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Japanese Teahouse and Demonstration Garden
URL:Goto this web site  http://www.sbbg.org/ 
Name:Japanese Teahouse and Demonstration Garden  
Alternate Name:The Botanic Garden at Santa Barbara and Ojai 
Address:1212 Mission Canyon Rd 
Mailing Address: 
City:Santa Barbara 
State:California 
Postal Code:93105-2126 
Country:UNITED STATES 
Weather:current weather 
Phone:+1.805.682.4726 
Fax: 
E-Mail: 
Contact: 
Designer(s): 
Construction Period: -  
Public/Private:PUBLIC 
Hours: 
Admission: 
Added to JGarden:9/4/2004 
Last Updated:9/4/2004 
JGarden Description:This unique garden began with a teahouse built in 1949 by skilled craftsmen in Kyoto (headed by Nisaburou Shimizu) and then shipped to California as a gift from Mr. Sasaki, President of Nippon Oil Company to the retired businessman, Royce Greatwood (1898-1980) in gratitude for his work with Union Oil in Japan during the Occupation. The teahouse was reassembled in the Greatwood’s Hope Ranch lemon orchard. The ranch was sold in 1958 to the John H. Esbenshade family. It was later sold again in 1996. The new owners were not interested in maintaining it, but Alice Esbenshade Burke, who had studied tea in Kyoto in the 1970’s, wanted to see the old building preserved. It was initially offered to the Santa Barbara Museum of Art. In 1998, with the help of the Santa Barbara-Toba Sister City Organization, the Ms. Esbenshade arranged for the donation of the teahouse to the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden, where it is being preserved for future generations.

While the original plan was to move the teahouse intact to its new location, the prospect of moving it through a narrow valley made this impossible. Norifumi Hashibe, a South Pasadena architect, was retained to perform the restoration that would become necessary if the building was going to be broken down. The entire building was disassembled, numbered and transported to Los Angeles for cleaning and inspection. Hashibe discovered that while the workmanship was of outstanding quality, poor quality materials had been used in hidden parts of the structure. This is not surprising given the resource limitations of post-War Japan. The Coats article even describes how old Mitsui family household records were used to line the fusuma panels. A decision was made to retain as much as possible of the aged wood, but replace items that had deteriorated. New hinoki was ordered to replace the damaged portions. The roof was the next source of trouble. It was agreed by the advisory committee that the roof should be replaced with a thatched reed roof. Hashibe felt that this steeper angle to the roofline would fit in the new site location. California officials were concerned this would be fire hazard, so specially treated fire retardant miscanthus reeds were shipped from Japan and new roof attached in 2001. The local residents, however, became concerned that a thatched roof in a fire-prone location. The SBBG CEO, Ed Schneider made the difficult decision to have the new roof removed and replaced with asphalt shingles. The area around the site was redesigned as a garden. Specimen trees were retained, the dry wash was re-contoured and nearby rock was left in place. A small waterfall was added, but water and noise concerns have restricted its use.

The sukiya-style teahouse has three rooms: a 4.5-mat main tea room with tokonoma and entryway; a 3-mat waiting room; and a preparation room. It is a very traditional design with bamboo and cedar strip ceiling, fusuma, amado, and shojiscreens, plaster walls, and a thatched roof. This arrangement places the teahouse as a cross between the rustic soan style of Sen no Rikyu (1522-1591) and the more elaborate shoin style promoted by Kobori Enshu (1579-1647). The teahouse was named ShinKanAn (lit. ‘look through the heart’) by the Urasenke Tea School. The teahouse has been nestled into a roji based on native California plants. A stone bridge divides an inner garden uchi roji from the outer garden soto roji. Other landmarks include a tsukubai, manzanita, Port Orford cedar, coffeeberry, Island redberry and madrone plantings. A key objective of the Botanic garden is preservation of these native California plants. The Coats article points out that the teahouse’s presence in a botanic garden dedicated to California native species is rather strange. However, by working with ‘fossil’ plants that were once both present in Japan and Cali 




The path of fallen leaves
Leads to the graves on the hill,
And stops there.

  Hatsutaro
  trans. by R.H. Blyth

©1996-2002, Robert Cheetham; ©2019 Japanese Garden Research Network, Inc.
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