Posts Tagged With: Takeo Uesugi

Balboa Park planned for years to celebrate centennial

impressive entry sign on the corner across from the Spreckles Organ

impressive entry sign on the corner across from the Spreckles Organ; the cafe straight ahead provides monthly income; the entry gate is to the right of the cafe     [Bill F. Eger photo]

Takeo Uesugi and Associates plan for the garden

Takeo Uesugi and Associates plan for the garden was posted near an overlook     [Bill F. Eger photo]

red ribbon marks size of original Japanese garden; model shows expansion completed in time for centennial

red ribbon marks size of original Japanese garden; model shows size of expansion completed in time for centennial

San Diego’s civic leaders set aside 1,400 acres in 1868 for a park. It sat unused for more than 20 years until Kate Sessions stepped forward with an offer to plant 100 trees a year in the park as well as donations to other sites in San Diego. An exchange was worked out for 32 acres within the park for her commercial nursery.

After the turn of the century, a master plan was introduced, taxes levied, and a water system installed. In 1910, planning was underway for the first World’s Fair to be held on its grounds and, after months of discussion, Park Commissioners decided on renaming City Park as Balboa Park.

The Panama-California Exposition of 1915-1916 marked the first Japanese tea house within park boundaries at a different location than the present cafe.

San Diego, C.P. Expo 1914, image #5431, used with permission of SDJFG

San Diego, Panama-California Expo, image #5431, used with permission of SDJFG

The Japanese Friendship Garden of San Diego began in 1990 with a dry garden and pavilion by Ken Nakajima on about an acre and a half site between the Spreckles Organ and the Hospitality House. In 1999 a cafe and patio were added to generate revenue for the garden and a koi pond was installed.

new gate marks entry to the expanded garden

new gate marks entry to the expanded garden     [Bill F. Eger photo]

the new gate from the other side

the new gate from the other side     [Bill F. Eger photo 2012]

In 2010, ground was broken for garden expansion to nearly 11 acres including an adjacent canyon. Designed by Takeo Uesugi and Associates, the expanded garden includes huge rock waterfalls, meandering paths, traditional bridges, a culture center and cherry tree grove. Tea houses remain to be constructed.

To plan a trip to the Japanese Friendship Garden of San Diego or see the events calendar, please review the web site:

For additional information on all of Balboa Park, please contact the web site:

or for the app, text Balboa Park to 56512.

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Any otherwise uncredited photos are by K.T. Cannon-Eger. Please feel free to share this blog and please be nice and give credit when you do.


Categories: California, San Diego | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Short walk in Los Angeles yields several gardens


Los Angeles, San Jose, and San Francisco plus a few places remaining in Berkeley and San Diego offer visitors to those California cities glimpses into the old days of Japantowns. Here a daruma is one image of three on fans attached to utility poles throughout Little Tokyo in Los Angeles.          [photo by K.T. Cannon-Eger]

We passed through Los Angeles on our way to a Japanese garden conference in Denver sponsored by the North American Japanese Garden Association (NAJGA). During a previous conference some years earlier, a tour guided us through the triangular garden at the Japanese American Cultural & Community Center designed by Takeo Uesugi in the early 1970s. Thirty years later, Mr. Uesugi returned for a complete renewal of the same garden, which also involved modifying the downstairs conference room with folding glass doors that would open completely, blending inside and outside.

As is true with many gardens, it is named not for the location, organization, or designer. This is the James Irvine Japanese Garden named for the foundation whose generosity made this hidden gem possible. It also is known as Senryu-en, Garden of the Clear Stream.


David Sipos hand planed and traditionally built bridge is holding up very nicely

For more information on the Japanese American Cultural & Community Center, please look at their web site:

Across the brick plaza and past the Isamu Noguchi sculpture to the other side is a wonderful wander through the stores and restaurants of Little Tokyo.


On the other side of that is East First Street and the “new” Nishi Hongwanji of Los Angeles.

Members of the sangha took time to point out how grateful they felt to have quite a number of landscapers among their membership. My personal favorites were the rustic lantern on the First Street side and several beautifully pruned pines.

For more information on the Nishi Hongwanji Los Angeles Betsuin contact their web site:

Back up First Street is the old Nishi Hongwanji building, now part of the Japanese American National Museum campus.

Exterior glass admits great light far into the interior. The glass is continued inside with a very subtle gratitude to donors “wall” between the great hall and the outdoor cafe.

For more information on the Japanese American National Museum, contact their web site:

Between the old Nishi Hongwanji and the Japanese American National Museum, a wide plaza leads back to monuments dedicated to Japanese American service in World War II. “Go For Broke” was their motto.

Further up the street is Anzen Hardware, covered in an earlier post.

And then back to the hotel we chose for proximity to all these places and the exquisite third floor garden, accessible via elevator from the lobby.

Kyoto Gardens has become a Hilton DoubleTree. The garden hosts many wedding parties.

Before leaving town the following morning, we walked down the street to see the Higashi Hongwanji gardens, presently being maintained by the son of one of the garden’s builders.


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Photos by K.T. Cannon-Eger. We welcome helpful remarks and sharing of material. If you share, please be nice and give credit.


Categories: California, Los Angeles | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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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