Japanese Garden Grows With Gifts, Project Expected to Reach Completion by February

Japanese Garden Grows With Gifts, Project Expected to Reach Completion by February
George Aratani, chairman emeritus of Mikasa and chairman of Kenwood Americas, has pledged $300,000 toward construction of a Japanese garden near the CLA building.
A rendering of the anticipated George and Sakaye Aratani Japanese Garden.

Those in search of a tranquil, exotic spot to enjoy a brown bag lunch or break away from the office or classroom will look no further come summer 2003, when construction of a scenic Japanese garden is expected to reach completion.

The pond behind the Classroom/Laboratory/Administration building and next to the Rose Garden that was formed by a natural spring on campus was drained and partitioned off as a demolished construction site about a month ago.

Once transformed, the 1.3 acre George and Sakaye Aratani Japanese Garden will flourish with bonsai pine, sculptured rock, sasa bamboo, zoysia grass and other traditional Asian flora. A large pond, complete with a running waterfall, two overlooking bridges, walkways, a fountain, small amphitheater and new lighting will create a small slice of peaceful paradise hidden within the campus.

?The subject of creating a Japanese garden in the core of the campus came up and I was instantly drawn to the idea,? said George Aratani, chairman emeritus of Mikasa and chairman of Kenwood Americas, who has pledged $300,000 toward building the garden. ?It would be the perfect thing to improve the main campus area, providing beauty and serenity to the academic setting to be enjoyed by generations of students and campus visitors.?

Although Aratani?s father, Setsuo, created a major agribusiness industry in Southern California, the businesses were lost during events following Dec. 7, 1941. After release from the internment camp, Aratani set about rebuilding his father?s dynasty of success by forging a new path and starting companies that produced china, crystal and gift items (Mikasa), medical supplies (AMCO) and consumer audio electronics (Kenwood).

In addition to Aratani?s gift, a generous donation of $100,000 from The Michi Weglyn Estate will help to ensure the Japanese garden project fully blossoms. Weglyn was a prominent Japanese American author and humanitarian.

The Japanese garden was designed by Landscape Architecture professor Takeo Uesugi, who received a design award for being the principal landscape architect of the Pine Wind Japanese Garden at the Torrance Cultural Arts Center. After Uesugi finalizes his design plans in the next few weeks, Facilities Design & Construction will award the project to a contractor.

?We?re going to start doing some minor work, such as replacing the fire lane that we had to take out, in the next two to three weeks while we?re bidding the project,? said Mark Miller, Facilities Design & Construction project manager.

The garden, an estimated $600,000 project in which more than $400,000 has already been donated, is a budding example of how gifts greatly benefit the Cal Poly Pomona community.

For Aratani, donating to such a unique project seemed like a great way to support the university.

?I felt that I simply must contribute to such a project and am delighted to have found a way to show my appreciation of the university and its commitment to providing an exceptional educational experience,? he said.

But university officials are quick to note that additional funding is needed to complete the Japanese garden.

?There?s another $200,000 we?re trying to obtain for additional landscaping,? said Miller. ?It?s kind of an evolving animal. The project is all donor-funded, and it?s just a matter of how much funding we get. If we can get some additional donors, we will include other improvements.?

For more information on how to donate to the construction of the George and Sakaye Aratani Japanese Garden, call Ron Simons, associate vice president of University Development, at (909) 869-4996 or send an e-mail to rrsimons@cpp.edu.