Storrier-Stearns Japanese Garden

Storrier-Stearns Japanese Garden, Pasadena, CA

Tradition and Practice

Annual Conference of the California Garden and Landscape History Society
September 28-30, 2007, Los Angeles, California

For our 2007 Conference CGLHS joins with the Japanese American National Museum, The Garden Conservancy, and the Los Angeles Conservancy to host a three-day event featuring an exhibit, lectures, tours, and receptions.

Exotic portions of great estates, commercial teahouse gardens, modest bungalow gardens, and public sister city or friendship gardens—for more than a century the lure of Japan has inspired a category of gardens that will be the subject of the California Garden and Landscape History Society’s conference and annual meeting.  Through talks, an exhibition visit, and garden tours, the conference will focus not only on the Japanese-style garden in California but on the Japanese Americans who designed, constructed, and maintained them.

Little Tokyo, long-time heart of the Los Angeles Japanese American community, is the site of the conference, which begins Friday evening at the Japanese American National Museum with a reception and private viewing of the multimedia exhibition, Landscaping America: Beyond the Japanese Garden.  (On Friday there is also an option to visit two important, public Japanese-style gardens.)  Saturday’s schedule includes experts who will speak about the history, design, and maintenance of Japanese-style gardens.  A walking tour of the Little Tokyo National Historic Landmark District and an evening reception at the New Otani Hotel’s “Garden in the Sky” (based on a 16th century Japanese stroll garden) conclude the day.  An optional dinner will be enlivened by Naomi Hirahara, who will entertain us with a reading from her mystery series featuring Los Angeles gardener Mas Arai.  On Sunday we will tour a variety of Japanese-style gardens in the Los Angeles area and end the day in a private garden.

For more specific information or to volunteer to assist with the conference please e-mail or phone (323) 462-2443.

For more background information see Judy M. Horton’s article, California Japanese-Style Gardens: Tradition and Practice, available for download with permission from Pacific Horticulture magazine

Friday, September 28
8am-5pm6-9pm Pre-Conference Options (see below)Conference Opening Reception and Exhibit:Landscaping America: Beyond the Japanese GardenJapanese American National Museum

369 East First Street, Los Angeles

Saturday, September 29
8:30am – 5pm Lectures and Walking Tour of Little Tokyo:National Center for the Preservation of Democracy111 North Central Avenue, Los Angeles“Democracy Forum” auditorium
6-7pm No Host Cocktails“Garden in the Sky” at the New Otani Hotel120 South Los Angeles Street, Los Angeles
7-9:30pm Dinner (optional) with a reading by Naomi
HiraharaNew Otani Hotel
Sunday, September 30
10am-4pm Self Driving Tour: Cultivating LA: 100 Years
Garden Making in Southern California
Los Angeles Conservancy docents will be on hand to interpret
five gardens and sites featured in the JANM exhibit and discussed
in Saturday’s lectures.Cultivating LA is included with conference Registration.
Additional tickets for people not attending the conference
are available at Conference Attendees Only:Car pools from the Little Tokyo area will be arranged
4-5pm The day will end in a very special private

Pre-Conference Options Friday, September 28:
There are several public Japanese-style gardens of note in the Los Angeles area. Conference attendees are encouraged to visit some of these gardens during the day on Friday. A list will be included with your registration confirmation.

Bus Tour 9am-5pm:
Designed for our out-of-town guests, this tour will take you to two important public Japanese-style gardens. We will leave from the New Otani hotel and drive to west Los Angeles to see the UCLA Hannah Carter Japanese Garden. Following lunch in the Sawtelle area, we will travel across town to Pasadena to visit the Japanese Garden at the Huntington Botanical Gardens. At both gardens we will receive a special tour. Please reserve early as we can only accommodate 35 people.

Self Drive to UCLA Hannah Carter:
This garden is open to the public by appointment only. We are in the process of making special arrangements with the university to visit on Friday. There will be a fee to park on campus and for a shuttle to the garden. You will be sent information about this special opportunity with your registration confirmation.

Opening Reception & Exhibit:
Landscaping America: Beyond the Japanese Garden
This multimedia exhibition reveals the personal stories, historical journeys, communities, and creativity that underlie the surface of the “Japanese garden.” The exhibit highlights how West Coast Japanese Americans drew upon their agricultural and ethnic backgrounds to carve out a viable vocational niche in gardening while reinterpreting Japanese garden traditions, offering alternative approaches to working with nature, and contributing to the diversity of the American landscape.
Location: Japanese American National Museum
369 East First Street, Los Angeles
(213) 625-0414  |

Kendall H. Brown, Associate Professor, Asian Art History at California State University, Long Beach is the foremost scholar of America’s Japanese-style gardens. He holds a Ph.D. in art history from Yale University and has studied at Osaka and Kyoto Universities in Japan. He is the author of Japanese-Style Gardens of the Pacific West Coast, Rizzoli, 1999. Dr. Brown is currently writing a book on the social and cultural history of Japanese gardens in North America which will be drawn on more than 15 years of research across the continent. In addition to giving a general overview of California Japanese-style Gardens he will speak on “Kinzuchi Fujii and the Storrier-Stearns Japanese Garden.”

