Garden Reopens

After repairing extensive hurricane damage, the board has re-opened the Yakumo Nihon Teien.  We would like to thank all of our friends and supporters who were able to join us on Saturday, May 19th for the celebration.

A few pictures of the event can be found here.

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We now look forward to beginning the second phase of construction which will include a structure on the viewing platform that can be used for tea ceremonies, receptions and other events.  If anyone would like more information about the re-opening ceremony or the upcoming construction, Dr. Strong can be reached via e-mail at   

Post-Hurricane Garden Update, August 31, 2006

Dear Friends,

           Several weeks after the storm I received the first message about the condition of the garden from our landscape architect Mr. Robin Tanner, who visited the garden.  He told me that we had a miraculous escape from the storm with no structural damage to the garden and only the loss of several trees and plants, as well as some loss of ground cover.  Of course, there had been flooding of the grounds.  When I first returned to view the garden, I was very pleased to see that our calligraphy with the name of the Japanese Garden in Japanese Kanji was completely intact and displayed in our entrance.

           The things that have taken place torestore the garden after the storm include the following.  We have replaced the camellia that was damaged.  We have replaced the two large Japanese maples that died after the storm with the aid of a crane. Robin Tanner and his crew and volunteers have taken turns watering the garden during the drought even though the sprinkler system was working most of the time.  Volunteers have replanted Asian jasmine in the front two areas on both sides of the main entrance; giant lariope was planted on the side wall.  Volunteers have weeded the garden several times.

            A small group of board members have met with an architect and contractor to begin making plans for constructing a tea house on the platform within the garden.

            We had a board meeting on April 18th, which was sparsely attended, our second board meeting is August 23rd, 2006 .

            Plans are being made to restore and install large amounts of granite covers in the dry creek bed in the center of the garden, as well as to replenish the ground cover.

            We shall keep you informed as progress continues.

                                                        Jack P. Strong, M.D.

                                                        President, Japanese Garden Society

"Yakumo Nihon Teien" hit hard by hurricanes

JGSNO would like to thank everyone who has inquired about the safety and welfare of the society’s members and friends, and the condition of the garden.  Hurricanes Katrina and Rita decimated untold thousands of homes and businesses along the Gulf Coast.  New Orleans’ City Park, the location of the Yakumo Nihon Teien, is in a part of the city that was especially hard-hit.

Every attempt to describe the effects the hurricanes had on the city has proven grossly inadequate.  JGSNO has not yet been able to completely assess the long term impact of the storms.  There is a possibility that the storm waters were toxic and/or laden with salt.  And a complete analysis of the condition of the structures in the garden has not yet been completed.

But, we wanted to do our best to convey an approximation of the impact.  Below are "before and after" photographs of parts of the garden.  As you view these, please remember that the JGSNO remains committed to completing the Yakumo Nihon Teien.  This setback will be overcome, with the help of our friends and partners.

    Before                                      After

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Post-Katrina Letter from Matsue

International Exchange Section,
Matsue City Hall ,
86 Suetsugu-cho,


2nd March 2006 .

Dear Dr. Strong,

         We were deeply disturbed by the damage and tragic loss of life which resulted from Hurricane Katrina’s destructive passage across the states of Louisiana and Mississippi in August of last year, and we would like once again to express our deepest sympathy to all those affected. In particular we extend our sincere sympathy and support to the people of New Orleans , whose city and lives were so cruelly devastated by the events of last August. The horrific damage and harrowing loss of life caused by last year’s hurricane must have certainly left the people of New Orleans with a distinct sense of the power of nature’s darker forces.

        The residents of Matsue, New Orleans’ sister city in Japan, hope that the city and people of New Orleans will be able to recover from their torturous ordeal as soon as possible, and are truly looking forward to the resurrection of New Orleans as a vibrant, world-class city whose streets are infused with resonant tinctures of jazz. In recent days there has been a great deal of newspaper coverage on events at this year’s Mardi Gras – an event which so succinctly defines the spirit of New Orleans – and it is extremely encouraging to see that, although gradually, tourists are in the process of returning to the city. However, I expect that the city is still facing many problems, with electricity and water utilities yet to be restored in certain areas, and many water- damaged properties yet to be dealt with, and I would thus like to offer you our continued support from here in Japan .

