of the pond. I kept catching glimpses of this man in a black t-shirt pushing a wheelbarrow. When I finally came even with him, I asked the perennial gardener’s question, “What are you working on?” “Re-doing the water pipe to this basin,” he replied “Have you been here long?” I asked. “28 years since 1982.” “Say, you look familiar….” and when we got to Long Beach as common ground he exclaimed, “You’re that lady from Hawaii.”

forsythia near the pag

Later, as I approached the end of the path to meet up with my cousin at the gift shop, there was a splash of yellow by the pagoda – forsythia, one of my mother’s springtime favorites.

The Long Beach conference not only formed fast friendships, it led to the formation of the North American Japanese Garden Association (NAJGA). Fort Worth hosted one of the regional meetings that led the group from initiative to association.

The organization hosts a web site http://www.najga.org/cfm/index.cfm and a Facebook page. NAJGA will host Connections 2012, a conference for garden professionals and enthusiasts in Denver, Colorado, October 12 through 14 with a one-day advance design workshop on October 11. The conference is geared toward three topics every garden deals with: horticulture, human culture and business culture. Contact NAJGA for further information and to register.

pagoda designed by Albert Komatsu
(photo by Bill F. Eger)

Categories: Fort Worth, Texas | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Taniguchi’s gift to the city of Austin

The Isamu Taniguchi Garden at Zilker Botanical Garden undoubtedly has the best view of Austin, Texas.

“The best view in town” according to one garden volunteer is from the Isamu Taniguchi Garden at the Zilker Botanical Garden.
(photo by Bill F. Eger)

Many thanks are due Marion Alsup for her hospitality during our recent visit to the Taniguchi Garden at Zilker Botanical Garden in Austin, Texas. She greeted us at the train station, hung cool scarves around our necks, pressed bottles of water into our hands, plus she organized other garden personnel to meet us on site to answer additional questions . Alsup is vice president of the Austin Area Garden Center with responsibility for education and president of the Docents of Zilker Botanical Garden. She provided running commentary as we toured the winding trails.

Marian Alsup and Donna Friedenreich explain the Sister City relationship with Oita, which gave this stone gate to the garden.
(photo by Bill F. Eger)

Three acres of rugged caliche hillside were transformed into a garden in the late 1960s by Isamu Taniguchi when he was 70 years old. Working for 18 months with occasional help from two parks and recreation department staffers, Taniguchi brought forth his gift to the city of Austin first in gratitude for the education that his two sons received there and second in an aspiration for peace.

lantern at top entry to the garden
(photo by Bill F. Eger)

Taniguchi was born in Osaka, Japan. By the age of 16 he was raising bonsai. Migrating to Stockton, California in 1915, he farmed vegetables and fruit, returning to Japan only once to marry. During World War II, he and his family were interned in California and Texas. The family moved to the Rio Grande Valley at the end of the war to continue farming.

The Austin Area Garden Center and the Parks and Recreation Department could not turn down his generous offer of a garden. Working without a salary, a contract or a written plan, Taniguchi showed up for work, rain or shine, and created paths and streams, waterfalls and ponds, stone arrangements and plantings. The garden opened to the public in 1969. Taniguchi’s son Alan was Dean of the UT School of Architecture that year.

An essay by the elder Taniguchi – The Spirit of the Garden – describes not only the garden, but its builder:

“It has been my wish that through the construction of this visible garden, I might provide a symbol of universal peace. By observing the genuine peaceful nature of the garden, I believe that we should be able to knock on the door of our conscience, which once was obliged to be the slave of the animal nature in man rather than of the humanity which resides on the other side of his heart. It is my desire for the peace of mankind which has endowed this man of old age the physical health and stamina to pile stone upon stone without a day’s absence from the work for the last 18 months. It is my desire for peace of mankind which encouraged me in my voluntary labor to complete this long-dreamed gift for the city of Austin – this Oriental Garden. It is my wish that you have pleasant communion with the spirit of the garden.”

A small lantern and a hidden waterfall are part of the ponds that spell out “Austin.”
(photo by Bill F. Eger)

Several garden ponds spell out the word “Austin.”

(photo by Bill F. Eger)

A rustic wooden log Togetsu-kyo or “Bridge to Walk Over the Moon” is nearby.

The final pond holds lotus Taniguchi raised from a seed from Japan and several varieties of water lily. There is a small central island in the shape of a boat with stepping stones through the pond in the shape of the boat’s chain and anchor.

