Japanese Pool viewed
through the Obata Gate
For nearly 70
years Garden visitors have been enchanted by the serene pool, waterfalls, lanterns and stepping stones of our Japanese Pool. It
provides an elegant home for many of our Japanese plant specimens and a
thriving population of native newts and frogs.
Horticulturist Elaine Sedlack has cared
for the Garden's Asian collection for many years and she shares the history of
this unique Garden feature, "When the Golden Gate
International Exposition on Treasure Island closed in 1939, the
Japanese exhibit (see photo)
was donated to the Garden on behalf of the
Japanese Government and with the aid of a donation from the UC Japanese Alumni Association. The exhibit was comprised of stone from Japan with lanterns and a bridge displayed as a Japanese garden and pool. Kaneji Domoto, a prominent landscape architect in the Bay Area, assisted in designing the Japanese gardens at the Exposition. He also designed the reinterpretation of the display, supervising Japanese workmen as they placed about 150 boulders to create the waterfalls and pool in the Garden in 1941."
The pool was destroyed in October 1962 when it rained 15 inches in just three days. Boulders and lanterns were swept away by a raging Strawberry Creek. Many of the original boulders were recovered along with one original Yukimi-gata (snow-viewing) lantern. The lantern stands by the pool today; a missing collar is a gentle reminder of the October destruction.
Well-known Japanese-American artist Chiura Obata
was later honored at the entrance to the pool with the Obata Gate, a
Japanese mountain-style gate
designed by Paul Discoe and donated by landscape architect Geraldine Knight
Scott in 1998. In February 2000 Mary and Richard Schroter donated an antique
Tachi-gata stone (Kasuga-style lantern) dedicated to Haruko Obata (wife of Chiura Obata), a respected teacher
of Ikebana, the art of traditional Japanese flower arranging.
To learn more about our Japanese treasures visit our new website page
. We've assembled links to articles about the history of our Japanese Pool, photos of the Golden Gate
International Exposition, a panorama and a photo slideshow of the Japanese Pool.
Japanese Horticultural Treasures
the Garden's horticultural treasures are nearly 1000 specimens of Japanese
, over half of which are of documented wild origin. They provide great
seasonal interest to the landscape beginning with the showy azalea bloom in spring, the maple
color in fall and the sculptural beauty of the enormous Japanese cedar (Cryptomeria japonica 'Elegans'
) in winter. This cultivar of Japanese cedar (pictured in Membership Matters below)
reposes in a graceful sprawl at the edge of the
Garden lawns and is related to our redwoods. The deep burgundy winter foliage of Cryptomeria
adds a spark of color to the Garden's winter palette. We also have a growing collection of herbaceous plants and woodland plants from Japan.
Flowers of the Four Seasons at BAM/PFA
Complement your visit to the historic Japanese pool and
gardens by making a trip down the hill to view one of the most significant
collections of Japanese art in North America. Flowers of the Four Seasons: Ten Centuries of Art
from the Clark Center
for Japanese Art and Culture, on
view at BAM/PFA
through December 12, features over 110 works of art, ranging from the late Heian period (794-1185) to the
twenty-first century. UC Botanical Garden
members receive free admission to BAM/PFA on Thursday, September 9 and
Thursday, October 14
, with guided tours of the exhibition each day at 12:15
p.m. Plus- current UC Botanical
Garden members can take 20% off a BAM/PFA membership at the $50 level and above
through the duration of the exhibition.
Flowers in Japanese Art and Culture
September 8 | 1-2:30 pm | Botanical Garden
In collaboration with the Berkeley Art Museum's exhibit Flowers of the Four Seasons
, the Garden is offering a special tour
of Japanese plants as depicted in art with Horticulturist Elaine Sedlack.
required: $10, Free UCBG/BAM members. Japanese Koto Music in the Grove
September 16 | 5:30-7 pm | Botanical Garden
the beautiful sounds of the Japanese Koto, a long, stringed instrument
made from the Empress Tree (Paulownia tomentosa
), with mother and son duo Shirley Muramoto and
Brian Wong. Read more about Muramoto in How Japanese Americans Preserved Traditions Behind Barbed Wire
, a UC Berkeley NewsCenter article by Cathy Cockrell.
$12 members, UC staff, students and faculty & BAM membersRed Leaves and Frog Feet--the Literary Japanese Maple
October 14 |
1-2:30 pm | Botanical Garden
Liza Dalby, celebrated
author and anthropologist specializing in Japanese culture and Berkeley
resident, will speak on Japanese literature and art and the
use of the natural world to evoke meaning and metaphor.
Free with Garden Admission, Free UCBG/BAM members.