The new teahouse remained in protective wrapping Tuesday at the Huntington's… (Tom Politeo )
Members of the Huntington this week got an early peek at a new hillside tea garden in the making. It's part of a $6.8 million spruce-up of the 100-year-old Japanese Garden that reopens to the public April 11.
The centerpiece of the tea garden is a ceremonial teahouse that comes with a dizzying travel tale and a bit of serendipity. The teahouse named Seifu-an (Arbor of Pure Breeze) was built in the 1960s in Kyoto, Japan, and constructed at the Pasadena Buddhist Temple not far from the San Marino gardens.
"When I think of it, Seifu-an may be the first teahouse ever to have been crafted in Japan, assembled in the United States, and then disassembled, returned to Japan for proper restoration at the very workshop where it was built, and shipped once again to the United States for reinstallation at a new site," Jim Folsom, director of botanical gardens, writes on Huntington Blogs.
And the serendipity? The Japanese architect hired to help oversee the reconstruction of the teahouse discovered it had been made by his father's company.
As of Tuesday afternoon, the teahouse remained wrapped up, with only its copper roof visible. A bamboo fence encircles it, and a waterfall trickles down one side. Freshly planted pink azaleas already were blooming amid some Canary Island pines and native oaks that frame the structure. Visitors will view it from a distance, shrouded in trees and plants once the greenery grows in.
In the older section of the Japanese Garden, wooden bridges and water structures have been replaced, and the Japanese House is being restored. Walkways leading up to the teahouse will connect with new paths to the Chinese Garden too.
Read more about the garden's new look at the Huntington's website.