Jackson Park's Japanese Garden, formerly Osaka, now adopted as Phoenix Garden.
(The use of the term Osaka is proposed by some to refer just to the garden itself and to use the term Phoenix Garden, or Phoenix Japanese Garden for the larger historic footprint of Japanese structures and culture in the north part of Jackson Park's Wooded Island. Information on Garden of the Phoenix and related Project 120 is in the website given below.

This page brought to you by Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference Parks Committee and HPKCC's website, www.hydepark.org, with and on behalf of the Jackson Park Advisory Council and is written by Gary Ossewaarde. Join JPAC! Contact the HPKCC Parks Committee Chair. Note, this site has NO connection to booking of the garden for events etc. Also, this site has no connection with or with the website of Friends of the Phoenix Garden/Phoenix Garden and has no connection to any outreach of the City of Osaka Japan.

Preparer Gary Ossewaarde

Page contents. Map and how to get to the Garden. This site has no connection with permits, reservations or special events- visit http://www.chicagoparkdisdtrict.com.
hydepark.org
HPKCC Parks homepage.
Jackson Park/JPAC home. Historic Jackson Park. Doug Anderson's Lost Wooded Island
OSAKA PHOTO GALLERY and to more. Other photo sources.
Trish Morse's Osaka Garden Virtual Tour

Jackson/JPAC new independent website- http://www.jacksonparkadvisorycouncil.org.

Alert: the Darrow Bridge, between the parking lot south of the Museum and the path to Wooded Island and the Garden, is closed, needing repairs, since November 2013.

To see parts of this page in Estonian, visit http://blog.1800flowers.com/international/parks-osaka-et/

Friends of the Japanese Garden website has been http://www.friendsofthejapanesegarden.org, email japanesegardenfriends@gmail.com.
NEW WEBSITE (in progress) of the RENAMED FOUNDATION/ASSOCIATION Garden of the Phoenix. http://www.gardenofthephoenix.org. Contact at info@. Related Project 120 for the framework and activation of the park:
http://www.project120chicago.org. (The latter's presentations are on a subscription basis. Or visit the site of Why Design.)

March 13, 2014. Robert Karr of Project 120, Garden of the Phoenix, and Japan America Society of Chicago presetned on the Garden of the Phoenix (i.e. was Osaka) in Jackson Park reflecting upon 120 years of U.S.-Japanese relations in Chicago.
Friends of the Parks Walter Netsch Lecture Series. Project 120 seeks a revised vision or framework for the park and is raising funds to realize not just upgrades and conservancy of the Phoenix Garden but a major pavilion and visitors information center and other upgrades in the Music Court and other areas north of Wooded Island such as the Music Court. This was vetted at a public meeting in November 2013 (and to smaller groups from inception) but is still in exploratory stage. Concept renderings are by Why Design, Inc.

Invasives were replaced by 120/130 cherry and other bird friendly species in spring 2013 in an arc from the vicinity of the garden to east of Darrow Bridge and around the Columbian Basin (which was to have received cherry trees for the Columbian Expo, but it didn't happen).

Visit the installation in the Art Institute of Chicago of the remaining carved panels from the Wooded Island Phoenix Temple from the Columbian Exposition. The pieces were found in 1973 under the bleachers of Soldier field and subsequently dispersed to the Art Institute and University of Illinois Chicago. Information below.

Major planting took place October 26 2011 at the Garden. Jerry Levy (Wooded Island steward) writes: Yesterday was a fantastic day for the Garden and the adjacent area. The contractor under the Park District's supervision planted nine beautiful Cherry trees Prunus canadensis (sic) just to the north and right outside the entrance. They also planted three Crabtrees, Malus sargeantae (sic) two outside the gate and one inside it and six Serviceberries Amalanchier Alteas (sic) ( very large clumps) inside the entrance. The stone path inside the Garden has also been extended. The fall colors there are brilliant. You'll really enjoy it if you can get out there this weekend. Jerry Levy
Sadly, beavers got most of the trees. They were replaced and being anxiously watched in 2012.

To learn more about past programs by Friends of the Osaka Japanese Garden / Chicago Office Osaka Garden, visit this site that provides a link to the Friends of the Japanese Garden home page: http://osakacity.org/en/sisterCities/osakaGarden.aspx
(Note, the City of Osaka Office has closed.)

The new Osaka Garden waterfallLooking across Osaka Garden, moon brdge an laggon to Museum of Science and Industry, as they were in 2000, before garden reconstruction in 2002. George Rumsey

New waterfall (c. 12 foot drop) and waterfall-fed pools by moon bridge. Unfortunately, the flow is since much reduced due to zebra mussel clogging. Improvements were made in 2008. Right as the moon bridge etc were in 2000. Photos by George Rumsey
Top

Osaka Garden locator map

 

Osaka Garden is located on Wooded Island (Paul H. Douglas
Nature Sanctuary) in Jackson Park. Recommended parking is south
of the Museum, the Columbia
Drive lot--from Lake Shore Drive at Science Drive, 5800 South.
Walking or biking from the east, walk across
Clarence Darrow Bridge
(where Columbia Basin south of the Museum meets the lagoons) and
continue southwest to the North Bridge. The Garden is a short walk
south,
to your left (east)- you can't miss it.

