Mr. Charles Wood, President, Japanese Garden Foundation, Inc.
Dr. Takeo Uesugi
Added to JGarden:
This garden has not yet been constructed, and has recently begun a fundraising campaign. This new garden will be associated with Ernest and Mary Fenollosa, the art historians who received the highest award ever presented to a foreigner by the Emperor of Japan for their contribution to Japanese art history. It will be located on the site of a former fish hatchery, fed by a freshwater spring.
Mobile has a sister-city relationship with Ichihara-shi in Chiba-ken and this is playing a part in the development of the garden.
Ernest F. Fenellosa (1853-1908) made contributions to the development of higher education in Japan as well as research on and preservation of cultural properties during his employment as a civil servant with the national government (1878-1890). Back in North America, Fenellosa and later, his wife, worked to introduce and propagate Japanese art and culture to Americans. When he left Japan for the first time in 1890, he was given the Order of the Sacred Mirror (his fourth decoration by the Japanese government and the highest honor ever given to a foreigner) by the Emperor and charged with continuing his work in the United States. He subsequently worked for the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. In 1895, he married Mary McNeil who had also gone to Boston to work at the MFA. In 1896, they went to Japan to lecture and study religion, sociology, Noh theatre and Chinese and Japanese poetry. They remained there until 1900. Mary was enormously homesick and used this to write her first novel "Truth Dexter", a great success for a first novel and a passionate invocation of her homeland in Mobile, Alabama. When they returned to the U.S., they established a home in Mobile called Kobonata (Little Sunshine). Professor Fenollosa continued to travel throught the U.S. and Europe, lecturing and doing research on the arts. He died suddenly on September 21, 1908 while on a trip to London. Prior to his death, he had completed a first draft of a book called Epochs of Chinese and Japanese Art. It had not yet been submitted to a publisher because much editing and fact checks remained to be done. Mary picked up in the manuscript after his death and typed the scattered notes and then in 1910, returned to Japan to meet with his former colleagues, made the necessary corrections and additions. The book was published in 1912 and remains one of the best early surveys of pre-20th century East Asian art.
Fenellosa's grave is at Homyo-in in Otsu and there is a memorial at the Tokyo University of Art, which he helped found. There are few such memorials to Fenellosa in the U.S. and the Fenollosa Hall planned at the Japanese Garden of Mobile will be a historical and cultural continuation of his legacy. Without the Fenellosa's efforts, a great deal of Japan's artistic and cultural patrimony would have been lost as the shogunate crumbled in 1868. Mary Fenollosa was from Mobile, and the original site of the Fenollosa's retirement estate (Kobonata) overlooks the proposed site for the Japanese Garden.
The Japanese Garden Foundation, Inc., a not-for-profit (501)(C)(3) organization, was chartered on July 25, 1995 for the purpose of developing a Japanese public garden in the City of Mobile. The Foundation is governed by a ten member volunteer board, which includes the Mayor, City of Mobile, the Honorary Counsel General of Japan, and professionals in the fields of law, finance, banking, corporate business and representatives of the community of culture and the arts of Japan.
Takeo Uesugi, Ph.D designed the garden and Hayahiko Takase designed the Shoin-style architecture on the site. The garden is expected to cost US$7.2 million.
The rippling wisteria
That I planted by my house
As a momento
Of thee whom I love
Is at length in blossom.