Hakone Pals

From April 2020, for a year, I posted on Facebook a painting each day as a brief diversion from the lockdowns and other bad news this year. Neglecting my weblog, I’ll post in the coming days some of my better posts. Some of these paintings are still available.

“Hakone Pals”, 24×12, oil on canvas, plein air 

Over 100 years old, Hakone Gardens in Saratoga, CA, is one of the oldest Japanese estate, retreat and gardens in the Western Hemisphere. In 1915, two San Francisco arts patrons, Oliver and Isabel Stine, intending to build a summer retreat, purchased the 18-acre site on which Hakone now stands. Inspired by her trips to Japan, Isabel Stine modeled the gardens upon (and named them after) Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park. 

Having visited Hakone in Japan, I especially appreciate the namesake, and the countryside there is beautiful views of Lake Ashi and Mt Fuji.

From the “Studio Keimusho”, another “Vertical Water” painting completed for the Los Gatos Art Festival of Hakone Garden. Look at the painting and can you guess why it was named “Hakone Pals”??

You can read more about this painting here–
http://www.donaldneff.com/blog/hot-hot-hot/

Kako-no-ike

"Kako-no-ike Pond, Korakuen", 24x12, oil on canvas.
“Kako-no-ike Pond, Korakuen”, 24×12, oil on canvas.

One of the Three Great Gardens of Japan is called Korakuen (K?raku-en). Located in Okayama, Japan, it was built in 1700 by Ikeda Tsunamasa. Korakuen means “garden of pleasure after”, which is a reference to a saying attributed to Confucius explaining that a wise ruler must attend to his subjects’ needs first, and only then should he consider his own interests. Once a playground for the elite, in 1884 Okayama Prefecture took Korakuen over and opened it to the public.

In 1957 Okayama and my home town, San Jose, became sister cities. San Jose built it’s own garden in 1965, called the Japanese Friendship Garden, patterned after Korakuen, and in 1966 it’s koi ponds were stocked with koi sent from Okayama. Although koi live over 50 years with some reports of over 200 years, unfortunately in 2009 a virus wiped out much of the koi in the gardens.

This is a painting of Kako-no-ike, one of the ponds in the garden, and the eighth in my Japan studio series. I visited Korakuen January 2015 while visiting my son who has been teaching English to school kids in the area the last three years. I didn’t have time to do any paintings there, but this is my second studio painting of the garden. You can see all my Japan paintings, both en plein air (on location), and studio paintings on Pinterest, here.


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