Japan Opens Its Gates
After ratifying California as a state in 1850, the U.S. became a Pacific nation and quickly turned its attention to Asia.
The U.S. committed to ending Japan's nearly 250-year policy of almost total seclusion. In July 1853, a fleet of black gunships entered into what is now called Tokyo Bay. Its commander, U.S. Commodore Matthew C. Perry, delivered a letter from President Millard Fillmore to the Japanese government that demanded the opening of trade relations. He promised to return early the next year to receive a reply.
Explore the Japan Expedition
As this article from the December 1, 1852 edition of the Chicago Daily Tribune relates, Commodore Perry's first expedition to Japan that set sail in 1852 from Norfolk, Virginia planned to include a fleet of over 10 ships and over 880 guns, “mostly of heavy ordnance.” In fact, only four ships entered Japanese waters due to equipment issues and changes en route. It is safe to say that the Americans were prepared for a fight when they pulled into Uraga Bay (now Tokyo Bay) near Edo (Tokyo) on July 8.
The Paixhan shell guns mentioned refer to newly-developed explosive shells. The threat of force was enough to complete the mission: deliver a letter from President Fillmore and prepare to return next year. The President pledged peace and friendship should Japan open its ports to trade after nearly 250 of the reclusive policy of the Tokugawa shogunate, known as sakoku 鎖国 (lit. locked or closed country).
Beginning of a new era
Ultimately, Japan's shogunal government decided not to resist the American demands, despite strong opposition in favor of defending its shores.
Commodore Perry's mission was successful in opening trade with Japan. On March 31, 1854, the U.S. and Japan signed the Convention of Kanagawa, or Kanagawa Treaty, which began decades of mutual exchange and discovery between the two countries.
The Mercantile Settlement of Yokohama
The Treaty of Kanagawa, signed in 1854, allowed trade with the opening of Japanese ports.
A complete commercial treaty was negotiated by Townsend Harris, America's first consul to Japan, in 1858. This treaty, and those following, established foreign concessions, extraterritoriality for foreigners, and favorable import taxes for foreign goods. It also permitted the U.S. to open five ports, setting the stage for a foreign mercantile settlement on the small, man-made island of Yokohama.
A home to foreigners and locals
The modest settlement, only two miles-square and surrounded on all sides by water grew steadily
from its founding in 1859, likely due to its proximity to Edo (later known as Tokyo). Both locals and foreigners lived in Yokohama, but residences and businesses of the Japanese and the Westerners were divided by a main road, known as Honchō dōri (main street). There were four gates out of the area, and traffic was carefully monitored.
Curiosity about the westerners
The settlement in Yokohama, which had about 400 foreign residents by 1866, was the subject of intense interest
by the surrounding Japanese population. Print publishers did a brisk business of selling woodblock prints depicting the Americans' strange customs and appearance.
Revere the Emperor, expel the barbarians
Sonnō jōi, or “Revere the emperor, expel the barbarians” was a political slogan used during the 1850s and 1860s.
This phrase was used by local opposition to the Tokugawa government, which proved powerless to protect Japan against the foreigners. Following the restoration of imperial power in 1868, this slogan was replaced by fukoku kyōhei, or "rich country, strong military," which became the rallying call of the Meiji Period and the seed of Japan's actions through World War II.
Japanese delegation established
Following the signing of the 1858 Harris Treaty, a delegation of Japanese ambassadors was formed to visit Washington, D.C. and ratify the treaty.
The Japanese set sail for America in February 1860, where they were to stay for nearly 10 months and visit the cities of New York, Philadelphia, and Baltimore, in addition to the capital. The timing was awkward when the Japanese delegation, numbering 77, arrived in the U.S., as both nations were on the brink of civil war.
Inside the delegation visit
Wherever the delegation went, they were besieged with onlookers.
Even at formal gatherings, the Japanese commented on the Americans' overwhelming informality and friendliness. Visits to the White House elicited comments from the Japanese about the building's small size and lack of a moat.
The three ambassadors from the Japanese side, Muragaki Norimasa, Shinmi Masaoki, and Oguri Tadamasa, were shogunal officials. Scores of journals and sketches remain detailing the confusing and sometimes irritating American customs that the delegation encountered.
Only two interpreters were part of the group, including 18-year-old “Tommy” Tateishi Onojirō, on the left, a smiling interpreter-in-training who charmed the American media. As the most familiar Western language to the Japanese, Dutch was heavily used to communicate.
1860 tour of the U.S.
In the capital, the Japanese group was treated to banquets and tours
of the Smithsonian and the Navy Yard. Elsewhere, they took in the opera, and were even given a tour of Central Park by one of its designers, Frederick Law Olmsted, who would later co-design the World's Columbian Exposition of 1893 in Chicago.