You can also walk to the North Bridge from Cornell Drive (to the
west), or park in the Museum Garage ($) (P1) and walk around the
Museum, or take Hayes Drive (6300) to the lot just east of Cornell
(P3) and walk north through Wooded Island--although that is a fair
walk.

In this page:

Disclaimer, contacts and news

This website has no association with hosting of any private or other special events at the Garden, Wooded Island, or elsewhere in the Park, including the popular 63rd Bathing Pavilion. Call Chicago Park District Park Services, 312 742-5369. The Garden in its location, topography, set up, prohibition on traffic, and distant parking presents many difficulties to large events.
This website is not that of the Chicago Park District, Sister Cities Program of the City of Chicago, City of Osaka Chicago Office or any chamber of commerce or private organization or foundation promoting Japanese Gardens or the well being of Osaka Garden/Garden of the Phoenix in Jackson Park, Chicago or Friends of the Japanese Garden. It is associated with the site of Jackson Park Advisory Council (visit Jackson Park/JPAC homepage) and Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference Parks Committee. The website of Jackson Park Advisory Council is http://www.jacksonparkadvisorycouncil.org.

For a free tour, join Wooded Island Bird Tours, run by Audubon Chicago. Wednesdays at 7 am, Saturdays at 8 am. Meet at the Darrow Bridge south of MSI Columbia Basin.

The Chicago Architecture Foundation gives tours of the World's Columbian Exposition footprint that includes Osaka Garden ($). Four times a year the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs gives similar tours by bus from the Chicago Cultural Center, 78. W. Randolph.

The Garden is maintained by the Chicago Park District, South Region (Bobbie Beckam at Jackson Park Fieldhouse, 6401 S. Stony Island, 60637), Clauss Brothers including direct landscaping (and subcontracted volunteer experts). Trades and landscape 312 742-PLAY), the Park District Department of Natural Resources (and various other divisions. For security issues call the Chicago Police then Park District Police (ask for Ernest Griffin or Lorenzo Chew, Thomas Byrne districtwide director) and the fieldhouse and 911.

Access is completely open. But remember the Darrow and Wooded Island bridges are not be crossed by automobile, and Wooded Island is closed to private vehicular traffic.

In 2oo8 thanks to generous grants, the waterfall pump was replaced, the Torii Gate was repaired and cleaned, a felled bur oak replace, and cherry trees planted along with a rededication in October. The Regular cleaning will be necessary to maintain this pump, which also helps with Lagoon water quality.

A 501 conservancy has been established, Friends of the Japanese Garden. Get contacts via Gary at hpkcc@aol.com

News: Hyde Park's high-performing Murray Language Academy Principal Greg Mason has been selected to join two other Illinois principals to study 8 schools in Japan, in 5 prefectures/cities including Osaka, all expenses paid by the Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Educational Exchange Program. Murray is celebrating the 30th year of its Japanese language program.


WORKDAY AND DEMOS AUGUST 28 2010. FLYER

August 28, Saturday, 2-5 pm. Summer in Osaka Garden. Was wonderful-- volunteers and a contractor put in tons of ground cover and many shrubs and a couple tres, then learned about Japanese gardening, and saw judo and drumming demos.


Some links.... Current website is http://www.friendsofthejapanesegarden.org,under construction), japanesegardenfriends@gmail.com.

Visit
Osaka Garden (former www.osakagarden.org website, which is good and quite inclusive. although inactive). Other Osaka Garden sites: Museum of Science and Industry page with photos, (one) and (two) , by photographer and JPAC member David Solzman, City of Chicago/Department of Cultural Affairs/Sister Cities, (then head Robert Karr). See that of the international Japanese Gardens organization. More fine pictures, including from the 2002 Festival, are in the website of Mary Rose Shaughnessy.

Back to Jackson Park Home Page, Back to Jackson Park Hot Topics, To Lagoons and Restoration Project

To this site's Osaka Garden Photo Gallery: Summer 2002, Reconstruction Spring and Summer 2002. See more pics in the site of Mary Rose Shaughnessy, particularly those of the 2002 Osaka Garden Festival!

Story of Osaka Japanese Garden

by Gary M. Ossewaarde of Jackson Park Advisory Council

The site of the Japanese Garden (known formally as "Osaka" only since 1995) started with scraping and building up and outward the natural oak savannah sandbar (then a peninsula), to be known henceforth as Wooded Island, for the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition and constructed on what was now become an Island (with a bridge connection) a Ho-o-den (Phoenix Temple or hall--some say modeled on the Byodo-in Temple of Uji outside Kyoto (others say it was more a lake retreat or villa, befitting an island) for the government of Japan as its pavilion for the Exposition. It has been suggested that the "phoenix" emblem was a gesture to Chicago, which was resurrected like the mythical bird from the ashes of the Chicago Fire, an emblem adopted at the same time by the adjacent "reborn" University of Chicago. The Ho-o-den was located near (approximately the large lawn west of the modern garden), not in the present garden with tea house. 1893 The Tea House was located northeast, on the east side of the East Lagoon on the mainland. The living quarters for the builders, performers, craftsmen, representatives et al from Japan was located in the southwest corner of Wooded Island, amidst some of the oldest giant burr oaks in the Chicago area. That site was also a hunters' camp at some point. The four bright phoenix panels were by master sculptor Takamura Kuon.

Landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted was at first reluctant to accept the offer by the Japanese government to build a formal garden and temple with Ho-o-den (and a across-the-lagoon tea house) (all at its own expense) because he conceived the island as a rustic resting spot, a retreat from the bustle of the Fair. But the offer was too good for Fair architect/manager Daniel Burnham to resist. The pavilion and Ho-o-den) in fact blended harmoniously with nature in a way the rest of the Fair buildings clearly did not, and was highly popular. This raises the fascinating and eternal interplay and see-saw between a park as "passive" (and natural and pristine" vs active and ever changing. (Jackson Park is in most respects a "made" and remade environment even if much, especially the lagoons and island took their hint from the way it was in the late 19th century and kept a great many of the old trees, especially oaks, while adding thousands that were of new species.)

The Japanese exhibit and pavilion also helped introduce Americans to Japanese culture, religion, arts, and architecture at a time (post-Meiji Restoration) when Japan was especially anxious to show the world its power, modernization, and accomplishments. Frank Lloyd Wright was but one of several architects and artists influenced by the Phoenix Pavilion (and/or other aspects of Japanese culture and architecture present), but the impact on him was arguably transformational (-leading not only to prairie houses but large structures such as the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo, and it influenced his decorative arts). It's not only the exterior look and visible ("unmasked") structure (form following function), and combination of fine craftsmanship with simple, everyday materials, but also the interconnecting corridors and holistic flow of the "movable rooms" that influenced Wright and others.

The 1893 Ho-o-Den (Phoenix "Temple") consisted of three structures joined by covered walkway to form the shape of the phoenix bird, which it did resemble from ground level). The beams and joinery were part of the beauty and ornament. Inside were artifacts and treasures from three periods of Japanese history-scrolls, vases, decorative screens, writing materials, and musical instruments. A major feature was the lanterns-- both the elaborate stone ones and the paper lanterns at ceiling level. The elements and art were designed and crafted in Japan and brought over by steamer and train, along with carpenters, stone workers and gardeners. The construction itself was an activity that drew many visitors. A reporter wrote, "They move about serenely as if it were a pleasure to work."

After the Fair, the Ho-o-den Pavilion remained after most of the rest of the Fair was torn down or burned, and Olmsted, and then his sons redesigned the island, lagoons, and park. Today, one special lantern, placed now south of the current tea house, is probably the only original furnishing that remains--although some say this was made later as a replacement.

Rebirth: In 1933/4, Chicago and the PWA, with help from the government of Japan, constructed a traditional Nippon Tea House at the Century of Progress World's Fair on Chicago's near /mid-south lakefront and also created a garden on Wooded Island's northeast side and refurbished the Ho-o-den in a renovated north end of the Island. The actual site extended across what is now the lawn that forms a road loop west of the present garden. More Nippon Tea House material was brought to the site after Century of Progress closed. These were done to show appreciation for this special place and Chicago's gratitude to Japan 40 years after the previous fair. The Torii Gate, the Nippon Tea House, and lanterns from the Century of Progress was moved in 1935 to Wooded Island, near the Ho-o-den, and a traditional Japanese Garden was designed by George Shimoda and built thanks again to Japan. The garden on Wooded Island consisted as today of a double-pond with islands, a cascading waterfall, stone walkway, flowering cherry trees, iris, lily pads, a moon bridge, carp pools, inlaid step stone paths, rock formations, and beautifully carved stone lanterns.(Note that the shore was considerably changed and shortened by the WPA projects of the 1930s.)

Francis Fitzpatrick and her daughter managed the tea house concession. Theirs is an interesting story in itself. A total experience was created, with servers in traditional Japanese dress, etc. Fitzpatrick, and most of the servers, lived in Hyde Park. Their oral histories have been taken assembled by Alice Murata.

During World War II, the structures were boarded up, intended to be reopened after the war-- and they survived, contrary to urban legend, although one imagines there was little upkeep done.

The structures burned in two stages soon after start of the War. The first conflagration's cause is unknown, the second was started by two boys playing with matches in 1946. Two carved wood panel fragments of the Ho-o-den survived the fires. They "turned up" under the bleachers of Soldier Field in 1973. Two sections either before or then went to the Art Institute of Chicago and two went to University of Illinois at Chicago--these two in 2008 were donated to the Art Institute which in 2010 sent them for restoration to Litas Liparini Studio of Evanston as the Art Institute was competing renovation of its Japanese Art Galleries. The Phoenix panels were mounted there in August, 2011 and are now on permanent view.

The intent was to rebuild, and in 1947 the Chicago Park District unveiled a plan, but there was no public or monetary support.

Gradually, the Japanese garden site and Wooded Island became neglected and unsafe, even an attractant for unsavory elements and muggers, later gangs. Even much of the garden was eroded away lagoon shore action and overgrown with invasives. Yet, in its unkempt state it helped make Wooded Island one of the glories of the Lake Michigan Migratory Bird Flyway while Catbirds, robins, cardinals, red-wing blackbirds, and yellow warblers make it home. The Island became far more densely vegetated than it had been even in the late 1930s (judging from areal photos). In 1977 the Island was designated the Paul H. Douglas Nature Sanctuary--see the plaque inset in an ancient (granitic rhyolite?) rock by the main gate.

A second rebirth was sparked by two events in 1973. Chicago officialized a Sister City/Partner relationship with the city of Osaka, Japan. (The relationship really went back to 1956 ad 1958-when the City of Osaka Chicago Office was established, partnered with the Japan External Trade Organization.) One of the goals of the Sister Cities program became to revive the Japanese Garden in Jackson Park. Also, a photo exhibit of Japanese urban transit systems was held at McCormick Place.

