The Storrier Stearns Japanese Garden is a gorgeous retreat from the city life that surrounds it. As soon as you walk through its gates, you are instantly greeted with serenity. Its constructed bridges, traditional cedar log house, and lush gardens are surrounded by two ponds full of koi fish. As you take in the landscape, it’s clear that dedication and patience went into this tranquil masterpiece.
The grand history behind this garden proves this to be so. The Storrier Stearns Japanese Garden was created by Kinzuchi Fujii for Charles and Ellamae Storrier Stearns, who were patrons of the arts. Charles and Ellamae held great admiration for Fujii, and hired him in 1935 to design the garden. The construction of his vision began in 1937.
The Man Behind The Vision
Fujii was a carpenter and craftsman known for designing Japanese gardens for Americans, which earned him a respected reputation in Hollywood, Ojai, and Santa Barbara. In fact, he designed and built Japanese landscapes all across Southern California during the first half of the 20th century.
Fujii was able to supervise the construction stages of The Storrier Stearns Japanese Garden, and it was almost completed until tragedy occurred. In 1941, Japanese bombers attacked Pearl Harbor and the U.S. entered World War II. This caused many Japanese Americans to be wrongly targeted and persecuted. Thousands of innocent people with Japanese descent were forced into internment camps—including Kinzuchi Fujii.
Heartbreakingly, the final phase of the garden was completed without Fujii.
The Future Of The Storrier Stearns Japanese Garden
After Kinzuchi Fujii was released from the internment camp, his whereabouts became unknown. Over time, the garden went through several ups and downs. It eventually fell into decline, was sold at an auction, and even faced an alleged arson. Its luck eventually changed once Jim Haddad and his wife, Connie, inherited the garden. After learning its history, they knew they had to uphold its legacy.
They combined forces with Takeo Uesigi, a well-renowned expert on Japanese garden design to restore the garden. In a twist of fate, they were able to get in touch with Kinzuchi Fujii’s son Frank, who provided his father’s authentic photos and original plans—a significant tool in the garden’s proper restoration.
Today, The Storrier Stearns Japanese Garden is known as Kinzuchi Fujii’s final remaining garden.
The past life of the garden is full of devastation and triumph. Currently, it emits beauty and honor. The garden is now kept up by the Haddads and local volunteers. With love and support, this garden is able to thrive and maintain the legacy of Fujii. If you’re interested in supporting the garden, you can donate here.
For those who wish to visit The Storrier Stearns Japanese Garden, its is open Friday and Saturday during the evenings, and Sundays in the day. Visit their events page for full information and registration.
Location: 270 Arlington Drive, Pasadena, CA 91105