The lowest pond features a boat-shaped island with wisteria, water lilies and lotus grown by Mr. Taniguchi. The story of the lotus seed — Journey of the Third Seed — is recounted as a children’s story by Jane Scoggins Bauld.
(photo by Bill F. Eger)

Taniguchi continued to be involved with the garden leading occasional tours. He died in 1992.

Terry Ward, bonsai master and garden volunteer was present for the planting of many of the older trees in the garden. “I’ve helped train several garden staff in the art of pruning the trees.” New staffer Robert “Spider” DeVictoria came to the Taniguchi garden two and a half years ago from Brooklyn where he recalled falling in love with Japanese gardens at the botanical garden there.

Terry Ward enjoys the view from one of several comfortable benches throughout the garden.
(photo by Bill F. Eger)

There are some outstanding maples and 21 kinds of bamboo in this 3-acre garden.

Thirty different garden clubs such as the Austin Pond Society, Texas Bamboo Society, the Austin Bonsai Society, the Austin Ikebana Study Group and other associations were organized into the non-profit Austin Area Garden Center in 1955. The Austin Park and Recreation Department owns the land. The Garden Center built the building, organizes volunteers, trains docents and staffs the gift shop, according to Donna Friedenreich, president of AAGC.

The Heart O’Texas Orchid Society donated a Japanese teahouse with a view of the Austin skyline beyond the bamboo. It is named Ten-Wa-Jin (Heaven, Harmony, Man) to convey once more Taniguchi’s message that man exists in harmony with nature and that a “garden is the embodiment of the peaceful coexistence of all the elements of nature.”

Ten Wa Jin teahouse at the Taniguchi Garden
(photo by Bill F. Eger)

interior detail
(photo by Bill F. Eger)

Local materials were used in tea house construction. The bamboo society helps every year.
(photo by Bill F. Eger)

detail of roof
(photo by Bill F. Eger)

view from the teahouse
(photo by Bill F. Eger)

Stone gates flanking a newer slate path were a gift from Austin’s Sister City Oita, dedicated in November 1999 to mark the lasting friendship between the two cities.

English text is on the interior of the western gate.

“Once a year, a garden festival is held, usually during the last weekend in March. In 2013, the garden festival will be held the first weekend in April due to the Easter holiday,” said Marion Alsup, Docent Club president.

new gate at the north end
(photo by Bill F. Eger)

The garden recently received a generous donation from the Orton family, which was used to reconstruct an existing path to meet ADA requirements, adding a new gate at the north end.

detail of new gate
(photo by Bill F. Eger)

In addition, the garden receives welcome support from the Japan America Society of Greater Austin.

The city books weddings to be held in the garden and retains the revenue. Other events are partnered with AAGC and the proceeds are split. According to Friedenreich, one highly successful event funded repair of leaking ponds with Dragon Coat.

Each year, the garden hosts several hundred thousand people. Thousands of school children are reached by the Zilker Botanical Garden’s educational outreach programs and many school groups come for a visit. It was a delight to see the school children enjoying the waterfall, lanterns, niche in the stone tea house for tea cups, resident snake, and trimmed bushes all with respect and deepening calm.

One group of school children enjoyed the garden while we were there.
(photo by Bill F. Eger)

For more information on how those of you in the Austin area can support the Zilker Botanical Garden, e-mail info@zilkergarden.org or phone 512-477-8672.

Taniguchi garden at the Zilker Botanical Garden may be found at:

http://www.zilkergarden.org/gardens/japanese.html

Should you wish to view a very sweet video of the Taniguchi Garden, check out this one created a year ago by Austin Otaku.

http://vimeo.com/austinotaku/isamu-taniguchi-japanese-garden

Unless otherwise credited, photos in this blog are by K.T. Cannon-Eger. Click on any image in order to see it full size.

Categories: Austin, Texas | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Kumamoto en in San Antonio, Texas

Oribe lantern at the entrance — for more information on this type of lantern and others, check out the story on the Japanese Gardening Organization web site:
http://japanesegardening.org/lanterns/index.html

Kumamoto en, the Japanese garden at San Antonio Botanical Garden, is a small polished gem set amid 33 acres of living museum. Enclosed by four bamboo walls, the garden presents a series of scenes reminiscent of famous gardens in Japan.