In 1973 also, then-5th Ward Alderman Leon Despres persuaded his friend Douglas C. Anderson to begin his now renowned bird walks on the Island and other surrounding natural area in Jackson Park, in part to reclaim them for birders and the communities of Hyde Park, Woodlawn, and South Shore. Gradually, thanks in good measure to Doug and to picnics/People in the Park events held by the Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference and Open Lands, citizens and birders returned, rediscovered Osaka Garden, and demanded its restoration.

Also, by 1974, Jackson Park had been placed on the National Register of Historic Places. During that decade, the Park Distinct added new landscaping, stabilized the shoreline and either restored or reconstructed most of the original features.

During the 1970s the Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference and others held a series of highly popular festivals-picnics on the Island, calling attention to the value of the place and the need for the public to take ownership.

In 1977, Anderson persuaded officials to name the whole Island after his mentor, environmental and parks advocate (Indiana Dunes) Senator Paul H. Douglas, whose ashes Anderson scattered at the base of a Southern Catalpa, then surrounded by flowers. Efforts to restore the garden and a rebuild a simplified tea house reached fruition, starting with reopening in 1981, and 1983, (third rebirth) when the Garden restoration was completed and the garden rededicated. Featured were flowering trees, evergreens, shrubs and flowers. Other features included a pavilion, new moon bridge, rock waterfall, two granite symbolic boat docks, lanterns, landscaping. George Cooley, formerly a JPAC officer and Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference officer, shepherded planning and secured grants including federal funds for the Garden restoration. Japanese experts were brought in, including designer Kaneji Domoto. Many area groups and individuals have since tended the special palette of plants and trees, including rare pines, 4 red maples, and many plants including Jewelweed and Quince in the propitious color red.

In 1985, there emerged the most significant design since 1935. Mayor Harold Washington led Chicago delegation to the city of Chicago and the next year? Chicago and Osaka held a cultural exchange focusing on jazz. In 1988 Osaka Deputy Mayor Ota visited chicago and in 1990 Chicago exhibited a garden at the Osaka EXPO '90. In 1991, Lincoln Park Zoo presented Osaka's Tennoji Zoo with a Lion-tiled Macaque.

Fourth rebirth. The next phase was marked in 1993 with celebration of the Partner City 20th Anniversary, including Chicago Days in Osaka and painting of a mural for the International Terminal at O'hare by painter Hideo Nakai. Additional important dates for evolution and growth of the garden complex (initiated in 1991 with $100,000 in landscaping and preliminary shore protection--although the latter was insufficient to last) were 1992(-3), when the 20th anniversary of the Sister City relationship was celebrated and the Garden renamed Osaka Japanese Garden (1993), and 1994-5, when such additions as a new Torii traditional formal gate (Kobayashi & Associates of Seattle- but see box below) and fence, were dedicated, funded by the City of Osaka at $250,000, part of a total $400,000 gift, and constructed entirely without nails and by hand using tongue and groove methods. A major historical study and report were produced in 1992.

Gate dedication and renaming of the Garden for Osaka, was in 1995, attended by Osaka Deputy Mayor Sakaki, and was marked inter alia by a $9,3000 donation from Chicago toward Hanshin Earthquake Relief. Changes to the garden included new trees and plants and berming to reinforce the inner and outer pool concepts. The garden gradually became an international mecca, despite poor directional signage to it. It is a prime site for viewing local and migratory birds. It also presents an interesting set of microclimates and habitats as well as a contrast to the more rustic habitats of the rest of the Island. The garden did suffer from shore erosion, weak pool circulation due to the waterfall being too small, beaver damage at the end of the century, and frequent vandalism and abuse. Fortunately, the Tea House was built of naturally fire-resistant Douglas pine and its graffiti could be painted over quickly.

I wanted to also add that the gate was actually built by John Okumura's company, at that time it was Custom Cabinet Corporation. It was interesting to go to the site before it was built and to see the construction of it. My dad's company was always in Chicago, so the gate was actually made in Chicago. He worked with Kobayashi-san on this project.

Mary (Okumura?)

In 1997, Mayor Isomura and members of the Osaka City Council visited Chicago and gave cherry trees to the Chicago Park District. In 1998, the 25th anniversary of the sister city partnership was celebrated by a "Kyogen" performance and festival in the Osaka Garden. In 1999 Osaka participated in the Chicago Marathon including with flags, costumes, taiko drums. In 2000, the Osaka Garden Festival was repeated. In 2001 the City of Osaka participated in "Tribute to Ethnic Museum" at the Thompson Center. Joint celebrations continued for a while.

Keeping the garden and festivals going, preparing for a major renovation.

J. Skuba (MFA and PhD and sculptor, and Principal of Zoen Sekkei-Sha Associates of Lake Forest, IL , for information email sekkei-sha@earthlink.net. ) furnishes the following information to Jackson Park Advisory Council filling in some important happenings between the installation of the Gate and commencement of the 2002 renovation:

"First, a William Miller was hired as coordinator in Nov. 1996; his contract lapsed in 1997.

