A Japanese Garden Experience in Manitoga

The renowned Scottish landscape architect and ecological planning pioneer Ian McHarg was once quoted as saying that if Manitoga was built in Japan, it would have been a “national monument.” “Japan has many such sites, but the United States has only Manitoga, the temple to managed succession, inspired ecological design.”

Manitoga in Garrison, New York  has since achieved that distinction and more. It is a National Historic Landmark, an Affiliate Site of the National Trust for Historic Conservation and a World Monuments Watch Site.  Officially known as the Manitoga/ The Russell Wright Design Center, it is a place still strongly animated by the vision of its original owner and creator, Midcentury modern designer Russell Wright whose work was strongly influenced by Japanese aesthetics, not least in the way he conceptualized his home / studio (Dragon Rock) and the woodland garden around it.

Wright’s Japanese connection apparently runs deeper than is commonly thought.  He also contributed to the cross-fertilization of American and Japanese sensibilities in Modernist aesthetics by serving as an adviser to the post-World War II Japanese government on handcraft design that would resonate with the US export market, according to Japanese Modernist design scholar Yuko Kikuchi.

In Manitoga, which Wright considers as a pinnacle of his career, the Japanese touch is everywhere evident and seamlessly integrated into his nature-centered instinct for design and even his taste for theatrics as a former theater set designer.  Dragon Rock is said to be reminiscent of Japanese temple architecture, as executed by architect David L. Leavitt with whom Wright shares a fondness for Japanese design. Leavitt has worked in Japan with the architect Antonin Raymond whose students include the Japanese architect Junzo Yoshimura, creator of the Shofuso Japanese House and Garden in Philadelphia and the traditional teahouse at the Japanese garden in Kykuit, the Rockefeller Estate, Tarrytown, New York.

While Dragon Rock has often been compared to the famous Fallingwater house of architect Frank Lloyd Wright (no relation), it seems to fall back more into the landscape, despite a name that’s evocative of a far more conspicuous presence.  From the green roofs — revolutionary for a structure built in the early 1950s — to the floor-to-ceiling windows and the tree trunk and natural boulders that define the interiors of the space, Wright was intent on blurring the boundaries between the outdoor and indoor spaces and synthesizing the natural with the man-made, a design sentiment that is also characteristically Japanese.  The name of the house itself, derived from the innocent fancy of Wright’s young daughter Annie who imagined a dragon shape in the rock formation, recalls the convention for naming rocks in a Japanese garden for mythical animals.

The great outdoors that Wright and Leavitt sought to bring in through this organic architecture is a 75-acre expanse that simultaneously evokes the experience of a stroll garden from Japan’s Edo Period (1603 – 1867) and taps into Wright’s penchant for drama as a former stage designer. Even as the house maximizes the view outside, the forest garden is also meant to be journeyed into.

fall-at-manitoga
Autumn in Manitoga

Here, the Japanese garden design principle of miegakure (hide and reveal) also becomes a device in Wright’s nature theater for building up a dramatic effect as one traverses through the path of the woodland garden.

Along each path, the landscape and its themes unfold sequentially. There is an introduction, a dramatic build-up, elaboration of a theme, and then a climax or a goal; the building of tension and its dramatic release – the whole design a musical composition.”     

A rock in the middle of the driveway, for example, slows movement and forces contemplation of the immediate surroundings. The sound of an unseen water feature at an entrance builds anticipation.

This theatricality also plays into the notion of a Japanese garden as an idealized re-creation or distillation of nature.  Landscape architect and Wright’s cousin Carol Franklin notes Wright’s manipulation of naturally occurring elements, particularly native plant species, to create the moments of denouement in the garden: a moss garden on top of the quarry pond, masses of mountain laurels and dogwoods in bloom, a fiery corridor of backlit autumn foliage.  Design historian D.J. Huppatz also speculated about Wright’s use of “borrowed scenery” (shakkei) to provide points of interest along the walking paths.

And then, there are the rocks. In the course of the 35 years since first acquiring the property as an abandoned granite quarry in 1942, Wright bided his time studying and working with the natural rock formations in the area to distill its essence as a “place of great spirit” (the English translation of “Manitoga,” an Algonquin word). A mountain stream was diverted and a 30-foot, multi-level waterfall created to form a swimming pond. There are also a variety of rock groupings and stepping stone paths found all over the property.  These rocks, ancient as they are in these parts, found a new purpose in the nexus of the natural and built environment in Manitoga.

