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Huntington’s Japanese Garden marks 100 years

This 2012 phoprovided by The HuntingtLibrary Art Collections Botanical Gardens shows new ceremonial teahouse The Huntingtonís Japanese Garden. The Japanese

This 2012 photo provided by The Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens shows the new ceremonial teahouse at The Huntingtonís Japanese Garden. The Japanese Garden, which reopened earlier this year following a yearlong renovation, was created 100 years ago by railroad tycoon and art collector Henry Edwards Huntington. (AP Photo/The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens)

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JAPANESE GARDEN AT THE HUNTINGTON LIBRARY, ART COLLECTIONS AND BOTANICAL GARDENS: 1151 Oxford Rd., San Marino, Calif.; or (626) 405-2100. Summer hours through Labor Day (closed Tuesdays): open daily 10:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Tickets to grounds include Japanese garden and other areas. Adults, $20 weekdays, $23 weekends; seniors, $15 and $18; students 12-18, $12 and $13; children 5-11, $8; children under 5, free. Parking is free.

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Updated: August 30, 2012 6:18AM

SAN MARINO, Calif. — With ponds of koi, a newly installed ceremonial teahouse and sloping bridge, the reopened Japanese Garden at the Huntington Library in San Marino is celebrating its 100th anniversary after an extensive, yearlong renovation.

The nine-acre garden, closed for a full year, cost $6.8 million to restore and improve. Not only beautifully landscaped, it’s also dazzlingly multi-layered, set off to the edge of the sprawling 207-acre Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens, with Southern California’s San Gabriel Mountains in the distance.

“The Japanese Garden has been one of our most popular attractions for a century, so our intention wasn’t to change the things that made it so well loved but to restore it to its original beauty,” said Huntington Library spokeswoman Lisa Blackburn.

Paths curve up and down through a bamboo forest, past a raked-gravel dry garden, a bonsai court lined with pruned, delicate miniature trees and a display of large, smooth black viewing stones.

Railroad tycoon and art collector Henry Edwards Huntington, spurred on by a popularly held Western fascination with Asian culture at the time, created the garden between 1911 and 1912 soon after completing his house on the property, according to the Huntington Library’s website. Huntington bought a tea house in Pasadena owned by George Turner Marsh, an antiques dealer who also created the popular tea garden in Golden Gate Park, and rebuilt it in San Marino. The acquisitions from Marsh included the streamlined, square, upper-class Japanese House, parts of which were actually created in Japan, and then shipped to California.

Post-World War II, amid staffing shortages and political discontent, the Japanese Garden became neglected, with areas shut off to the public, according to the Huntington. Damage included rotted wood and termite infestation. Various partial renovations over the years led to the yearlong mass restoration and improvement effort starting in April 2011. Landscape architects Takeo Uesugi and his son, Keiji Uesugi, oversaw the Japanese Garden project’s design.

Now the grounds feel lush, densely green and joyous.

The centrally located, perfectly arched moon bridge, for years painted red, until 1992, when it was stripped to its natural wood, sits below the Japanese House. The new ceremonial teahouse, named Seifu-an (“Arbor of Pure Breeze”), flanks a new ceremonial tea garden. The Pasadena Buddhist Temple donated the small teahouse to the Huntington in 2010. It was built in Kyoto in 1964, disassembled at the Pasadena temple, shipped back to Kyoto, renovated there, and shipped back to the Huntington in May 2011.


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