"Then from January 1999 until 2002, on advice of the highly respected Henri Bort, then Curator of Sansho-en at the Chicago Botanic Garden, Mr. J. Skuba and his firm was appointed coordinator of Osaka Garden and developed the protocol for pruning and maintenance by Karen Szyka [of CPD], Bill Coons and others who still (2012) oversee and work in the Garden-- "to create order out of chaos due to neglect, and [because] serious triage was necessary in advance of the [next ] Japanese Festival [to be] held in summer of 1999."

"In 2000, Mr. Skuba contracted to place and install stone Japanese lanterns donated under Shizuo Hori, Hori + Architects of Evanston. Skuba donated the funds for a new light box and roof for the historic Rankei Lantern arm and contracted with lantern-makers in Japan to recreate a new assembly. Skuba's firm installed it.

"Skuba about that time gave Dan Purciarello of CPD and whose oversight included the Garden), since retired, a list of recommended upgrades and recommended engaging Sadafumi Uchiyama, whose plan was implemented by Sada-san in 2002."

Fifth rebirth. In 2002 the garden was redesigned and reconstructed, with a master plan (only one-third realized at that time). It was hoped the new design would be more resistant to the above-mentioned problems caused in part by only partial execution of designs. Lost and not yet fully restored is the great variety of flowers and perennials, and the external shoreline continues to present problems. Also, it is hard to keep up the pump for the waterfall and that which helps maintain stable lagoon levels. And, you can no longer elect to hop from stump to stump on the way to the moon bridge in hope of losing your "demons". But the critical turtle island looks like a turtle and the moon bridge is not only wonderful, it lines up for great photo ops. Most conclude the garden is lovely. See Principles of a Japanese Hill Garden, below. More on the restoration below.

In 2008, after a hiatus in reestablishing a maintenance contract, and some less than satisfactory catch up pruning, parties including the City of Osaka Chicago Office, new contractors Clauss Bros., expert pruning supervisor Bill Coons, CPD supervisor Karen Szyka and CPD Dept. of Planning and Development took action. Main improvements included repair and cleaning of the Torii gate, numerous cherries (actually sprouts grown in this country as the Japanese cherry can no longer be brought into this country), replacement of a burr oak blown down in a storm, and most important replacement of the waterfall pump.

Rededication on October 18, 2008 (35th anniversary of the Sister City partnership) included dedication by the Vice Mayor of the City of Osaka and performances of a traditional "sit down" comedy (Kaishi "and two "Rakugo."

Everyone is aware that some shoring up will still be needed, and such gardens need permanent funding to make the intensive maintenance sustainable-- and high level of security. Any permanent oversight group will have to look at which garden template is to be the goal, bearing in mind that a Japanese garden is meant to be changing and evanescent through the seasons and years-- a never-ending work of art.

Taking on the Assignment was Friends of the Japanese Garden (leaders include Robert Karr and William Florida, president Sonya Cooke), William Coons (including contracted pruning), and Clauss Bros. (contractor for Chicago Park District).
In 2010-12, Friends did much planting, both inside the garden and in the lawn outside-- Japanese cherry have now joined other trees in commemorating the garden's past, relationships between the City of Osaka and Chicago, the Phoenix Temple (see below), and broader relations such as exemplified by the first plantings of the cherries in Washington, D.C. in 1912. Coordinated planning continues for further plantings and improvements, inside and well beyond the garden. Indeed, one should not stop with the Garden, but explore the whole Wooded Island and its Paul H. Douglas Nature Sanctuary, with restored quiet trails and prairie garden and wonder at the birds, dragonflies, flowers, trees and more.
By 2012, Friends had gone under the umbrella of the Phoenix Foundation (NY) and then emerged as Friends of the Phoenix Garden, and created a new foundation, Project 120 as they funded and planted up to 130 cherry trees (replacing invasives) in the lawn in front of the Garden and around the rim of the East Lagoon/Music Court area. They began to look at at least the north end of the park-- how could have and integrated framework and vision- and serve as a model for great urban parks, recalling the Columbian Exposition as an experimental incubator. They envisioned among other things a visitor/teaching pavilion at the parking lot, tours, concerts and more. They contracted Why Design to develop the concepts. And have still kept their eye on completing the restoration and enhancement of the Japanese Garden.

The Garden's theme, from 1893 to the present, is peace--between humans and nature, within people, with the spiritual realm, and between peoples. These themes are dear to the people of Osaka, Chicago, and the park's neighboring, diverse communities. Long may this garden continue. As the Osaka Garden Committee of Sister Cities International wrote, "A garden develops over time....it is lasting. The same is true of the relationships between people, nations and cultures. Every gardener knows that quiet observation and attention to nature facilitate the success of a garden. Likewise, peace and understanding facilitate our future."

 

History of the Phoenix Hall and the phoenix panels, recently restored and put on view

This paper by itself in pdf

Phoenixes from Columbian Exposition on View again at last

by Gary Ossewaarde

The Art Institute of Chicago’s Asian Galleries have become a fitting home for four carved and painted wooden panels that once were the highlight of Japan’s exhibit at the Columbian Exposition of 1893, the Hoh-o-den, in the north end of Jackson Park’s Wooded Island, just to the west of the modern Osaka Japanese Garden. After careful restoration, the panels are mounted on permanent view above display cases and the entry to a special contemplative room within the Japanese and Asian Galleries of the Weston Wing, Michigan Avenue first floor.