Manitoga is part of the Garden Architecture Tour on October 7, 2016 co-hosted by the North American Japanese Garden Association and the Japan American Society of Greater Philadelphia. The tour is part of a two-day event on October 7 and 8, “Modernism, Japanese Carpentry and the Garden: Preserving the Architecture of Junzo Yoshimura.” For details and to register, visit http://najga.org/Philadelphia-2016


SOURCES:

Brown, Jane Roy, “Learning From Dragon Rock,” Landscape Architecture, Sept. 2005, https://www.asla.org/lamag/lam05/September/ecology.html 

Hobens, Barbara, “Philipstown Gardens: Inspirations from Manitoga,” The Highlands Current, April 2, 2011, http://highlandscurrent.com/2011/04/02/philipstown-gardens-4/

Huppatz, D.J., “Manitoga and Japan” http://djhuppatz.blogspot.com/2010/03/manitoga-and-japan.html

Kikuchi, Yuko, “Russell Wright and Japan: Bridging Japonisme and Good Design Through Craft,” The Journal of Modern Craft, Vol. 1 2008, Issue 3  http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.2752/174967808X379434?journalCode=rfmc20

Mendelsohn, Meredith, “Manitoga: Force of Nature,” Garden Design Magazine  http://www.gardendesign.com/new-york/garrison-manitoga.html

www.visitmanitoga.org

A Japanese Garden Experience in Manitoga

Aesthetic Pruners’ Association Presents Intensive Pruning Workshop

The Aesthetic Pruners Association (APA), a member organization of the North American Japanese Garden Association (NAJGA),  is conducting an intensive, hands-on pruning workshop from November 3 to 5, 2016 at the Gardens at Lake Merritt in Oakland, California. Experienced teachers will present aesthetic pruning principles and practices and guide workshop participants in applying these techniques in Lake Merritt’s seven acres of beautiful themed gardens. Participants will come away with pruning skills and concepts which will both challenge and enhance their existing knowledge. All horticultural professionals regardless of specialization and level of experience are welcome to attend.

The difference that aesthetic pruning can make.   

Curriculum Highlights

Day 1Aesthetic Pruning Basics– morning lecture, hands-on pruning in the afternoon

  • Defining pruning
  • Assessing a tree’s health and history
  • Learning the three pruning cuts and knowing the tree’s response
  • Making a seasonal plan
  • Pruning coarse to fine and up and out, finding the good, considering context and environment

Day 2Aesthetic Pruning Principles: Focal Point, Essence and Garden Context- morning lecture, hands-on pruning in the afternoon.

  • Identifying and enhancing a tree’s essence using structure, texture, hide-and-reveal and branch definition
  • Finding the good, making space and creating a sense of age
  • Reading a garden using style, flow, topography and viewing points
  • Separating background, mid-ground and focal point using movement, line, flow and perception
  • Achieving scale and proportion.

For more information and to register to attend the workshop, please visit the APA website: aestheticprunersassociation.org.

 

Aesthetic Pruners’ Association Presents Intensive Pruning Workshop

North American Japanese Garden Association

The North American Japanese Garden Association (NAJGA) is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization founded in 2011 by leading Japanese gardens in the US and Canada. Our members are based in different parts of North America and overseas, and include garden institutions, professional societies, businesses and individuals with either a professional or a personal interest in the field of Japanese gardening.

Join as a member or become one of our supporters! Visit our website at najga.org

NAJGA 2016 Group Shot
2016 NAJGA Conference in Delray Beach, Florida. USA
North American Japanese Garden Association

Art Meets Medicine at the Harn Museum’s Asian Rock Garden

by Martin McKellar, Ph.D, Asian Garden Specialist and Volunteer, Harn Museum 

The University of Florida’s Samuel P. Harn Museum of Art, in Gainesville, Florida, has an Asian Rock Garden designed by Kurisu International.

Click HERE to find garden location. 

Dr. Kendall Brown, while Board President of the North American Japanese Garden Association, visited the garden in 2015. It was my good fortune to be the one to introduce him to the Asian Rock Garden. Preparations for the 2016 Biennial Conference, Towards A Healthier World: Japanese Gardens as Places of Health and Well Being, were in progress. When I mentioned the existence of the University of Florida (UF) Health Shands Arts in Medicine program (AIM) , Dr. Brown was enthusiastic. Dr. Brown’s enthusiasm made me wonder if the Harn’s Asian Rock Garden could be formally used in a healing manner.