Approaching the entry to Kumamoto en, we were struck by the detailed workmanship in the daimyo or shogun style bamboo fence. More information on how to construct such a fence is available here:
http://www.japanesegardening.org/reference/daimyo_fence.html
(photo by Bill F. Eger) 

The garden was a gift of Sister City Kumamoto and first opened in 1989. Landscapers and craftsmen from Kumamoto, Kyoto, Tokyo and San Antonio participated in its design and construction. A complete restoration was accomplished in 2005.

“Upon entering the garden, you enter a place apart from the everyday world, a safe and peaceful haven where all anger, prejudice, and worldly problems are left at the gate,” writes Don Pylant in an article on the garden and its Sister City relationship with the City of San Antonio in http://japanesegardening.org/kumamotoen/

Exquisite workmanship gives the Katsura style bamboo fence a subtle checkerboard pattern. More information on construction technique is available here:http://www.japanesegardening.org/reference/bamboo_fence.html
(photo by Bill F. Eger) 

“Kumamoto en was designed to demonstrate the beauty of authentic Japanese gardening and introduce visitors to many elements used in Japanese Gardens. It is designed to be enjoyed one scene at a time, like a scroll painting, unrolling as you stroll through,” Pylant said.

Pylant was our guide through Kumamoto En. And what a perfect person to have as a guide to this lovely garden! Although Don currently serves as Park Operations Supervisor in a different area of the City of San Antonio Park Development Division, he spent nearly 24 years working in the San Antonio Botanical Garden. His love of Japanese gardens goes back further to his time in Dallas where he was Director of Horticulture at Dallas Civic Garden Center in Fair Park. He would spend time at the nearby Fort Worth Botanical Gardens’ beautiful Japanese garden, which inspired what would become a deep appreciation of Japanese gardening and a life-long commitment.

In 1980, Don moved from Dallas back to San Antonio to become part of the brand new San Antonio Botanical Gardens, where he participated in the development of gardens, growing facilities, educational programs, and construction of a botanical conservatory.

In 1985, the Japan America Society of San Antonio was formed to foster increased understanding and cooperation between the citizens of San Antonio and the citizens of Japan. Among early efforts was the construction of a Japanese garden in San Antonio.

In 1989, the City of San Antonio and sister city, Kumamoto City in Japan, jointly agreed to construct an authentic Japanese garden in San Antonio’s botanical garden.  Don was involved in the planning and construction of this garden, working with architects in Kyoto and gardeners in Kumamoto, Kyoto and Tokyo.  Don studied under master Japanese gardener Katsuoki Kawahara, a respected craftsman known for his work in temple gardens as well as commercial and residential gardens in Japan and around the world.  Kawahara directed the team of professional gardeners selected from Kyoto, Tokyo and Kumamoto in the construction of Kumamoto En.  After the construction, Don was responsible for the care and maintenance of the garden, and worked with gardeners from Japan in the garden.

In 2001, Mr. Kyoshi Yasui of Yasui-moku Company and the architect for Kumamoto En invited Don to come to Kyoto to train under master Japanese gardeners, architects, and bamboo craftsmen.  He studied under Yasui, a respected architect nominated by the Emperor as a National Living Treasure of Japan. Don also studied under the master bamboo craftsmen at Otsuka Bamboo in Kyoto. The benefit of this training is evident in the four different bamboo walls surrounding Kumamoto en.

“All of this leads to a beautiful and authentic experience for our visitors,” Don said.

A suggestion of Mt. Aso-san, one of Kumamoto’s volcanoes, awaits the viewer to the right of the end of this pathway. An otsu-gaki or woven style bamboo fence is visible in the background along the back boundary of the garden.

Yasui asked Don to help sustain and manage the Kumamoto en. He also asked Don to take what he had learned and teach others about the benefits, methods, and enjoyment of Japanese Gardens.  In addition to continued study and demonstrations in Japanese gardening, the Japanese Gardening Organization was created with the mission of spreading the benefits of Japanese gardening for individuals, groups, communities, and society.  JGO provides educational resources to foster the exchange of culture, knowledge, appreciation and application of Japanese gardening, striving for the highest level of accurate information and resources for Japanese gardening.  It continues to grow, with its associated forum accumulating over 11,000 posts from Japanese gardeners worldwide.

Today, Don Pylant works for the City of San Antonio developing and managing the resources for more than 6,000 acres of Natural Area Parks and Edwards Aquifer Protection preserves.  He has continued to assist in the maintenance of Kumamoto En and is consultant for the Japanese Tea Gardens in Sunken Gardens, Brackenridge Park in San Antonio, Texas.  He designs and constructs Japanese gardens by request.

