California Culture


Hakone Japanese Gardens Saratoga, CA

Farnsworth Park
568 E. Mt. Curve Ave.
Hakone is the oldest Japanese and Asian estate gardens in the Western Hemisphere, established in 1915. It is one of the prime land marks by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. It is an authentic replica of Japanese Samurai or Shogun's estate garden, designed by one of descendent of the imperial gardening family members.

Located in the Saratoga hills, Hakone occupies more than 18 acres of chaparral, woodland and manicured Japanese gardens. It was designed and built by San Francisco cultural leaders Isabel and Oliver Stine; after falling into disrepair Hakone was rescued in the 1960's by a group of prominent Chinese families. Today Hakone is owned by the City of Saratoga and administered by the Hakone Foundation.

Daicha Kai (Grand Tea Gathering)

The Daichakai is one of the most important and enjoyable tea events in the greater Bay Area: important in that it brings together tea practitioners of different tea traditions and enthusiasm of its participants. The hope is that all who practice tea will desire to attend in order to share tea with their fellow practitioners at one of the few sites where this type of events is possible outside of Japan. The upcoming one is scheduled on October 16, 2011.

Opera in the Gardens
Hakone Gardens
408 741-4994
21000 Big Basin Way
Saratoga CA 95070

Autumn Opera in the Gardens has become a tradition at Hakone. The Friday before Labor Day, local luminaries gather to serenade the crowds as the sun sets. Last year's Opera n the Gardens featured some of the best-known names from Opera San Jose:

Christopher Bengochea, Tenor
Cathleen Candia, Mezzo-Soprano
Khori Dastoor, Soprano
Adam Meza, Bass-Baritone

The performance is followed by a reception under the stars, with the artists in attendance. We will hold another great one on Sept. 9, 2011.

Garden Features

The Hill and Pond Garden was created for strolling. The pond is set on the slope from which a waterfall can drop into the lake below. This is the classical setting for a Chisen Kaiyu Shiki, or hill and pond style garden. This style reached great popularity by the 17th century. As you stroll the twisting paths surrounding the pond, you will discover the power of aesthetic form underlying the enchanting views. The ike, or pond, is meant to represent the sea, lake, pond or river in nature.

The Zen Garden is a dry garden whose primary purpose is for meditation viewing. It is never entered. One may contemplate the raked pattern of gravel and large stones that represent water and islands. Accents at Hakone include a shrine lantern, a black pine tree, and bamboo.

The Tea Garden is the entryway for the tea ceremony rooms, and provides a soothing, tranquil journey over moss and stepping stones. Guests participate in a transforming realm of beauty and elegance as they purify their hands at the tsukubai, or water basin. Enclosed for privacy, this cool serene enclosure of delicate plant life prepares visitors to enter the tea ceremony rooms.

The Bamboo Garden was built through the combined efforts people and organizations from both Saratoga and its sister cities Muko and Kyoto in Japan. The bamboo garden that was created is a masterpiece of lasting beauty that emerged from a grass and brush-choked hillside.

In 2011 we celebrate the 88th anniversary of the West Coast premiere of Madame Butterfly at Hakone

Open Thursday - Sunday Noon to 4 p.m.
4th Annual Autumn Opera in the Gardens –
88th anniversary of Madame Butterfly at Hakone, on Friday, Sept. 9, 2011.

Join us on September 9 as we mark a landmark event at Hakone: the 88th anniversary of the West Coast
premiere of Madame Butterfly. First performed here in 1923, the production met with rave reviews as
people traveled from as far away as Los Angeles, Seattle, and even New York to see the West Coast premiere. This year we celebrate the auspicious 88th anniversary with a production encompassing some of the most memorable scenes from the opera.


Christopher Bengochea, Tenor - as Pinkerton

Keiko Kagawa, Soprano - as Cio Cio san

Cathleen Candia, Mezzo Soprano - as Suzuki

John Minagro, Baritone - as Sharpless

Cast of Community Opera

Mayumi Ashiya - Yamaha Electrone/Orchestra

This evening of opera in the gardens will begin with hors d'oeuvres and wine, and will culminate with an opportunity to mingle with the performers under the moonlight.

Seating and wine tasting 6:30 - 7 PM

Buffet reception follows the performance, with the artists in attendance

$150 per person, $125 for members

All proceeds go toward the preservation of Hakone.

Register by phone 408.741.4977

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