HarnAsianRockGarden-1
Photo: Martin McKellar

Cleaning a Zen garden is a soothing activity. The calming and meditative practice might be appropriate for a patient dealing with an illness, with one caveat: raking the gravel in the garden can be physically demanding, more so if one’s energy is diminished by illness. What if the patient is physically unable to visit the garden?

The  Arts in Medicine program  works with patients who are at  the nadir of their illness, unable to leave the hospital, or in some cases, their hospital room.

Tina Mullen, director of AIM, and myself have developed a program that splits the garden activity into two parts: the patient develops the meditative design for the gravel in the Harn’s Asian Rock Garden and I rake the design into the gravel.

HarnAsianRockGardenCloseUp-1
Photo: Aaron Wiener

First, AIM’s trained artist in residence identify a receptive patient in the UF Health Shands Hospital. The artist and patient discuss the concept of the garden, and where appropriate, read about traditional Zen gardens. The culmination of the patient’s reflection on the garden is the creation of a design to be raked into the garden’s gravel. There is one difficulty to overcome. The garden is dotted with boulders, ground level lighting and seating. The wooden garden rake is 30 inches wide. Will the patient develop a configuration on paper that can be duplicated in the garden with the 30 inches wide rake? The solution was to make a map to the scale of the garden in a size that fit on the patient’s overbed table,  and to create a multi-leaded pencil that is the equivalent to 30 inches wide in relationship to the map.  Then, the completed design is forwarded to me and I rake the configuration into the gravel.

A Skype session is organized between the artist and the patient in the hospital room, and the Harn museum staff in the garden on the other end. Museum staff with an iPad walk through the garden, stopping to talk about specific features with the patient.

Click HERE to view a video of a session.

A surprising commonality was revealed with the first patient. The patient found the pencil rake to be awkward and difficult to use, just as I found the heavy, 30 inch wooden rake to be an awkward raking tool. We understood each other.

The program gives the patient and the gardener the opportunity to consider new and creative ideas, to solve problems, and to engage in a satisfying exchange. The trial period for the program will be one year, during which four patients will participate. After the patient’s configuration is put into the garden, it is maintained for four to eight weeks. This time period dictates the speed with which the program can accommodate the next interested patient.

Questions or suggestions are welcome. They can be posted at this site or you are welcome to directly contact Martin McKellar at mmckellar_2000@yahoo.com.

Art Meets Medicine at the Harn Museum’s Asian Rock Garden

Cultural Crossing By Way Of Portland

Steve head shot IIPortland Japanese Garden CEO and past NAJGA Board President Steve Bloom fills us in on some notable facts  about the garden’s Cultural Crossing expansion project.

NAJGA: When and what was the turning point when the garden management first became serious about pursuing the Cultural Crossing project? How did the garden management first make the case for launching it to the garden’s various constituencies?

SB: Since 1963, the Portland Japanese Garden’s audience has grown 11-fold—from 30,000 visitors per year to almost 300,000 in 2015. In 2007, the Board of Trustees began to plan in earnest for the long-needed expansion, and launched an international design competition in 2010. One submission clearly exceeded the others in comprehensively addressing the site’s challenges, while keeping focus on our original garden spaces and understanding the unique aesthetics of a Japanese garden in a native Northwest forest. The proposal combined beauty, native materials, Japanese craftsmanship and design, and environmental sustainability with the highest level of functionality and comfort for the people who would use the spaces. The architect who submitted the proposal was Kengo Kuma, one of Japan’s premier designers.

KKAA - Village House Living

 NAJGA:  In terms of the architecture, how is Kengo Kuma adapting the monzenmachi concept to the Portland Japanese Garden’s particular context? How would you describe his design thesis for this project and the highlights of the project, in terms of design innovation and craftsmanship?  And what will happen to the existing visitor facilities in the garden?  

SB: In the past, Kengo Kuma has been entrusted with many culturally sensitive designs around the world, including beautiful iconic buildings valued especially for their appropriateness to site and function. Kuma and his team created a design for the Portland Japanese Garden that maximizes every inch of space on our hilltop, answers the Garden’s operational needs, and is beautiful in a particularly Japanese, understated way. The design blends seamlessly into the landscape. The new buildings will be designed according to the objectives of traditional Japanese architecture, using temples’ monzenmachi as inspiration.

KKAA - Cultural Village Entry, Rain

Traditionally, monzenmachi was the place for activity, for pilgrims and visitors of Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples to rest after the journey, to eat, and even to socialize. Monzenmachi literally means “town in front of the gate,” and our design for Portland Japanese Garden is a contemporary example of this.