The panels (ramma), each of two planks, were deeply and elaborately carved and heavily painted and applied with gold leaf, as was commonly done to add brightness in Japanese temples. The two mythical birds on each panel, depicted as a cross between pheasant and peacock, are sharp-beaked. On one both phoenixes have open mouths, on two one’s mouth is open and the other closed (oppositely), and the final has both with closed mouth-- representing perhaps dichotomy and complement, yin and yang. Phoenixes are said to mate for life, living in pines and paulownia (a blue-flowered plant, where they prefer to land).

Phoenixes are said to appear in the realm when there is a great ruler. Since the Columbian Exposition followed Japan’s Meiji Restoration (opening up, modernization, and strong government), the phoenix was an especially appropriate emblem to display, and Japan was especially eager to show its culture, wares, modernization and strength to the world by donating pavilions and reproductions of temples and tea houses at international expositions. The Phoenix Hall was a highlight of the Fair, set apart on the Island that was intended in part to serve as a respite and elaborate garden. (The Tea House was on the mainland.) The Phoenix Hall (Hoh-o-den) was the first Japanese-style building in the U.S. and was modeled on the 11th century Byodo-in temple of Uji near Osaka. Skilled craftsmen were sent from Japan and lived during construction in a small village in the south part of Wooded Island. The phoenix panels were made by master sculptor Takamura Kuon (1852-1934). The Phoenix Hall made a special impression on Frank Lloyd Wright, who called special attention to it as, among other things, an “unmasked” structure revealing what can be done with fine craftsmanship and everyday materials, and its interconnecting corridors and holistic flow, in contrast to what he considered the reversion and stilted froth of most of the White City. Others recognized its importance—Harper’s printed the plan and had a reporter chronicle construction.

The 1893 Ho-o-Den (Phoenix "Temple") consisted of three structures joined by covered walkway to form the shape of the phoenix bird, which it did resemble from ground level). The beams and joinery were part of the beauty and ornament. Inside were artifacts and treasures from three periods of Japanese history-scrolls, vases, decorative screens, writing materials, and musical instruments. A major feature was the lanterns-- both the elaborate stone ones and the paper lanterns at ceiling level. The elements and art were designed and crafted in Japan and brought over by steamer and train, along with carpenters, stone workers and gardeners. The construction itself was an activity that drew many visitors. A reporter wrote, "They move about serenely as if it were a pleasure to work."

After the Fair, the temple and its panels were given to Chicago by the Japanese government. They suffered gradual neglect, and in 1935 the remaining structure was made a tea house serving food and beverages. A succession of controversially set fires occurred in the mid 1940s and destroyed the structure and severely damaged the panels, which were placed in storage by Chicago Park District- under the bleachers of Soldier Field. About 1973, they were found- two were sent to the Art Institute of Chicago and two were displayed in a hallway at UIC.

Eventually UIC realized money for restoration was unlikely UIC and now-emeritus UIC architecture chair David Sokol started to look for a new home, first choice being AIC. In 2005 he got an enthusiastic yes by Janice Katz, Associate Curator of Japanese Art at the Art Institute. The vision was to reunite, restore, and permanently display the panels when the Asian galleries were renovated. The panels were donated in 2008, gallery renovation begun, and in 2010 the panels were sent to be restored in by Litas Liparini Studio in Evanston. Restoration was very complex. Soot had to be removed without creating damage, beaks re-carved in linden based on clay molds, lost areas built up with gesso and pigment built up over gesso and micaceous replacement for gold applied so as to match present look and make the panels look “gracefully aged” rather than new. The panels were installed August 1 and 2 of 2011 and are now on permanent view beside other arts and crafts of Japan, sacred and secular, as in 1893. Today you can also visit, on Jackson Park’s Wooded Island, Osaka Japanese Garden with a Toro gate, tea house, real and replica 1893 stone lanterns and other objects. All are carefully tended by members of Friends of the Japanese Garden and the excellent contract firm Clauss Brothers.

 

 

A costumed dancer at the 2002 Osaka Garden Festival. Mary Rose Shaughnessy 

Remembering the Osaka Garden Festival (none currently- One was canceled due to to 9/11 in 2001 and the final was in 2003, Was under the Chicago Sister Cities program. Revival by the Friends of the Phoenix Garden is being considered, but may be different.)

In the late 1990's, an annual Osaka Garden Festival was organized by Robert Karr and associates, City of Osaka Chicago Office, and other many associates from several organizations, including Japanese-American arts, cultural, religious, restaurateur, and martial arts groups, the then City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs/Sister, Int'l, Chicago Park District, and (once) Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio with the Chicago Architecture Foundation and more recently commercial sponsors as well.

The arts, music, ceremonial and martial arts performances, and food were spectacular. It was held the second weekend of September.

Photo courtesy of Mary Rose Shaughnessy 2000. Visit her Osaka Garden page at her website.  

The principle and components of a Japanese hillside strolling garden (kyuushiki) is that you should not have a view of the whole from any one perspective but be refreshed and have your senses stimulated as you come around each twisting, looping turn and move past masking plants and trees. A garden is expected to change through the seasons and years and be evanescent. Important features include a turtle island in the pool, a moon bridge and walk over water, lanterns and statuary, and a waterfall. It brings together the components of nature: rock, water, hill/mountain, plant. Man-made elements are also included, usually cut-stone lanterns, a water basin, moon bridge and pavilion with Iromaya style roof--but man's domination is the opposite of what is intended. It establishes harmony through shakkei (borrowed scenery), in which views of neighboring trees and distant vistas are incorporated into the garden scene and experience. In fact, it is compressed landscape. All, including the plants, have symbolic references and spiritual effects. For example, by our taking a curved or zigzag path over water, the evil spirits that wear us down to fall away into the water, because they are said to travel only in straight lines; in addition, you are reminded to be ever agile and observant in life.

