Project Fact Sheet – The Japanese Heritage Shōya House at The Huntington


The Japanese Heritage Shōya House is a restored residential compound from 18th-century rural Japan that opens to the public on Saturday, Oct. 21, 2023.


The historic Japanese Garden at The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens in San Marino, California.

Key Features

House square footage: 3,000

Compound size: 2 acres

Compound major features:

  • House (originally built around 1700; restored with new elements in 2020–23)
  • Gatehouse (replica based on original design)
  • Courtyard
  • Agricultural fields
  • Kitchen garden
  • Inner courtyard with a pond
  • Irrigation canal

Key Dates

November 2018: Dismantle Shōya House in Japan

Spring 2019: Restoration in Japan

December 2019: Ship to the United States

August 2020: Groundbreaking

May 19, 2021: Jōtõshiki, a Shinto ceremony held to bless the construction project

April 2022: Completion of structure

Summer 2022: Garden construction underway

October 21, 2023: Public opening


$10.2 million (funded entirely by philanthropic support)

Project Team

The Huntington

Nicole Cavender, Telleen/Jorgensen Director of the Botanical Gardens

Robert Hori, Associate Director of Cultural Programs

Thomas Polansky, Vice President for Operations and Facilities

Audrey Ng, Facilities and Security Project Manager


Yoshiaki Nakamura, Kohseki/Nakamura Sotoji Komuten (Kyoto, Japan)

Masao Mike Okamoto, U.S. Architect of Record

Japanese Carpentry Team

Uzukubo Kobo

Yamakura Kensetsu


Garden Restoration

Takuhiro Yamada, Hanatoyo Landscape Co. Ltd. (Kyoto, Japan)


Garden Restoration: Hanatoyo

P2S Engineering: MEP Engineer

Civil Engineer: Psomas

Structural Engineer: John A. Martin & Associates

U.S. General Contractor: Snyder Langston

Japanese Contractor: Kohseki

Sustainability Highlights

  • Adaptive use of an existing structure
  • The complex meets the performance objectives of California’s Building Energy Code, Title 24
  • Energy-efficient lighting and light control systems
  • Water-efficient plumbing systems
  • Stormwater retention basin within site landscaping

Architectural History of The Huntington’s Japanese Garden

The building of the Japanese Garden began in 1911 and was completed in 1912. The garden, which is currently 12 acres, was inspired by the widespread Western fascination with Asian culture in the early 1900s. Henry E. Huntington purchased many of the garden’s plants and ornamental fixtures, as well as the Japanese House, from a failed commercial tea garden in Pasadena, located at the northeast corner of Fair Oaks Avenue and California Boulevard. When The Huntington opened to the public in 1928, the Japanese Garden became a major draw for visitors. Features such as the bell tower and bridge were newly built for the garden by Japanese American craftspeople.

By World War II, staffing shortages—including those resulting from the incarceration of Japanese American employees—and the political climate led to the closure of parts of the Japanese Garden, and the Japanese House fell into disrepair. In the 1950s, members of the San Marino League helped support the refurbishment of the buildings and surrounding landscape.

In 1968, The Huntington expanded the Japanese Garden to include a bonsai collection, which now numbers in the hundreds, and a rock garden, the Zen Court. Since 1990, The Huntington has served as the Southern California site for the Golden State Bonsai Federation.

The ceremonial teahouse, called Seifū-an (the Arbor of Pure Breeze), was built in Kyoto in the 1960s and donated to The Huntington by the Pasadena Buddhist Temple. In 2010, the teahouse made a return trip to Japan for restoration, overseen by Kyoto-based architect Yoshiaki Nakamura (whose father built the original structure). It was then shipped back to San Marino and reassembled.

In 2011, a team of architects with backgrounds in historic renovation, horticulturists, landscape architects, engineers, and Japanese craftsmen undertook a yearlong, large-scale restoration of the historic core of the garden. The project included repairs to the central pond system and water infrastructure, along with increasing pathway accessibility and renovating the original faux bois (false wood) ornamental trellises.

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Updated 9/2023


Keisha Raines, 626-405-2246,

Thea M. Page, 626-405-2260,