A Living Tradition in a Foreign Land: Integrating Japanese Gardens in the Postwar American Landscape

Mar 8, 2024, 1:30 pm3:30 pm
East Pyne 010 and livestream Princeton Channel 7; reception to follow


Event Description

A Living Tradition in a Foreign Land: Integrating Japanese Gardens in the Postwar American Landscape

Sadafumi Uchiyama, Curator Emeritus Portland Japanese Garden


Zhiyan Yang, Humanities Council / PIIRS / Princeton-Mellon Fellow



While prevailing academic discourse often interprets Japanese gardens primarily through an aesthetic lens, emphasizing their unchanging tradition and perceived cultural authenticity, this presentation challenges such views. It aims to reveal the varied design and functional possibilities of Japanese gardens in the U.S., tracing their significance against the backdrop of evolving U.S.-Japan relations after WW2 and the internment of Japanese Americans. By highlighting the role of postwar cultural diplomacy, this talk will also examine contemporary practices and their impact on local communities, minority groups, and broader social and cultural dynamics.



Sadafumi (Sada) Uchiyama is Curator Emeritus of Portland Japanese Garden, where he was a garden curator from 2008 to 2021 and chief curator from 2021 to 2023. Uchiyama helped to create and integrate the Cultural Crossing Expansion Project and was Director of the Japan Institute’s International Japanese Garden Training Center.

A fourth-generation Japanese gardener from southern Japan, Uchiyama is devoted to fostering relations between Japanese gardens in Japan and those outside of Japan. Having received training in and taught landscape design in the U.S., he has been involved in the development of the North American Japanese Garden Association (NAJGA) and serves as a Charter Member of its board and programming board.



This event is sponsored by the East Asian Studies Program; Program in Asian American Studies; Art + Archaeology; School of Architecture; Tang Center for East Asian Art; and the Princeton-Mellon Initiative.