The Japan America Society of San Antonio continues to support the garden with annual co-sponsorship of Kumamoto en Day providing Japanese cultural, art, crafts and gardening demonstrations, along with tours of of the garden.

Don Pylant and K.T. Cannon-Eger listen to Candace Andrews explain the master plan for the botanical garden.
(photo by Bill F. Eger)

When we met at the carriage house entry to the botanical garden, Don introduced us to Candace Andrews, Director of Community Relations and Marketing for San Antonio Botanical Society, the non-profit organization chartered in 1980.

“The mission of this organization is to support the San Antonio Botanical Garden in its role of inspiring people to connect with the world of plants, and to understand the importance of plants in our lives,” Andrews said.

She spoke of the importance of volunteers to the garden, both in maintenance and as docents. The society operates the gift shop, proceeds of which support the garden. All rental proceeds and a portion of the restaurant income go toward the garden. She explained the San Antonio Botanical Garden is in the midst of master planning. Five year target is for the Society to take over from the city, privatizing the gardens.

Opened May 3, 1980 after nearly four years of construction, the San Antonio Botanical Garden is operated under the auspices of the City of San Antonio Department of Parks & Recreation. Bob Brackman has been executive director since 2006. Before accepting this position, he served for nearly 13 years as Vice President and Director of the Botanical Garden at the 55-acre Cheekwood Botanical Garden and Museum of Art in Nashville and prior to that for more than 12 years as the Director of Horticulture for the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden.

Bob Brackman, executive director, explains plans for the future of the San Antonio Botanical Garden to K.T. and Don in the azumaya completed in the 2005 renovation of Kumamoto En. K.T. is busy typing on her iPad. A kennin-ji style bamboo fence lines this side of the garden. More information on making this style is available here:
http://www.japanesegardening.org/reference/kenninji_fence.html
(photo by Bill F. Eger)

Brackman joined us at the azumaya in the garden. In his six-plus years with the San Antonio Botanical Garden, Brackman has led the completion of the Master Site Plan for the Garden. This new plan will be the framework for future development at this 38-acre botanical and educational facility. In addition, while working with the City and the Board of the Botanical Society, he has seen the approval of a new management agreement between the City and the Society which will eventually transfer the operational management of the Botanical Garden to the Society.

view across the central pond toward the azumaya in the back corner

In the midst of an extended drought, San Antonio gardens have shut off many water features. One exception to the regulations is ponds in which fish are living. My particular favorite about this pond is the stepping stones that disappear into the water.
(photo by Bill F. Eger)

A little more history of the San Antonio Botanical Garden from its web site http://www.sabot.org

“Mrs. R. R. Witt and Mrs. Joseph Murphy conceived the idea of a Botanical Garden in San Antonio in the 1940s. Together with their friends and associates, they organized the San Antonio Garden Center. Their first major effort was the development and presentation of a master plan for a public botanical garden in the late 1960s. The recommended garden site became the former Brackenridge waterworks land which was being held by the city.

“Funding for ground work began in 1970, when voters approved $265,000 in bonds for the Garden. This money, along with a grant awarded five years later by the Ewing Halsell Foundation, other contributions from organizations and individuals, and a significant grant from the Economic Development Administration helped pay for the project. Ground-breaking ceremonies were held on July 21, 1976. The official opening was May 3, 1980.

“The entire site is now known as the San Antonio Botanical Center. This includes both the 33-acre San Antonio Botanical Garden and the adjacent San Antonio Garden Center. The Garden Center is operated under contract by the non-profit Garden Center, Incorporated, although the facility is still owned and maintained by the City of San Antonio.

“Charted in 1980, the San Antonio Botanical Society is the 501 (c) (3) non-profit support organization specifically established in support of the San Antonio Botanical Garden.”

Unless otherwise credited, photos in this blog are by K.T. Cannon-Eger. To see a full size image of any photo, click on it.

detail of bench in azumaya

detail of otsugaki

detail of kennin-ji

San Antonio — Kumamoto Sister City Relationship

There are two plaques commemorating the Sister City relationship between Kumamoto in Japan and San Antonio, Texas: one from the original garden dedication in 1989 and another from the renewal in 2005. Here is the English text from both.

1989

“In the spirit of this relationship, both cities hope for eternal peace and continuing friendship between our two cities and our countries as we work together to create this Japanese garden on San Antonio soil.

“It is out desire that this garden, as a symbol of our cordial relationship, will provide an introduction to one aspect of Japanese culture, and be cherished by the peoples of both cities in years to come.”

