The Huntington Library’s New Addition: The 17th Century Japanese Heritage Shōya House

The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens are on the brink of unveiling a remarkable new addition – the 17th Century Japanese Heritage Shōya House. This unique attraction, which is set to open to the public on October 21, is a meticulous replica of a typical farming village from yesteryears, complete with walls, a gatehouse, and terraced rice fields. This 320-year-old family abode originates from Marugame, Japan, and was lovingly donated by Los Angeles residents Yohko and Akira Yokoi, painstakingly rebuilt by Japanese artisans and local teams ever since 2019. This latest addition augments the existing nine-acre Japanese Garden, a creation of railroad magnate Henry E. Huntington in 1912, presenting visitors with yet another vivid slice of the property’s extensive offerings. At 3,000 square feet, the Shōya House offers both an intimate glimpse into familial life and public civic affairs of the 17th century. The ambitious project, an arduous creation spanning seven years, cost a cool $10.2 million, and its construction continues, paving the way for even more immersive cultural experiences.

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Overview of the Huntington Library Expansion with the Shōya House

The world-renowned Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens is broadening its horizons with an exciting new feature – the addition of the Japanese Heritage Shōya House. This enchanting addition introduces a deeper exploration into Japanese culture and heritage, providing visitors an authentic and immersive experience in a 17th-century Japanese setting.

New attraction in the Japanese Garden

The Shōya House marks a significant expansion of the beloved Japanese Garden, an integral part of the Huntington Library’s original design. This new attraction aims to take you back in time, allowing you to walk through an ancient Japanese setting, observing and appreciating the rich traditions of the Eastern world.

Opening date for the public

Starting from October 21, you’re cordially invited to set foot into a historical era, traversing the life, architecture, and ambiance of a 17th-century Japanese farming village, all nestled within the familiar surroundings of the existing Japanese Garden.

Construction and Restoration Process

Designed with meticulous detail and care, the Shōya House was recreated by the masterwork of both Japanese artisans and local construction crews, ensuring the preservation of the original aesthetics while incorporating it seamlessly into the current structures of the Japanese Garden.

Historical Context of the Shōya House

The Shōya House offers not just architectural beauty but also an evocative slice of Japanese history.

Shōya, The Village Leader

The house derives its name from the term “Shōya”, used to refer to a village leader in the traditional Japanese context. This facet of the house imbues it with an aura of leadership, offering you a peek into the governance and social structure of historical Japan.

Reflection of 17th-century rural village setting

From the rustling bamboo walls, the majestic gatehouse to the terraced rice fields, every part of the Shōya House faithfully mirrors the authenticity and subtlety of a 17th-century rural village setting. As you walk through the house, you embark on an enlightening journey steeped in time.

Importance of Shōya House in Japan’s heritage

The Shōya House is a symbol of Japan’s rich heritage, a century-old marker of the country’s traditional dwellings, community leadership, and serene rural ambiance. It embodies the simplicity, tranquillity, and cohesive community spirit that are intrinsic parts of Japanese culture.

Donation and Reconstruction of the Shōya House

This impressive architectural feat is rooted in a generous act of giving by Los Angeles residents Yohko and Akira Yokoi.

Donation by Los Angeles residents, Yohko and Akira Yokoi

The husband-and-wife duo felt an undeniable connection with the structure, and their generous donation of the 320-year-old historic family home has made it possible for the Shōya House to become a part of the Huntington Library.

Historical age of the original house

Dating all the way back to 1700 and originally situated in Marugame, Japan, the house carries the wisdom and charm of centuries, rendered even more precious by the longevity of its existence.

The two-year reconstruction process

Since 2019, the house has been undergoing a careful and respectful restoration process. Artisans from Japan collaborated with local builders to ensure that every corner of the house was restored with fidelity to its original design and intention.

Significance of the Expansion in Henry E. Huntington’s Legacy

The Shakespearean quote “what’s past is prologue” holds true for the Shōya House, which adds a new chapter to the legacy of the Huntington Library’s creator – Henry E. Huntington.

The original nine-acre Japanese Garden

The Japanese Garden, first designed by railroad magnate Henry E. Huntington in 1912, has been a haven for lovers of tranquility and Asian aesthetics for over a century.

Role of Henry E. Huntington in the site’s creation

Henry E. Huntington’s vision set the foundation for what has now blossomed into a major confluence of art, literature, and botanical beauty. His dream to create a space that appreciates and respects cultural diversity has only been further actualized with the addition of the Shōya House.

Expansion as a continuation of Huntington’s vision

The arrival of the Shōya House is thus a fitting tribute to Huntington’s original vision. It upholds his idea of a multi-cultural, educational, and peaceful retreat, further embellishing the already diverse array of attractions within the property.

Newly Opened 2-Acre Section

Can’t get enough of the Huntington Library? This project has good news for you – it unveils a brand new 2-acre section to visitors!

