Sumitomo Garden and Villa

During our trip to Japan we were lucky enough to be escorted around Kyoto by an old friend of my uncle Stan, Mr Sumitomo. He took us to visit his family home which was a fabulous traditional Japanese house. What was a particular privilege was the chance to see a private Japanese garden. I realized that Mr. Sumitomo came from a very wealthy family. His business card said that he was the advisor to Sumitomo Industries Ltd which I suspect that this was the Japanese way of discretely saying retired owner. The brochure of Sumitomo Industries said it turned over 9 billion dollars!

The garden was very large, had a large pond, moss floored woodland and clipped shrubs. It blended with the woodland beyond.

Years later during a period of research I discovered that this garden was very special in that it had been designed and laid out in 1920 by Ogawa Jihei (1860-1933) 小川治兵衛 reputedly one of the finest garden craftsman Japan has ever produced. His distinctive style of garden design bridged an era of great change in Japan. He was a master garden creator. One of the concepts of Japanese gardens is to blend in or “borrow” the surrounding landscape. The Sumitomo garden did this brilliantly.