Designer's Perspective: An Essay from "The Gardens of Juki Iida" Part I ~ Translations
By Mark Bourne
The following essay is translated from Iida Jūki Teien Sakuhinshū, (The Gardens of Juki Iida), published in 1980, three years after Iida's death. The East Asian Library at the University of Washington has a copy of this book available in the open stacks.
Iida's writing is challenging to translate in places, and in other places he used specialist terminology that adds richness in the original, but does not translate easily. Rather than adding footnotes for all of these items in the original text, they will be added as a separate blog post
Finally, I would like to thank Christopher Kessler, a friend of mine from Japanese studies at the University of Washington, for his generous help in proofreading and refining this translation.
-Mark Bourne (translator)
Japanese Garden in the University of Washington Arboretum
United States, Seattle Spring, 1960 (Showa 35)
Japanese-style stroll garden with pond, tea garden
Approximately 4.9 acres (6,000 tsubo)
This garden commemorates 100 years of friendship between Japan and the United States; the job was offered to me by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government. The site was adjacent to a long north-south public road, with the northwest corner enclosed by a large wooded slope. It was an ideal location for a Japanese garden.
After some consideration, William Yorozu (second-generation Japanese-American) was selected as the contractor for planting, Dick Yamasaki for stone arrangements, and Kei Ishimitsu for buildings. At a later date we met at the project site, and I instructed each of them how features like the artificial hill and pond would be laid out.
For the garden stones, I decided to use rock from Bandera Mountain, a magnificent young peak that is thus-far untouched by human hand, located about 50 miles east of Seattle on the Snoqualmie River. This stone appears much like granite that can be found in the Kamioshima area of Tsukuba Prefecture, however it has large patterns and is rather better than that of Tsukuba.
I made an overall tour of the local nurseries looking for garden plants, but could find no broad-leaved evergreens. I think this is because the soil quality in this region is not suitable for those plants. There were many varieties of evergreen conifers and deciduous trees that I felt would work suitably, but they were all very well-behaved and none of them were taller than three meters. With my inspections completed I briefly returned to Japan.
When I arrived back to the US with Mr. Nobumasa Kitamura on March 7, 1961, the pond had been largely completed and a considerable number of the garden stones had already been brought in, which meant that we were immediately able to work on placing the stones. Kitamura was responsible of setting the stones around the pond, the main island, and the peninsula, and I took charge of the head of the waterfall, the cascading stream, and the shallows.
When the time came for placing the plants, we were unable to harmonize it with the stone arrangements given that the trees were all saplings. So, keeping in mind the future look of the garden, we planted upright trees at shallow angles, and removed lower branches from trees where I thought to have longer views. It was rather odd, if I do say so myself.
Fortunately, we were able to find a number 7-to-8-foot tall firs and yews, and so it was possible to plant the area above the waterfall and around the 13-tier pagoda with these trees. We planted the pond banks and the area of the main island with many 4-to-5-foot tall pines, using red pine, black pine, shore pine, white pine, but in any case, we'll have to wait at least ten years for the plants to mature
I added roughly another ten feet of soil to the (height of the) hill in the southern part of the garden, and at a short distance from the peak, I created a waterfall that is quite natural-looking, rather than being made in the style of a garden; the stream flows diagonally and its elevation changes by as much as six feet. At the head of the waterfall, the stream is like a mountain cascade, and as it approaches the pond the stone arrangements accordingly become more gentle. The highest part of the waterfall is as much as 35 feet from the surface of the pond.
The pond is roughly two-thirds of an acre in size, and to some degree incorporates elements of a Momoyama-style garden into a Japanese style pond-stroll garden. In addition to including stepping stones, a zig-zag bridge, an earthen bridge, and a large pebbled shore, many types of stone lanterns were also placed.
In the garden (roji) attached to the chashitsu donated by the City of Tokyo, we placed an Oribe-style stone lantern and a water basin carved from a natural boulder that were also donated. In that area Japanese cedars and maples were planted, with moss laid out beneath the pachysandra and salal.
With the future in mind, the hillside west of the pond was planted with 70 Akebono cherry saplings (about 5-6 feet tall) donated by the Japanese Association.
On June 5, the garden was celebrated with an opening ceremony.
Mark Bourne trained in Kyoto as a master Japanese garden designer, and holds a Master's of Science in Architectural Theory from the University of Washington. Mark designs and builds Japanese gardens as the owner of Windsmith Design.
Images and the original (Japanese) text are from:
Nihon Teien Kyōkai. Iida Jūki Teien Sakuhinshū. Tōkyō; 東京 :: Sōgensha; 創元社, 1980.