San Antonio City Council

Henry G. Cisneros, Mayor

2005

“To honor the spirit of friendship between the Sister Cities of San Antonio USA and Kumamoto Japan, we celebrate the renewal of the Kumamoto En Japanese Garden.

“The Japanese Garden was a gift to the people of our two cities and a desire to share in each other’s culture and spirit of friendship.

“The renewal of this authentic Japanese Garden is completed in cooperation with many citizens as well as the San Antonio City Council and the Kumamoto City Council. This renewal is a symbol of the continuing friendship between our two cities and the commitment that we will work together to strengthen our relationship and foster eternal peace.”

November 19, 2005

Hon. Phil Hardberger               Hon. Seishi Kohyama

Mayor, City of San Antonio     Mayor of City of Kumamoto

Underwriters

Kumamoto Gardeners Association

San Antonio International Affairs Foundation

Toyota Motor North America Inc.

Japan America Society of San Antonio

San Antonio Botanical Society

Categories: San Antonio, Texas | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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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Birmingham Botanical Garden

Stone arrangements in Long Life Lake were done by Masaji Morai. A grove of  black bamboo is visible to the left of the bridge. To the right of the bridge is a large lantern, a gift from Hitachi in 1985

From the web site of the Birmingham Botanical Garden:

“Officially opened by the Japanese Ambassador to the United States in 1967, this 7.5-acre site is actually an interwoven collection of gardens built in the Japanese style, replete with traditional architectural and garden elements. Here you can find the tea garden, the karesansui garden with its meditative compositions of boulders set amidst a bed of raked gravel, the hill and stream garden* with features such as the Seven Virtues Waterfall, and the small stroll garden set around Long Life Lake. Casual visitors will want to study the colorful koi, relax in the lakeside rest shelter, or take a class at the cultural pavilion. Plant lovers will enjoy exploring bamboo groves, examining our growing collection of momiji – the Japanese maples – and seeing prehistoric dawn redwoods.

“Designed by Mr. Masaji “Buffy” Morai, the Japanese Gardens officially opened in 1967 and have been one of BBG’s most popular features since then. Largely through the hard work and guidance of volunteer Doug Moore, major modifications to a large part of the gardens were finalized in 1993 when the Japanese government gave it the title of Japanese Cultural Center. That important designation was made because Mr. Kazunori Tago, of Maibashi, Japan, one of the finest miyadaiku, or Japanese temple and shrine builders, created a traditional tea house here. Toshinan, whose name means, “the house where those gathered can light a wick [of understanding] in each others’ hearts”, is a 16th-century Sukiya-style tea house, made completely from materials brought from Japan and built using only traditional tools and techniques. There are fewer than a dozen such structures in the United States, and none are finer than Toshinan. An adjacent yoritsuki, or waiting hut, was also designed and built by Tago-san, completing the tea garden structures. Materials were donated by the citizens of Maibashi and additional funding was provided by the Shades Valley Council of Garden Clubs and Gardens of Inverness; the yoritsuki was dedicated in honor of Eva Woodin Gambrell. Members of the Japanese Garden Society of Alabama assist with maintenance of the tea house and in cultural and educational programming.

“The Japanese Gardens are entered through a spectacular curved-top torii, or “gate to heaven”, painted a traditional bright red. This area was renovated and the master plan updated in 1988 through funds given by the Drummond Company in memory of Elza Stewart Drummond. Down the path from the torii, a tile-capped mud wall is punctuated by the entrance to the Cultural Center: the Taylor Gate, given by Dr. Wendell Taylor, with its heavy, yet intricately joined, wooden timbers. Across the stream from the tea house sits the Japanese Cultural Pavilion, which is based on the design of a rural Japanese theater. Three sides of the pavilion are removable, facilitating seasonal open air activities like classes such as sushi-making, performances such as martial arts demonstrations, and many other aspects of Japanese culture.

“A recent update of the master plan for the Japanese Gardens was completed by Zen Associates of Sudbury, Massachusetts. The firm’s principal landscape architects, Shinichiro Abe and Peter White, have an intimate knowledge of Japanese garden design and construction, and as their company’s name suggests, it is their sole specialty.”

The new View Receiving bridge designed by Zen Associates will accommodate maintenance vehicles and is barrier free. It spans the water course, dry for several years, which is on the list for repair. The bridge marks a transition from a more tightly planted area to more open plantings.

