A New Oasis for Cal Poly Pomona

A New Oasis for Cal Poly Pomona
From L to R: Jim Collins, Agnes and President Bob Suzuki, and Sakaye and George Aratani stand in front of the Aratani Japanese Garden.

A view of the George and Sakaye Aratani Japanese Garden pond from the lower bridge.

The Rev. Nobuharu Uzonoe performs the purification rite at the unveiling of the Aratani Japanese Garden.

More than 150 people joined Cal Poly Pomona President and Mrs. Bob H. Suzuki, Jim Collins, George and Sayake Aratani at the dedication of the Aratani Japanese Garden on June 28.

“I could not be happier with the way the garden turned out,” comments President Suzuki. “We hope that the campus and surrounding communities will enjoy this for many years to come.”

The 1.3-acre facility, adjacent to the CLA Building and the W.K. Kellogg Commemorative Rose Garden, flourishes with traditional Asian flora and creates a small slice of peaceful paradise in the midst of campus. The garden features a large reflection pond, a cascading waterfall, bridges, walkways, a small amphitheater, new lighting and more.

Takeo Uesugi, professor emeritus of landscape architecture at Cal Poly Pomona, designed the Aratani Garden. He had earlier received a design award for being the principal landscape architect of the Pine Wind Japanese Garden at the Torrance Cultural Arts Center.

The original idea of a Japanese garden at Cal Poly Pomona was conceived by Michi Weglyn. A prominent Japanese-American author and humanitarian, Weglyn was a strong supporter of the university and a personal friend of the Suzukis. She bequeathed from her estate a total of $100,000 in honor of the Suzukis for the garden, and is recognized with the Weglyn Stone Garden and Jacaranda trees.

The garden is named after the Aratanis, whose generous lead gift of $300,000 helped transform an existing natural spring-fed pond on campus into an authentic Japanese garden. Other large gifts came from the graduating classes of ?94, ?96, ?02 and ?03 ($25,000) and Stuart Sperber ($10,000). Sperber serves as the vice-chair of Valley Crest Companies, the group that constructed the garden.

“The subject of creating a Japanese garden in the core of the campus came up during a campus tour with President Suzuki and I was instantly drawn to the idea,” says Aratani, chairman emeritus of Mikasa and Kenwood Americas. “It will be the perfect thing to improve the campus focal point, providing beauty and serenity to the academic setting to be enjoyed by generations of students and campus visitors.”

The entire project was funded by outside resources. To date, nearly $550,000 has been raised. In addition, the university is now working toward the establishment of a $1 million endowment to provide proper maintenance and support of the Aratani Garden. Through this endowment, the principal investment will be left intact and only the earnings will be used to fund a master gardener to supervise the year-round maintenance and coordinate an educational program to teach the principles of designing and building Japanese gardens.

For more information about the Aratani Japanese Garden, contact Ron Simons, associate vice president for university development, at (909) 869-4996 or rrsimons@cpp.edu. To listen to President Suzuki?s dedication comments, link to video.cpp.edu/RFreemont/SuzukiGardenSpeech-035.asx or video.cpp.edu/RFreemont/SuzukiGardenSpeech-245.asx.