Posts Tagged With: world fair

Long time favorite still pleases

In the early 1970s, my husband and I lived in San Francisco before moving to Hawaii. We used to walk all over the city, sometimes hopping on a bus, streetcar or cable car.

Golden Gate Park was a favorite for exhibits at the DeYoung, competitions at the Hall of Flowers, and peaceful respite with tea at the Japanese garden. Coming back to the city in 2012 was a wonderful time to visit with much missed friends. We enjoyed a progressive dinner in Little Italy with appetizers, main course, and coffee with dessert in three different places.

And we couldn’t wait to see the new (to us) additions to the San Francisco Japanese Tea Garden.


The South Gare, originally from the Japan exhibit at the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco, was partially rebuilt in the 1980s   [photo by Bill F. Eger]

“Originally created as a ‘Japanese Village’ exhibit for the 1894 California Midwinter International Exposition, the site originally spanned about one acre and showcased a Japanese style garden,” according to the gardens website

“When the fair closed, Japanese landscape architect Makoto Hagiwara and [park] superintendent John McLaren reached a gentleman’s agreement, allowing Mr. Hagiwara to create and maintain a permanent Japanese style garden as a gift for posterity.”

The Californi fair came to be because Michael H. deYoung was a Presidential appointee to the 1893 fair in Chicago — the World’s Columbian Exposition — and he saw the benefits to his home state. Soon, plans were underway to hold a six-month exhibition in Golden Gate Park from late January to early July 1894.

The San Francisco Japanese Tea Garden is the only ethnological display still in existence from that fair. And Makoto Hagiwara poured his talents and personal wealth into expanding its gardens to five acres.


real ducks mingle with metal cranes in a pond     [photo by Bill F. Eger]

Makoto died in 1925 and care of the garden passed to his daughter Takano Hagiwara. With the outbreak of World War II and the relocation and incarceration of most Japanese from the West Coast, the Hagiwara family was removed from their beloved garden, which was renamed “The Oriental Tea Garden.” Japanese structures and a Shinto shrine were demolished. Chinese women replaced Japanese tea servers.


waterfall, stones and lantern reflect in a pond below the iconic tea house  [photo by Bill F. Eger]

Following the war, in the 1950s, a period of reconciliation ensued. The tea house and gift shop were redesigned by Nagao Sakurai. Japanese elements returned to the garden. The name was restored. And most of the Hagiwara family’s dwarf trees returned.

The street in front of the garden entry was renamed Hagiwara Tea Garden Drive and in 1974 artist Ruth Asawa donated a plaque honoring the Hagiwara family’s dedication.


seasonal color comes with summer’s iris        [photo by K.T. Cannon-Eger]


traditional pathways blend with more modern walkways   [photo by K.T. Cannon-Eger]

Congratulations to the management on improving the quality of items offered at the gift shop. And a special tip of the hat to the Japanese and Japanese-Americans serving at the tea house. The tea was very tasty.

For more on the history of the San Francisco Japanese Tea Garden, please refer to the garden’s web site mentioned above, and to the web site of Eric Sumiharu Hagiwara-Nagata

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

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

Treasure Island 1939

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(photo by Bill F. Eger)

(photo by Bill F. Eger)

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

Elaine Sedlack shows the gate

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Categories: Berkeley, California | 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:  ]

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

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

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:

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:

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.

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.,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

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