The monzenmachi concept will preserve the essential experience for each individual visitor, spreading out needs such as admissions, information, education, events, orientation, restrooms, shopping, eating, sitting, and sharing their experiences—outside of the 5.5-acre Garden. Temples in Japan traditionally use this approach to preserve the sanctity of the shrine beyond its gates.  In our case, the spiritual destination is more nature-oriented rather than overtly religious. This idea of the village—a series of smaller buildings arranged around a casual but important shared or public space—allows programmed activities to be separated appropriately from the tranquility of the existing gardens, something not possible for Portland Japanese Garden until now.

The Garden’s new buildings will be designed according to the objectives of traditional Japanese architecture, in which the design blends seamlessly into the landscape.

KKAA_PJG_Village_Overview

The original garden space will remain untouched and unaltered. After the new buildings are completed, our existing Pavilion can be used more efficiently for extended exhibitions and events, such as the monthly Moonviewing. Our current Gift Store space will be repurposed for volunteer needs, with lockers, break room, tool storage, and an office for the Assistant Volunteer Coordinator. As our volunteer corps grows, this kind of space and access for volunteers is key to ensuring the Garden’s long-term success.

 NAJGA: What do you think will be the highlights of the new garden spaces for lovers of Japanese gardens? 

SB: The original five gardens blend into each other effortlessly, linked by the water that runs through them—including the dry “waves” raked into patterns in the Sand & Stone Garden. In the new gardens, which will surround and protect the original Garden, the flow of water will provide a connection throughout the entire 12-acre hillside. These breathtaking new spaces will offer a taste of diverse aesthetic design.

Cascading ponds and water terrace

For fifty years, the Garden’s front entrance in Washington Park has remained relatively invisible – a challenge for visitors to find their way to the Garden at the top of the hill. Cascading ponds will welcome visitors with a strong first impression.  The journey to the Garden will begin here, at the water’s edge, as if the visitor were setting foot on land from a voyage across the Pacific from Japan or disembarking from the Willamette or Columbia River, the original highways of this region.

From the water’s edge, visitors will meander along a zigzag path rising through a series of terraces with low native trees and shrubs, moving towards the forested hillside. This space will emulate the experience of moving up towards a Northwest forest from the lowlands of an Oregon riverbank, while the terraces are reminiscent of the tanada (rice paddy terraces) of rural Japan. This part of the journey begins the transition from the City to the tranquility of the Garden.

Moss hillside

Towering firs and cedars grow naturally along the hillside. The tall trees growing out of moss-covered slopes will create a space to quiet the mind and refresh the spirit. Water running down the hill will collect in a symbolic creek bed, full in winter and drying out during summer.  Just before the final leg of the ascent, a transparent bridge will span a portion of the hillside, creating an elevated view of the forest.

Tsubo-niwa At the top of the hill, visitors will arrive at the courtyard in the center of our new Cultural Village. The focal point will be an example of the modern Japanese garden style known as tsubo-niwa (tiny urban garden). Even though it occupies very little space, our tiny urban garden will incorporate each essential element of a Japanese garden – stone, water, and plants – and unobtrusively make nature the central focus of the Cultural Village.

KKAA - Tateuchi Courtyard from Village House

Ellie Hill bonsai terrace They say that the art of bonsai is the creation of a miniaturized landscape that fulfills the human yearning for a connection to nature in the smallest of spaces. This terrace will showcase seasonally resplendent specimens of these tiny trees, throughout the year.

Bill de Weese Chabana Garden Here, our gardeners will cultivate Japanese wildflowers, to be used in our regular tea ceremony demonstrations.  Chadō (tea ceremony) is a social ritual intended to restore harmony between individuals and between humanity and nature. This will be the only place in North America devoted to cultivating traditional Japanese tea flowers.

Oregon basalt terrace This will mark the highest point of the hillside. Traditionally, this spot is considered a symbolic space, where heaven and earth might meet.  Stone columns of Columbia River basalt will suggest the summits rising above the steep slopes of the Columbia Gorge and Takachiho Gorge in southern Japan.

NAJGA: What is the timeline/schedule for opening the expansion areas to the public? Is it happening all at once or in stages?  

SB: The Garden is closed for the first phase of construction, which is primarily excavation. We will reopen the main Garden on March 1, 2016. Construction will continue outside the gates until Spring 2017, when we expect the project to be fully complete.

 NAJGA: Can you run us through how a typical visitor experience to the garden will play out, with the addition of the Cultural Village and the new garden spaces? 