Location and connection to existing spaces

Ideally nestled near the existing Japanese Garden, and in the vicinity of the expanded Chinese Garden, the location of the Shōya House makes for a harmonious blend of Asian cultures.

The added features at the property

Beyond the Shōya House itself, the expansion boasts an assortment of engaging features that seamlessly tie into the property’s existing spaces. They add dimension to the visual and experiential allure of the site, inviting deeper exploration and contemplation.

Integration with the neighboring Chinese Garden

Standing in close proximity to an enlarged Chinese Garden from 2020, the Shōya House not only amplifies its own cultural resonance but also conveys a broader panorama of Asian cultures and aesthetics.

Interior and Use of the Shōya House in the 17th Century

Step inside the Shōya House, and you’ll find yourself transcending both space and time!

Former Yokoi Family Residence

Previously owned by the Yokoi family in LA, the House has not only witnessed the family’s life over centuries but also acted as an opinion shaper in Japanese civic affairs.

Dual-function as a civic space and private residence

True to its past, the Shōya House was once a multifunctional center, serving as both a public space for community affairs and a private resident. This dual function is a testament to the integrated community life of historical rural Japan.

Influence on modern Japanese architecture

The house’s seismic design; the minimal, unadorned style; and the philosophy of co-existence with nature all exemplify how it has profoundly shaped Japanese architecture, encouraging modern constructions to adopt and adapt these principles.

Seven-Year Construction of the Compound

This era-evoking project has taken seven years – a testament to the time and dedication that went into crafting it to perfection.

Duration and stages of the compound’s construction

From the meticulous planning phase to the careful execution, every stage of the project was completed keeping in mind the historical and cultural significance of the Shōya House.

Notable features of the developed compound

Apart from the Shōya House, the compound also includes an authentic gatehouse, terraced rice fields, public restrooms, and an office, making the project an all-encompassing experience.

Ongoing construction efforts

Even though the primary structure of the Shōya House is complete, efforts continue to add more features, maintain the structures and to enrich the authenticity and depth of the overall experience.

The Gatehouse and its Role in the Compound

Every historic Japanese village had a gatehouse, and the Shōya House is no exception.

The compound’s authentic gatehouse

The gatehouse marks the entrance to the Shōya House, perfectly embodying traditional Japanese architecture while augmenting the historical authenticity of the whole compound.

Functionality: housing an office and public restrooms

While keeping true to its historic significance, the gatehouse provides modern amenities. It houses an office and public restrooms, blending utility with aesthetic appeal.

Integration within the entire compound

The gatehouse is integrated within the entire compound, harmonizing with the other structures and contributing to the overall appeal, both in terms of design and functionality.

Sustainable Agriculture at the Shōya Compound

Eco-conscious planning is smart planning, and the Shōya House project has taken sustainability into its stride.

Role and importance of sustainable agriculture

A testament to this is the terraced rice fields. They are not only a nod to traditional Japanese farming practices but also a symbol of how sustainable, organic agriculture can be integrated into modern landscapes.

The implementation of terraced rice fields

The terraced rice fields at the Shōya compound serve both as aesthetic elements adorning the landscape as well as functional spaces for farming. By implementing this ancient agricultural practice, the project aims to honor and propagate the sustainability principles that Japanese farmers have adhered to for centuries.

Potential educational value for visitors

The incorporation of terraced rice fields and sustainable practices provide education, inspiration, and aesthetics in equal measure. Visitors can observe and learn about ancient farming practices, understanding their underlying principles and long-term benefits.

Funding and Project Costs

Constructing a historic, culture-rich project like the Shōya House requires substantial investment, and this has been made possible thanks to philanthropic funding.

Cost of the Shōya House project

With a project cost rounding up to $10.2 million, the Shōya House is a significant investment in cultural conservation, education, and eco-friendly practices.

Significance of philanthropic funding

Thanks to generous donors, who understand the value of preserving history and culture, the project received the necessary monetary support. Their contributions reflect the collective recognition and respect for world cultures and heritage.

Impact of cost on the project’s overall completion

Though the project carries a hefty price label, the cost has not throttled its progress or diluted its quality. Instead, the philanthropic funding has successfully fostered a historically authentic, environmentally-friendly, and aesthetically delightful Shōya compound, thereby continuing to enrich visitor’s experiences at the Huntington Library.

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Written by Kelly Kennedy

I'm Kelly Kennedy, the author behind Japanese Garden Craft. As a lover of Japanese gardening, I've dedicated myself to cultivating knowledge and sharing it with others. With a focus on providing in-depth reviews and insights, I aim to be a comprehensive source for all things related to Japanese gardening tools and techniques. Trustworthy reviews of various tools, from essentials to specialized items, are created by experts in the field. Whether you're a beginner or a seasoned landscaper, my instructional content covers everything from the basics to advanced techniques. Let's embark on a journey to create your own serene Japanese garden together.

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