Attention walkers and history enthusiasts, this Pasadena best kept secret will now be open to the public every Thursday!
By Chris Wood
Long considered the best private hideaway in Pasadena, this gem that was threatened by the extension of the 710 until recently, will finally be open to the public on a weekly basis starting Thursday, January 21, 2016.
The Storrier Stearns Japanese Garden represents a major phenomenon in American cultural history. The appreciation and assimilation of Japanese design concepts and aesthetics beginning in the late 19th century and subsiding with the outbreak of World War II. Japanese gardens (and gardening) played an integral role in the history of Japanese immigration and acculturation, particularly on the West Coast.
The creation of Japanese-style gardens reflected America’s fascination with Japanese culture and fueled the boom in Japanese-style garden construction across the country.
The Storrier Stearns Japanese Garden is a superb example of the many private gardens that were a part of that phenomenon and one of the few still intact today.
It was designed and created by Kinzuchi Fujii, a landscape designer and craftsman from Japan. His patrons, Charles and Ellamae Storrier Stearns, were wealthy benefactors of the arts and significant players in the cultural and civic life of Pasadena.
In its grand size of nearly two acres, the Storrier Stearns Japanese Garden contains many of the much admired design features found in the most lavish of Japanese-style gardens of its era.
Authentic twelve tatami mat Teahouse
This is the highlight of the garden, constructed using the original architectural plans and historic photographs. The original teahouse was built in Japan, then disassembled and shipped to Pasadena for reassembly in the garden. The twelve tatami mats covering the floor (3′ x 6′ each) signified a teahouse of great importance. Fujii’s son, Frank, possessed his father’s original plans and many photographs taken during the garden’s first construction, which proved to be an invaluable resource during the garden’s recent restoration.
Four original bridges plus a traditional cedar log waiting house.
Two large interconnected, irregularly shaped ponds.
25-foot hill with cascading waterfall.
Winding dry riverbed shaded by spreading sycamores & old oaks, with many tons of rocks & stones.
Granite statuary & stone lanterns, plus various gathering points & vista.
This Pasadena gem is a beautiful and charming retreat with a quiet and tranquil elegance. As Kendall Brown stated in his book, California Japanese-style Gardens:
…this is the genius of Kinzuchi Fujii: this was once a flat area of two tennis courts; now it is a masterwork.
- Owned by poet and preserver James Haddad and his wife Connie (read an interesting interview by Kathabela Wilson here).
- Time, Day and Cost: Open to the public every Thursday.
- Events: Once a month concerts, poetry readings, and art events will take place in the Garden. Check our listings for the latest events.
- Location: Storrier Stearns Japanese Garden.
We hope you appreciated this article. Before you move on, please consider supporting the Colorado Boulevard’s journalism.
Billionaires, hedge fund owners and local imposters have a powerful hold on the information that reaches the public. Colorado Boulevard stands to serve the public interest – not profit motives.
While fairness guides everything we do, we know there is a right and a wrong position in the fight against racism and climate crisis while supporting reproductive rights and social justice. We provide a fresh perspective on local politics – one so often missing from so-called ‘local’ journalism.
You can access Colorado Boulevard’s paywall-free journalism because of our unique reader-supported model. People like you, informed readers, keep us independent, beholden to no outside influence, and accessible to everyone.
Please consider supporting Colorado Boulevard today. Thank you. (Click to Support)