New beds of azalea are being installed as part of that master plan. Renovations and repairs are planned throughout with perhaps the largest efforts being restoration of the watercourse and the addition of an ampitheatre behind the cultural center. New maples are being added and a walkway through the bamboo thicket is planned.

Pink hydrangea were in bloom beyond the View Receiving bridge.

The Birmingham Botanical Garden comprises 67.5 acres, 7.5 of which are the Japanese garden. The BBG is owned by the city which has an agreement with the Friends. The City handles outside reservations such as weddings. The Friends organization handles education, fundraising, capital improvements, and special events. BBG has the nation’s largest public horticulture library. The garden is open free to the public all year long.

For more on the Birmingham Botanical Garden, visit their web site:

http://www.bbgardens.org

New varieties of maple are going in on the far side of the lake.

Many thanks to Fred Spicer Jr. for the “grand tour” via golf cart and for the wealth of information shared.

When you visit this garden, be sure to stop in Leaf and Petal, the shop at the entry, for a wide variety of art, crafts, garden items and plants. There’s always news about garden tours and classes available there and on the web site.

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More on the Atlanta Botanical Garden

This information comes from Amanda Campbell, horticulturist at the Atlanta Botanical Garden.

“In the 1960s the Atlanta Bonsai Society began a Japanese Garden which was largely a collection of bonsai plants. It was a charming and restful little garden, but it was eventually vandalized and the bonsai were stolen, so the Bonsai Society gave it up. In 1980 the Japanese Garden was restored as part of the Atlanta Botanical Garden. Initially the Japanese Garden had no water, and white sand was used to form “pools”. In a 1984 renovation, water replaced the sand. In 1996-97 the garden was renovated once again by a generous gift made possible by the Bonsai Society, the Cherokee Garden Club, the Ivy Garden Club and Mrs. Ferst. The structures, including the stone wall, were designed and constructed by Toshihiro Sahara.

“The design combines several styles of traditional Japanese gardens, including elements of a hill-and-pond garden, courtyard garden and tea garden. The chozubachi stone basin is used in a purification ritual before the tea ceremony. It is placed on the ground so that one must crouch over it to rinse the hands and mouth, therefore humbling and clearing the mind.  The machiai (pronounced mah-chee-eye) or tea garden waiting bench is a place to rest, reflect, and enjoy the garden.

“The Japanese Garden is basically a monochromatic garden; nearly everything is green, with variation of texture and shading. Color is used sparingly to highlight seasonal change – irises and azaleas bloom in spring, maples change color and drop their leaves in the fall. However most of plants used are evergreen.  Reverence of nature is the guiding philosophy in Japanese gardening. The main garden primarily contains plants from Japan, while the surrounding gardens highlight interesting plants from all over Asia.

A sweetly subtle way to acknowledge a donor — the name is inscribed on a stepping stone leading to the machiai.

“A collection of harp-string nandinas, or kinshi nanten, were added during the 1997 renovation.  These rare cultivars were popular in Japan from the 1600s to the 1800s. Also of interest are a number of dwarf conifers and Japanese maples. The large pine tree is a Virginia scrub pine, Pinus virginiana. It is planted and trimmed to give the appearance of great age. Other noteworthy trees include the weeping Japanese persimmon, Diospyros kaki, in the corner, the Stewartia monadelpha against the fence, and the weeping Japanese snowbell, Styrax japonica, next to the east gate. On the right are two groupings of Equisetum hyemale, or horsetail. This prehistoric plant is related to ferns, but it is not a fern and has no leaves or fronds. It reproduces by spores and spreads underground like bamboo.

“The Moon Gate, typically a feature of Chinese Gardens, was completed in 1985. When the moon gate was built it was necessary to cut the round window in the back of the machiai because it is essential to have a vista through the gate. Twice blooming Autumn Encore azaleas have been planted here. They bloom in spring and fall.

“The large lantern at the southwest entrance (near the hydrangea garden) is over 300 years old.  It was donated by Minaminippon Broadcasting Co. in Kagoshima, Japan, Atlanta’s sister city, in 1963.”

lantern by the back gate

The horticultural staff maintains the Japanese garden, contracting out a few chores. For example, the gate to the tea house was removed and sent out to repair termite damage.

Toshihira Sahara mentioned above not only ran Architectural Woodworks in Atlanta, but also served as minister for a small Japanese congregation.

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On the road

Walking through the San Francisco airport, we noticed emblems from several Sister Cities projected on the walkway. This lotus is from Bangalore.

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