Naomi Hirahara is the author of a series set in Los Angeles featuring Japanese American gardener, Mas Arai.  Snakeskin Shamesin, the third novel in the series, won the Edgar Award from the Mystery Writers of America for best paperback original.  Hirahara was the editor of Green Makers: Japanese American Gardeners in Southern California, and she has written or edited numerous other works. Her short film, Mamo’s Weeds, featuring another fictional Los Angeles gardener, is part of the exhibit Landscaping America: Beyond the Japanese Garden.

George Abe, shakuhachi player, will accompany Naomi Hirahara. He was born in Manzanar, California and raised in southwest Los Angeles, where his musical training began in the public schools with clarinet, oboe, and saxophone instruction. After graduating from college, his interest in Japanese bamboo flutes led him to the shakuhachi and the shinobue. He is a founding member of the Kinnara Taiko Group, one of the first taiko (Japanese drum) groups to form in the United States. As a member of Japanese Festival Sounds, he performs on the taiko and bamboo flutes at schools throughout California, and he has conducted lecture performances at the Smithsonian Institution, the Japanese American National Museum, and at universities.

Nori Hashibe teaches landscape architecture through the UCLA Extension program. In addition to graphic design and advanced design studios, he has taught specialty courses including Construction of Ponds & Streams and Japanese Landscape Architecture: Present & Past. He has led garden tours to Japan and spoken at the University of Arts and Crafts in Tokyo and at the Yomiuri Overseas Arts Conference. In private practice his projects include the teahouse and garden at Woodward Park in Fresno, and he was the project architect for the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden’s Japanese Teahouse. His unique, contemporary floral arrangements reference Ikebana and other inspirations.

Sojin Kim is a curator at the Japanese American National Museum, where she is involved in exhibition and collections development. Her exhibitions include Landscaping America: Beyond the Japanese Garden (2007); Big Drum: Taiko in the United States (2005); Object Lessons: Exploring the Permanent Collection (2003); and Boyle Heights: The Power of Place (2002). She will present the oral history and video on the Southern California Gardeners’ Federation.

Makoto Suzuki teaches at Tokyo University of Agriculture in the Department of Landscape Architecture Science. His research interests include the history of modern landscape architecture, the critical examination of modern garden design, and Japanese gardens outside of Japan. Books and articles include: Karesansu’i as a Vocabulary of Modern Landscape Design (Art and Landscape, 2001); The Conception of Territorial Gardens (2000); Genealogy of Modern Japanese Garden Design (1998); Civil Landscape (1997); and The Image and View of Japanese Gardens in the Minds of Westerners (1997). He recently chaired the Japanese Gardens in the World committee for the Japanese Institute of Landscape Architecture. Professor Suzuki has been a visiting scholar at UC Berkeley’s Department of Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning.

Takeo Uesugi, Ph.D, FASLA, taught landscape architecture for several decades at Cal Poly (CSPU) Pomona, and is much sought after as a designer of Japanese-style gardens. His James Irvine Garden at the Japanese American Cultural & Community Center will be featured during the Conference. Dr. Uesugi, in his talk “From Japanese Garden to California Landscape,” will discuss the future of California Japanese-style gardens based on his experience in the design, construction, and maintenance of gardens and his knowledge of the history and concepts of Japanese gardens.

William Noble, Director of Preservation Projects for The Garden Conservancy, will moderate a panel discussion, Traditions in Transformation.

Japanese-style gardens on the west coast have a long and often complex history and the issues surrounding their preservation have as much to do with changing ideas of authenticity and how they are experienced by the public as they do with maintenance and continuity/discontinuity of stewardship. Gardens of all genres, but perhaps Japanese-style gardens more than most, face an array of preservation challenges having to do with ownership, public use, continuity and availability of skilled labor and management by entities that may or may not have an understanding of their particular cultural and historical considerations.

This panel will examine issues surrounding the preservation of three southern-California Japanese-style gardens: the Huntington Japanese Gardens; the James Irvine Japanese Garden and the Ganna Walska Lotusland Japanese Garden.

The panelists include:
Chris Aihara, Executive Director, Japanese American Cultural and Community Center
Jim Folsom, Director of the Huntington Botanical Gardens
Greg Kitajima, Gana Walska Lotusland Japanese Garden Specialist
Trudi Sandmeier, Director of Education, Los Angeles Conservancy

Garden Tours (partial list)
Garden in the Sky, New Otani Hotel, Little Tokyo
Huntington Japanese Garden, San Marino
James Irvine Japanese Garden, Little Tokyo
Miller Garden, Sierra Madre
Manabi and Sumi Hirasaki Family Garden, Japanese American National Museum, Little Tokyo
Norton Avenue
Garden of Peace, Roosevelt High School, Boyle Heights
Storrier-Stearns Japanese Garden, Pasadena
San Gabriel Nursery
UCLA’s Hannah Carter Japanese Garden, Bel Air