SB: The visitor experience of the primary Garden will remain unchanged. It will be the same serene space so many people connect with. The difference after Cultural Crossing will be how visitors approach the Garden, and how they’re guided into that space.

KKAA - Entry Along Ticketing Pavilion

We provide frequent updates on our progress on the Cultural Crossing blog at http://culturalcrossing.com/stayupdated. We encourage potential visitors to join us when we reopen in next March, just in time for viewing the cherry blossoms.

The Garden is a magical place any time of year, and we know that adding the frame of Japanese culture, art, and education will help even more people enjoy this special place in a fresh, new way.

Cultural Crossing By Way Of Portland

Member Reviews: NAJGA In Minnesota, New York and North Carolina

NAJGA members Anita Royer and Emily Fronckowiak share their experiences as participants in the three regional NAJGA events held this year in Minnesota, New York and North Carolina. 

Anita Royer Doug Schneible
NAJGA members Anita Royer and Doug Schneible

As fall’s colors began unfolding, we looked forward to a stimulating New York Kykuit NAJGA symposium and garden tour.  We were not disappointed. What we experienced was simply “over the top”!  Fabulous knowledgeable speakers, coupled with an abundant sharing of historic, unique, and useful information not to mention awesome tours of some of Northeast’ finest Japanese gardens made it a spectacular event.

If you like Japanese gardens, if you like to rub elbows with fellow Japanese garden comrades and to learn more about America’s historic and surprising Japanese gardening beginnings, you won’t want to miss the next one. Kudos to Ken, Jeannette, Kim, Cynthia, and Brian, among many others for staging an unforgettable two days!

Anita Royer  / Schneible Fine Arts


Emily Fronck
Emily Fronckowiak

This summer, I had the good fortune of attending two of NAJGA’s workshops: “It’s All in the Details” skills and development workshop held last August in Minnesota’s Como Park Zoo and Conservancy, and “Branching Out in the SouthPruning Small trees and Shrubs in the Japanese Tradition” just this October in North Carolina’s Sarah P. Duke Gardens.

What a treat! I saw friends, made new ones, and thoroughly enjoyed visiting a number of wonderful Japanese gardens I had never been to. Both gardens are as well fostered as many others we toured.

Attending two workshops in the same year had great worth for me. The speakers were all different and I value the diverse teaching styles. Some practice their craft by following Japanese garden standards as done in Japan, and others are crafting an Americanized approach, coined as ‘aesthetic’. Aesthetic Pruners seem to have a sensitivity for their work and consider the client, garden designer and essence of the tree or plant in their practice. Both methods show respect for gardens and themselves which I am happy to be a part of.

I value the heart and support of the members of NAJGA and recommend attending regional tours and workshops in addition to the biannual conference as a line to inspiration and staying tapped in and turned on to all there is learn and grow.

Emily Fronckowiak / Designer and Aesthetic Pruner

Member Reviews: NAJGA In Minnesota, New York and North Carolina

Lighting Up the Japanese Garden At Night

Hiroshi Kira

As darkness cloak the garden earlier and stay on longer in autumn and winter, we catch up with NAJGA business member Hiroshi Kira of HK Lighting Group to get some insights about the possibility of extending our time spent in the Japanese garden during the shorter days of the year through the discreet and appropriate use of evening lighting.

NAJGA: What do you think has been the value / role of evening lighting in the Japanese gardens of yesterday and of today?

HK:  In ancient Japan, the garden evolved as philosophical expression of Buddhist monks who traditionally designed gardens in an abstract way, based on their imagination, symbolism and a series of thoughts originating from Shinto and Zen philosophies. A suitable definition of a Japanese garden would be: “The garden is not part of the structure (dwelling), but the structure is part of the garden.”

Andon in Portland Japanese Garden 002

Japanese gardens create a harmony between the human mind of the designer and the cultural experience of the participants. Since there were only limited light sources available in the past, Japanese gardens were primarily designed for experience of reflection and enjoyment during the day and on moonlit nights. They were also illuminated by oil lamps used in stone lanterns that were located as part of the gardens. In particular the moonlight created a play with shadows and light, accentuating parts of the garden differently at times, constantly changing as it wandered across the night sky. The effect was a natural, tranquil and harmonious atmospheric lighting against the backdrop of the dark night sky.

Today’s Japanese gardens still serve the same philosophical purpose, and since artificial lighting was not used traditionally in the gardens of the past, lighting gardens with modern luminaires has to take a subtle approach ( i.e. luminaires that are invisible during daytime), so as not to disturb the design ideas created the Japanese garden, and the harmony of the design and its cultural experience.