The design was skillfully carried out by experts highly knowledgeable of such associations and effects. This type of garden emerged during the Edo Period between 1615 and 1867.

Unfortunately, vandalism sometimes plague the Garden, to the point that fencing the whole Island was considered in the late 1990's. The sheet shoring along the shore of the interior pool and the East Lagoon was insufficient to guard against lagoon level fluctuations. The waterfall size and pump were not sufficient to keep the water fresh. Shore plantings were not kept up. Stopgap restorations ensued, including that of 1995. Some of the pines suffered infections.

The gate of the garden (ours in 1995- see above) proclaims the size and status of the garden--this one would be on the large, grand end of the spectrum.

The pavilion, simplified as it is, is both a classic Noh theater stage and an arbor for meditation, contemplation, rest, and observation--or a tea ceremony.

Stone water basin or laver, south of the pavilion, is for physical and spiritual/symbolic cleansing. The tsuku-bai is the kind positioned low on the ground along the path of stepping stones to a tea house and reflects the larger basin in front of a temple or shrine.

Turtle Island is the isle of happiness. Humans cannot, must not even try to, walk on it. It cannot but be viewed from afar, like the isle of immortals off the coast of China.

Moon Bridge. Bridges in Japanese gardens are supposed to be made only of natural materials (so imagine). It's not an accident that a link between this world and paradise is of natural materials. The high arch shows how difficult passage to the other world is--but there is a path nonetheless... Metal ornaments on rails of such bridges are called gyoboshi, "sacred gems."

Rocks and boulders are the bones of the earth. (See below on just how old our "bones" are, a refinement modern geological science and historical geography of the Midwest have allowed.) The rocks and stones are always chosen and placed first in planning and building the garden. Their placement is as critical as the path, contour and plants in determining the desired views. Stones are traditionally chosen for texture, color, and form and are given names--philosophical, religious, or poetic as inspired by the particular shape.

Kasuga Lantern from the 1893 World's Fair located north-northeast of the pavilion near the south gate. With pagoda-shaped top, it took its name from the Kasuga Shrine in Nara, Japan. Note the stag or deer panel. These lanterns are unique in taking one of four traditional symbols-- stag, doe, sun, or moon based on temple-compound offerings.

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The rocks of Osaka Garden (based partially on information in a geology tour of Hyde Park in October 2004 organized by the Hyde Park Historical Society)

Garden re-designer Sadafumiu Uchiyama and previous designers placed rocks in the garden that have special meanings in a Japanese Garden, but also reflect the geologic ages of rocks in or brought by man or glacier to Chicago.

Outside the Garden is a large stone with an identifying plaque in honor of late Senator Paul H. Douglas, for whom the Island is named the Douglas Nature Sanctuary and whose ashes were scattered in the garden. The stone is a glacial erratic, brought down by a glacier in a Pleistocene epoch ice age from Canada, Michigan's Upper Peninsula, or the Green Bay area. It is of rhyolite, a granite-like (but extruded) igneous rock (quartz-rich- 10%+, felsic, usually light-colored and fine-grained) from the time of joining of the Midwest to the Canadian Shield craton, 1.8-2.1 billion years ago. One approaches the garden on a gravel path lined with igneous-granite curb-blocks, then crosses a threshold (under the Torii gate) of Silurian Age dolostone c. 420 million years old, from a time when a vast coral reef formed in a shallow tropical sea and Chicago was maybe where Brazil is now. If one looked closely, one might find invertebrate fossils from this "age of fishes."

One continues through the Garden on paths of mixed gravel and purple-red "wasted granite" weathered out of bedrock at Wisconsin quarries. The path is curbed with blocks of quartzite, anciently metamorphosed from sandstone under great pressure until the grains fused--if this from the Bariboo Wisconsin area then the quartzite formed 2 billion years ago, when our part of the continent plowed into and joined onto the Canadian craton.

At the Moon Bridge and lower pond are large, irregular blocks, "moonstones". They are composed of gneiss, formed in the Morton, Minnesota area in a metamorphic event 3.6 billion years ago. The parent formation is the second oldest rock at surface in what is now the United States and these are the oldest rocks in the park. To the left is a glacial erratic that has an inclusion: another kind of rock fell into the cooling melt and was altered but not consumed.

Further on is a greenstone (metamorphosed basalt) boulder from or at least changed last in a volcanic event 2.6 billion years ago.

The wonderful stone lanterns are of Barre, Vermont granite, a popular stone throughout the States. The stone is a fine gray with flecks of black, pink, and glittering mica. This stone formed during continental collisions and separations of the past few hundred million years.

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2002 Restoration in conjunction with the Lagoon Restoration Project

It was recognized that at least shore stabilization and replanting should be undertaken as part of the ambitious lagoon restoration and Wooded Island restoration projects that started about 1999. Other funds suddenly became available in early 2002, including from Japan. However, the migratory bird season arrived before a great Japanese Garden expert and designer of Japanese gardens worldwide, Sadafumiu Uchiyama, could come from Oregon and personally oversee the engineering and craftsmen's work. Overseeing and planning was Park District expert Dan Purcharello. By that time, it was understood that a complete rebuilding of the lower reaches of the Garden was necessary, and both this and the specialist work took much more time than expected, barring the Garden to birders and viewers and users of the Garden. Yet, funds were not sufficient to do all the work thought desirable.

