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4th Int'l Japanese Garden Symposium - Day 1

Contact: info@jgarden.org
Last Updated: 9/6/2004

The following notes are from Day 1 of the 4th International Japanese Garden Symposium, held in Seattle, Washington 28 August 2004 - 30 August 2004. The following is not an exact transcript - your editor has taken liberties in order to construct some complete sentences and any errors in interpretation are entirely his responsibility.

Opening Remarks
The events were opened by Tom Brook - retired P & G employee and member of the Board of the Puget Sound Japanese Garden Society

This was followed by welcome words by Cap Saheki, President of IAJG, Portland The IAJG was founded in 1991 and held its first Symposium in 1996. This is the 4th such Symposium and Mr. Saheki noted that 2004 is a special year for US-Japan relations, it being the 150th anniversary of the 1854 opening of official relations between Japan and US.

Additional remarks were made by Takenosuke Tatsui - VP of IAJG, President of Garden Society of Japan.

Keynote Address
Takeo Uesugi, Professor Emeritus at Cal Poly, Pomona, FASLA; President, Uesugi & Associates
From Traditional to Contemporary: The Evolution of Japanese Gardens
Overview The challenge of presenting material to an audience of both English and Japanese speakers permeates the conference. Mr. Uesugi decided to focus his talk around visuals in order to mitigate this issue.

Early Development of Japanese Gardens in the U.S.
Mr. Uesugi traced the history of the Japanese garden in the United States from 1894 to the present. He began by highlighting some early expo sites as particularly influential upon North American perceptions of Japanese gardens including:
  • 1876 Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia which featured a two-story timber-framed building in a U-shape as well as an attached garden.
  • The 1893 Phoenix Hall installation at the Worlds Columbian Exposition, Chicago
  • 1894 California Midwinter Exposition, San Francisco.
  • Japanese Village and Imperial Japanese Garden at the 1904 St Louis Universal Exposition.
  • Tea Garden at the 1915 Panama-California Expo, Balboa Park, San Diego.

While these gardens and buildings are clearly about art and craft, the pavilions at these world expositions were primarily concerned with the development of a political and economic relationship between Japan and the United States. The gardens were a means of developing institutional connections at an official level rather than relationship between individuals. Gardens and architecture were constructed to promote and transmit industry, commerce and agriculture to the Americas, and were often constructed to be very similar to those found in Japan.

Lawrence Halprin, Hideo Sasaki, Peter Walker and other contemporary landscape architects have been much more concerned with a personal interpretation of Japanese garden concepts. This dichotomy between gardens developed as an institutional level vs. gardens as a personal interpretation of cultural influences continues to exist today.

In both cases, however, the Japanese garden always contains a social and cultural relationship between people. Isamu Noguchi stands out as one of the great landscape architects of the 20th Century. He designed his gardens and sculpture around the people at a number of levels.

After World War II
After the War, the lifting of the internment camps allowed a more cultural and aesthetic appreciation of Japanese Gardens. The Occupation and increasing economic ties with Japan meant that Japanese culture generally, and gardens specifically, received more attention as more people and businesses

©1996-2002, Robert Cheetham; ©2022 Japanese Garden Research Network, Inc.
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