Any lighting designer is required to understand the essence of a Japanese garden first and have the necessary sensitivity while accentuating the lighting design. Words like soft scenic lighting, calmness, tranquility, and subtlety come to mind for the right approach.

NAJGA:  How does your company meet the lighting requirements of Japanese gardens today? What products / services are particularly suited for their purposes?

HK:  During the early time of the Japanese gardens, the moon and some fire-based lights were the main sources for the gardens after sunset. In this day and age, we have many sources of artificial light, including LED. The man-made provenance of such lighting is significant. From a philosophical perspective, we can conclude that, if humans are an integral part of nature, man-made light sources are also natural tools to provide light in contemporary Japanese gardens.

Andon with cherryHowever, we have to be vigilant about how to utilize these lights in order to preserve the original philosophy of the Japanese garden when it was designed. It is our belief that the lighting designer for a Japanese garden should not imitate the garden as it appears in day light, but rather recreate the same harmony and subtlety as on a moonlit night, bringing out the essence of the Japanese garden as if it were a stylized Japanese woodblock print.

We offer eclectic selections of luminaires to assist the professional lighting designer in realizing their design ideas to the fullest. These compact luminaires are highly adaptable and adjustable to minimize visibility during daytime. A wide range of accessories will assist the lighting designer in using light in a focused way, while avoiding trespassing light and glare or spillage issues. The end result is the creation of a subtle, scenic lighting effect.

NAJGA: Can you describe the lighting design philosophy / approach that you observe in your work with Japanese garden clients?

HK:  Commercial reasons increasingly encourage the use of Japanese gardens at night, and even on nights without much moon light, But the garden owners have strong ideas about making their garden usable at night, professional lighting designers and manufacturers of luminaires who wrongly apply lighting will ultimately disrupt the desired effect of realizing a sense of peace, harmony, and tranquility. In the deepest sense, it is the experience of the feeling that we are a part of nature that needs to be maintained through lighting.

Professional and sensitive lighting designers observe certain lighting principles when illuminating a Japanese garden. These principles are:

  • Andon in Portland Japanese Garden 003Illuminate so expertly so you never see the source of light.
  • Install luminaires elusively.
  • Create subtle garden lighting to prevent nighttime obscurity.
  • Create nighttime magic in harmony with the essence of a Japanese garden.
  • Don’t mimic daylight. The mantra is to use more fixtures and less wattage, for an effect that’s subtle and harmonious at night, so that one always feels part of the environment, not overpowered by it.
  • Help people feel comfortable outside in the dark, defining a garden’s boundaries, shape and volume with washes of light.
  • Light pathways just enough so you can see them safely.
  • Respect the night sky; it doesn’t take much night lighting for effect. Think about the full moon, which doesn’t give all that much light, but is sufficient.

NAJGA: Can you provide some examples of Japanese gardens you’ve worked with? Please describe how you worked with them and what products / services you provided?

Andon in Portland Japanese Garden 001HK:  For the Portland Japanese Garden, the objective was to have a portable luminaire that could be placed in specific areas of the garden and buildings during summer events, but removed afterwards so that the garden can once more purely revel in the glow of a moonlit sky. At the beginning of the process to develop the luminaire with the required function, we researched about the lights that have traditionally been used in Japanese gardens and found an example of portable lantern called a “roji andon” (tea garden lamp) which has the same function required for Portland. The roji andon is used as a path light in the tea garden after dark and provides a mild brightness to the periphery through washi paper.

Our challenge was to refine the traditional idea of the roji andon as a contemporary lighting product without losing the quality of the original. The developed luminaire is composed of weather-proof materials such as pre‐oxidized metal, oil‐stained wood, acrylic shade and using LED bulbs as the light source with rechargeable battery to provide portability and flexibility as required. The light from the luminaires contributes an effect of both solemnity and festivity at the Portland Japanese Garden.

NAJGA:  Aside from Japanese gardens, what are some of the most notable garden / outdoor installations your company has done?

  • Evening Island at the Chicago Botanical Garden (Lighting Design: Jan Moyer Design)
  • Disney Resorts, Orlando, Anaheim and Hawaii (Lighting Design: Lighting Design Alliance)
  • Garden by the Bay, Singapore (Lighting Design: Lighting Planners Associates)
  • NagaragawaRiver Cherry Promenade, Japan (Lighting Design: Kilt Planning)

Chicago Botanic GardenEvening Island at the Chicago Botanic Garden

Lighting Up the Japanese Garden At Night