Japanese Garden To Reopen April 29
By Susan Stabley
With a gift in hand from the government of Japan, Miami’s resurrected Ichimura Miami-Japan Garden on Watson Island is to open with a ceremony and public tours April 29.
The 10 a.m. scheduled opening will be on Green Day, a Japanese national holiday celebrating nature and the environment.
Ko Kodaira, consul general of Japan in Miami, presented a grant of 20 million yen, or about $184,000, Thursday to Miami city commissioners for the gardens.
"I would like to reiterate my deep appreciation for the City of Miami’s continued efforts toward making the reconstruction of the Miami Ichimura Japanese garden a reality," he told commissioners. "This beautiful garden will be a visible sign of the long-lasting and excellent friendship between the City of Miami and Japan."
When the grant was first offered in May 2002, the 20 million yen was worth $154,000, according to Keith Carswell, director of the city’s Department of Economic Development. It has gained almost $30,000 in value since.
"Why don’t we hold it for another two weeks?" joked City Commission Chairman Arthur Teele Jr.
The city committed $115,000 for a perimeter wall that would block sound from busy MacArthur Causeway as well as wind. Parrot Jungle Island, at the original site of the garden, has contributed $350,000. Another $233,000 came from Miami-Dade County’s Safe Neighborhood Parks bond, and Miami-Dade Cultural Affairs chipped in $2,081. The Department of Environmental Protection gave $200,000 through the Florida Recreational Development Assistance Program and Florida Land & Water Conservation gave $70,000.
A wedding already is being planned at the garden, said Meredith J. Nation, senior project representative with the city’s Department of Economic Development. "It’s a perfect place to go as a respite from the downtown," she said.
The garden opened in 1961 as San Ai-En Japanese Garden, a gift to the city by Kiyoshi Ichimura, founder of Ricoh Corp. It was closed in 1981 but was restored and reopened seven years later as Ichimura Miami-Japan Garden. In 1992, Hurricane Andrew destroyed the garden.
The current rebirth of the garden was landscape architect Lester Collins Pancoast’s final project before he died Nov. 21. He was a member of the board of governors of Fairchild Tropical Garden in Miami and an overseer of The Kampong for the National Tropical Botanical Garden in Coconut Grove.
Some elements of Mr. Pancoast’s design – including an entry building, some landscaping, a teahouse, an 8-foot stone lantern and a dry water garden – are still to be added.
A fund has been established in his name with the Dade Community Foundation. Ms. Nation said $8,000 has been raised in individual donations.