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Hakone Estate and Gardens is an 18 acre garden that incorporates stroll, hill and pond, tea garden, and karesansui  枯山水 on a beautiful hillside in Saratoga hills.  It is also home to a bamboo garden and replica of a Kyoto Tea Merchant’s House, where exhibits and cultural programs can be held.

Mrs. Oliver Stine, creator of the garden, was so taken by Eastern concepts and the beauty of Japanese gardens during the 1915 Pan-Pacific Exposition in San Francisco, she decided to create a summer retreat in the Japanese style. She traveled to Japan and chose Hakone for the name of her garden.

The Stines purchased seventeen acres of land in Saratoga in 1915, and commissioned Naoharu Aihara, who was from a long line of imperial gardeners from Koyobashi Tokyo, to design and begin building Hakone in 1917.   Architect Tsunematsu Shintani designed and constructed the private residence, Moon Viewing Upper House, Lower House and the koi pond.

The City of Saratoga purchased Hakone Gardens in 1966 to create a public garden.  The first Hakone Foundation was created and it raised the funds to build a cultural center building in 1990.  It was jointly designed by Kiyoshi Yasui in Japan, and Saratoga’s Sister City architects; built in Japan and assembled at Hakone by traditional Japanese carpenters.  The Cultural Exchange Center (CEC) building is a replica of a Kyoto Tea Merchant’s House, where exhibits and cultural programs can be held.

Turning 100 years old in 2015, it is one of the oldest Japanese estate, retreat and gardens in the Western Hemisphere.

Links for Hakone Estate and Gardens:


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