         After the Hurricane, having failed to contact you by email, we inquired as to your welfare through Mr. Fukushima, whom I believe you know, and who is a friend of our colleague Mr. Tsuchie. We were all extremely relieved to hear that you had made it through the traumatic events of August unscathed. More recently we have been trying to gather information through the Japanese Foreign Office on the current status of New Orleans and the Japanese Garden Society’s Yakumo Teien however, as of yet we have been unable to gain any detailed reports. Thus, we would be extremely grateful if you could help us by providing us with as much information as possible on the current condition of New Orleans, the Yakumo Teien and all the members of the Japanese Garden Society. Your help in this matter would be much appreciated.

        We would like to thank you in advance for your help and this matter and hope you and all your members are keeping well and have been suitably buoyed by the Mardi Gras spirit. Here in Matsue we continue to hope and pray for the rapid recovery of your city and the Yakumo Teien, which so strengthens links between our two cities.

 Yours sincerely,

Shoji Kodama, Director of Matsue City’s International Exchange Division.

New Board Elected

Members present at the annual meeting in July accepted the slate of officers and board members, as presented by the Nominating Committee.  Dr. Strong would like to thank everyone who has volunteered their time and effort over the years and looks forward to working with the new board members as we work to complete the garden.  

Annual Members Meeting

The Annual Members Meeting will take place at the Garden Study Center in the Botanical Gardens of City Park on July 20th, 2005 at 5:00 p.m.  The following slate of officers and board members will be presented for approval by the membership.  Additional nominations will be accepted from members in good standing during the meeting.


President:                                           Dr. Jack P. Strong

Vice- president:                                 Dr. Tetsuo Nakamoto

Treasurer:                                           Mr. Johnny Martinez

Secretary:                                           Ms. Colleen Thian

Advisor/Past President:                  Mrs. Nancy Turner


Mr. Vaughn Banting                         Mrs. Gloria Battiste

Dr. David Borne                                Rev. Frank Candalisa

Ms. Kathleen Devitt                         Mr. Elroy Eckhardt

Mr. George Hirabayashi                  Mr. James Hollingshad

Mrs. Noriko Lastrapes                     Dr. T. Gray Malcom

Mr. Mike Mitchell                                Mr. Narutoshi Ochiai

Ms. Jeanne Okamoto                       Mrs. Carol Smith


Zen-Noh UNICO America Contribution

Consul General of Japan Masaru Sakato hosted a formal presentation ceremony at his official residence to commemorate a donation from Zen-Noh UNICO America Corp.  Mr. Yasufumi Akimoto publicly announced the the generous contribution, which was gratefully received by the JGSNO President, Dr. Jack P. Strong.  The celebration was joined by most of the JGSNO board, along with other supporters such as Ms. Teruko von Bargen of the Japan Club.

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Japan Fest 2005

This year’s celebration of All Things Japanese will take place at the New Orleans Museum of Art on Sunday, May 15th.  Details are available on the Japanese Consulate’s website.

Mrs. Teruko von Bargen

Mrs. Teruko von Bargen, President of the Japan Club of New Orleans, attended the March 16, 2005 board meeting with a very welcome announcement.  She had solicited about 50 of her friends to financially support the JGSNO.  Mrs. Von Bargen presented Dr. Jack Strong with a check for more than $6,000 to help with construction costs.  We cannot thank her and her friends enough for this very generous contribution.

New Consul General of Japan

Consul General Masaru Sakato recently assumed his post as the new Consul General of Japan in New Orleans.  The Japanese Garden Society joins the rest of New Orleans in welcoming Mr. and Mrs. Sakato to the Crescent City. 

Mayor of Matsue, Japan

Matsuura Masataka, Mayor of Matsue, Japan, recently wrote to Dr. Strong to thank the Japanese  Garden Society for its "hard work and dedication over the past few years". He added " We hope that many people will visit this garden and gain an insight into Japanese culture. It is our wish that this garden will act as a building bridge between Matsue City and New Orleans, as well as between Japan and the United States of America".  Dr. Strong and the entire JGSNO are so thankful for the tremendous support Matsue has shown for this project.