• The Japanese House has been an iconic feature at The Huntington
for the last 100 years. Components of the house were created in Japan,
then shipped to California around 1904 and assembled for George T. Marsh
(1857–1932), who had bought it for his commercial Japanese garden in
Pasadena. A few exterior details, notably the raised leaf patterns on
the protruding crossbeams at the main entrance, reveal the slightly
ornate taste of the late Meiji (1868–1912) period. Henry E. Huntington
(1850–1927) purchased it in 1911.
• The Huntington’s new authentic ceremonial teahouse, called Seifu-an
(Arbor of Pure Breeze), was donated to The Huntington by the Pasadena
Buddhist Temple in 2010. Built in Kyoto in 1964, the small structure is
set within a new, traditionally landscaped tea garden that features a
winding stream, a “waiting bench” (koshikake machiai), and picturesque
views of the San Gabriel Mountains.
• Water plays a crucial role in a Japanese garden. In The Huntington’s
garden there is a central series of koi-filled ponds as well as a new
stream in the ceremonial tea garden and a new waterfall to the south of
the Japanese House.
• In the center of the historic core of the garden, the moon bridge—so
called because the bridge and its reflection in the pond resemble a full
moon—was commissioned by Huntington and built by Pasadena craftsman
Toichiro Kawai (1860–1943). It was painted bright red for years—a color
fashionable in American versions of Asian gardens at the time. In 1992
it was stripped and allowed to return to the natural gray-brown of the
solid hardwood structure, a color more common to moon bridges found in
• A tile-capped wall surrounds a Zen Garden, added in 1968. It includes a
stand of ginko trees and a raked-gravel dry garden (karesansui) that
evokes a flowing stream.
• A bonsai court was added to The Huntington’s garden in 1968 and then
expanded in 2010. Its two sections now display 70 mature examples of the
Japanese art of trees pruned on a miniature scale in shallow pots to
represent ancient tree forms and natural, elegant lines.
• Suiseki, also known as “viewing stones,” are stones that have been found
in nature and then displayed on carefully wrought bases for best
effect. They are beautiful to look at, and may suggest something such
as a distant mountain, animal, or human figure. There are several
suiseki on display in The Huntington’s Japanese Garden in a space that
was added in 2010.
• Life-size half-dog, half-lion figures, originating in Buddhist
mythology, were used in ancient China to guard the entrance to important
residences. At The Huntington, there is a pair at each main entry to
the Japanese Garden.
• Bells are common on temple grounds in Japan. The bell at The Huntington
was cast in 1776 for Kongo Buji Temple on Mt. Koya in Japan. The bell
house was built around 1913.
• Perfect for taking in one of the most famous views at The Huntington is
the wisteria terrace shaded by hundred-year-old vines that are in full
bloom in early sping, spiraling around newly restored faux-bois (false
• At the southern end of the garden is a bamboo forest that visitors can explore via a winding path.
• There are two stone water basins (tsukubai) in the garden. One is near
the teahouse, to be used for ceremonial cleansing, and the other is near
the Japanese House.
• Garden lanterns are typical in Japanese landscapes. There are 14 stone and two metal lanterns in the garden.
• Pagodas replicate in miniature the buildings in temple complexes in Japan. There are three in the garden.
• Japanese gardens sometimes include a miniature house or shrine to the
“spirit of the lake” to bring good fortune to the garden’s owner. There
is a spirit shrine on a small island in the southern part of the central
pond system of the garden.