Professional Studies and Fine Arts

Professional Studies and Fine Arts

Japanese Friendship Garden Pavilion Building Unveiled

Japanese Friendship Garden Pavilion Building Unveiled

The Japanese Friendship Garden in Balboa Park underwent a major expansion before the Balboa Park Centennial Celebration. Included in this expansion was a beautiful new Inamori Pavilion Building that was designed by Professor Kotaro Nakamura, the Director of the San Diego State University School of Art and Design.

The building was made possible by a donation from Dr. Kazuo Inamori, who is also the founder of the Kyocera Corporation and international Kyoto Prize.

Nakamura’s Vision

Surrounded by a koi pond, the building was designed in authentic Japanese style called Sukiya and serves as a multi-purpose room for lectures, exhibitions, weddings and more. It is a project Nakamura has taken great pride in.

“For the Japanese-American community in San Diego and the San Diego community at large, this (building) will be there many years for people to enjoy and to create a friendship between the two countries,” said Nakamura. “It’s a very meaningful project for me and I was fortunate to be able to contribute to this.”

Nakamura grew up in Japan and came to the SDSU as a graduate student, before embarking on a 30-year career as an architect. Despite his experience, Nakamura explained that he spent lots of time studying traditional Japanese architecture, so he could design the building to be as authentic as possible.

“There are lots of Japanese-looking buildings but there are not too many authentic post and beam structures,” Nakamura said.

Authentic Japanese-Style Architecture

He ensured this building would be authentic by using Alaskan Yellow Cedar for the post and beams that support the structure. While the wood was more expensive, it is traditionally used in Japanese buildings because it is strong and can withstand the elements.

Some people were originally concerned about the exposed wood looking aged over time, but Nakamura explained that was an important part of Japanese culture.

“Ageing is a part of the aesthetics in Japan,” Nakamura said. “It is a principle called “wabi-sabi” that means accepting the beauty of age and not going against natural order. The beauty is that we are part of that time and life is not permanent, we are born and will die but this building will stand.”

More Information

The Japanese Friendship Garden has been expanded to 11-acres and now also includes a 200 Cherry Tree Grove, a Tea and Herb Garden, a Children’s Garden and much more. It is open seven days a week from 10 AM to 3:30 PM for small admission fee.

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