The sudden onset of this project with minimal communication to JPAC or Doug Anderson and other tour leaders caused great inconvenience, for which the Park District and project managers graciously apologized. In fact, lack of information on site may have encouraged several late-night break-ins and vandalism which occurred. The garden was reopened by the second week in August. At the August 12 JPAC meeting, members proclaimed the results to be most beautiful. It is hoped that the new protections to the shore, new waterfall and pool, and newly stabilized lagoon levels should prevent previous recurrent problems.

The project included draining and lining the interior pool, giving it sheet steel edge protection, enlarging and repositioning the waterfall, new access to the moon bridge, and new lagoon shore planting at the newly stabilized lagoon water level. The new waterfall has five times the volume of the former and now adds the sonic effect which is part of a traditional garden. There was little change in the main garden vegetation template. Overseeing much of the work were noted Japanese bonsai experts led by Mr. Uchiyama, then with the Portland, Oregon Japanese Garden and formerly the Anderson Garden in Rockford. The contractor was Clauss Brothers, which has remained under contract for upkeep.

Thought must be taken before there are further upgrades, including new planting. Special irises in the mudflat end of the pool have been installed. There will be more "partnership opportunities."

View our pictures of before and after. Another good site is that of JPAC member David Solzman, parked in the site of Museum of Science and Industry website, including a picture gallery. See more pics in the site of JPAC and HPKCC member Mary Rose Shaughnessy. The City of Chicago's site (look for Sister Cities) and the Japanese Gardens organization have additional material.

 

Some other Japanese gardens in the United States and their websites

North American Japanese Garden Association (NAJGA)- fairly new. http://www.najga.org. Membership is encouraged. Their Chicago area Host Garden is the Chicago Botanic Garden.

Note- the site known as "www.OsakaGarden.org" is a Japanese and other gardening business and reference site and has no connection with the Garden in Jackson Park.

Anderson Gardens in Rockford, Illinois (well worth the trip!)

Chicago Botanic Garden in Glencoe, Illinois north of Chicago

Japanese Gardens at Holy Mountain Trading, San Francisco, California

Japanese Garden in Portland, Oregon (Mr. Uchiyama's locale and probably the best Japanese garden outside Japan.) (this outstanding website may have to be navigated, it is rather complex)

Morikama Museum and Japanese Gardens, Del Ray Florida (site needs navigation)

Seiwa-en, St. Louis, Missouri

Sujir Japanese Garden in Delaware Park, Buffalo, New York (site may need navigation)

There is also a Japanese garden in northern Indiana

Cannon-Eger, K.T. in http://www.us-japanesegardens.org

Cheevers, Robert. http://www.jgarden.org

 

See also the Roth Journal of Japanese Gardening. Note, if you want to start even a miniature one, note that a Japanese garden is among the world's most labor and material intensive gardens in the world.

There also seem to be many who have studied the matter long and seriously including in Japan, set up Japanese Gardens and landscape businesses featuring such gardens. This site cannot be a clearinghouse or provide promotion for such businesses, but we can give a few examples that have contacted us.

Treeline Studio: http://www.treeline-studio.com. JP van Herik studied long in Japan and recently has set up business in Chicagoland. One of his projects in Kyoto, Japan is well-known Kyoen: http://www.kyouen.jp/english/index.html.

 

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Report by Akiri Rokumoto on April 17, 2010

From Osaka City Chicago Office online publication- http://osakacity.org/en/chicagoOffice/news.aspx?newsid=622

On a cool but beautifully sunny Saturday morning on the 17th of April, over 50 people gathered at the Osaka Japanese Garden in Chicago’s Jackson Park. This event focused around the urgent need to preserve the lagoon shore line of this garden, where the grass was starting to directly meet water. While the young strong men of the University of Chicago Football team moved rocks, many gardeners cleaned up winter remains and planted in areas surrounding the pond where bare spots were found.

The Osaka Japanese garden has connections back to the 1893 Columbia World Exposition, and it embodies a unique part of Chicago history and evolution, as well as a piece of the City of Osaka. Although there could have been bigger weddings in the past two years, perhaps the last time this many people gathered in the garden was the Garden Rededication Ceremony of 2008. In the fall of 2008, in commemoration of the 35th anniversary of sister city relationship between Chicago and Osaka, representatives from both cities planted a white oak tree that now stands quietly outside the main gate.

The Friends of the Japanese Garden, the organizer of this event is working to breathe new life into this unique site by way of gathering interest and funding that would lead to organizing/executing a long term vision for the improvement on this garden. Joining hands with passionate gardeners, Japan enthusiasts, organizations like the Chi Upsilon team, the Shorniji Kempo group, the Jackson Park Advisory Council together with the Chicago Park district and the City of Osaka office, Friends of the Garden will continue to bring new life and activity to the Osaka Japanese Garden.

We look forward to seeing you at the garden for our next event. If you have any questions or would like to be on the Garden mailing list, please contact info@osakacity.org.

We thank our April garden work participants for donating their time, expertise, food, drinks as well as gardening equipments.

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