Civil wars span the ocean
In the 1860s, conflicts erupted into civil wars in both the U.S. and Japan.
Within seven months after the Japanese delegation left to return home, Southern states seceded from the Union.
Return of the Emperor
Japan's own turmoil, known as the Boshin War 戊辰戦争 or the Meiji Restoration,
would result in the fall of the shogunate that had governed for over 250 years and the return of the emperor to practical rule in 1868.
Time of Transition
This New York Times article from November 1868 relates the crowning of the 14-year-old emperor and surrender of the shogunate's (the "tycoon's") forces. The paper reports that the capital of Edo (Yeddo) is still closed to foreigners, however that should soon change. Several American ships of war are said to be in Yokohama at the time. In the recounting of the battles fought by the Imperial forces, we can get the sense of the chaos that transpired.
Chicago goes up in flames
On the evening of October 8, 1871, fire erupted in Chicago, destroying thousands of buildings and leaving an estimated 300 people dead.
Legend has it the fire was started by a cow owned by Mrs. Catherine O'Leary that had knocked over a lantern, but the real cause is unknown. The Great Chicago Fire burned for three days, creating destruction over a widespread area that extended north to Fullerton Avenue and south to Harrison Street. The city was left with nearly $200 million in damages.
Embassy tours the aftermath
Representatives of the fledgling Japanese government visited the city after the Great Chicago Fire as part of the Iwakura Embassy
led by Iwakura Tomomi (1825-1883), the Junior Prime Minister of Japan. The group was comprised of 90 members, including five young women bound for college in the U.S. They docked in San Francisco, making their way by train to Chicago on February 26, 1872. The Japanese government knew of Chicago's devastation and prepared $5,000 in gold as a gift to the Women's and Children's Fund.
Meet the embassy at the station
"These representatives are progressive, and profess great friendship for foreigners."
This article from the Chicago Tribune in its February 27, 1872 issue relates how a delegation of representatives from Chicago went to Aurora to meet the train carrying the Japanese Embassy, where the rude behavior of some of the local onlookers was duly noted by the reporter. He also recounts every detail of the clothing worn by the Japanese that he observed were of wholesale manufacture (i.e. not tailored).
In Chicago, Mayor Medill addressed those assembled, assuaging previous prejudices and curiosities about Japan by acknowledging the nation's progress in "modern arts, ideas and culture and with admiration the spirit of toleration and liberty." Iwakura then gave a speech in reply. At the end of the article, the circuitous route taken by the embassy through the city by car is recounted.
Chicago rises from the ashes
Starting the decade as a modest city of under 300,000, Chicago reinvented itself into a city with a population of more than a million
by the time of the World's Fair in 1893. As railroads reached to the Pacific Ocean, Chicago's strategic place on transportation routes assured its population and industrial growth would continue unabated for years to come.
Japan: An industrial and military force
Having emerged from shogunal rule, Japan's main city of Tokyo prospered
in the new quest for industrialization and military might. Bunmei kaika 文明開化 ("Civilization and Enlightenment") was a call to action that accounted for the adoption of Western ideals of architecture, commerce, and education.
See the parliament come to life
"I have seen the birth of a new parliament, the first assembly of the kind known to the continent of Asia."
The article's author, Sir Edwin Arnold, praises the establishment of a parliament in Japan, with the emperor changing from a secluded mysterious figure into a national leader based on the Western model. This article is from the The New York Times published on January 26, 1891.
First parliamentary government in Asia
As Japan created a new government, it turned to European models of a parliamentary system
with the Emperor as a modern, progressive sovereign who presided over a Cabinet, the Imperial Diet, and the armed forces.
Chicago Chosen to Host World's Fair
On December 24, 1890, President Benjamin Harrison announced,
"In the name of the Government and of the people of the United States, I do hereby invite all the nations of the earth to take part in the commemoration of an event that is pre-eminent in human history, and of lasting interest to mankind."
The City of Chicago was selected to host one of the most important international events in the country's history—a world's fair to commemorate the 400th anniversary of Columbus' discovery of the New World in 1492.
Vision of Burnham and Olmsted
Two of country's leading designers were appointed to turn a nation's dream into reality.
Daniel Burnham was named Director of Works, responsible for the design of what would come to be known as the White City, with its glimmering Beaux-Arts buildings. Frederick Law Olmsted, the preeminent landscape designer responsible for New York's Central Park, was to create the outdoor elements.
The White City Is Born
Seemingly overnight, Chicago's Jackson Park, on the south shore of Lake Michigan, was transformed
from sand and marshland into an electrified city of gigantic neo-classic buildings for the World's Columbian Exposition. The Exposition opened in May and ran through October 30, 1893.
A spectacle for the world
Millions of visitors would come from around the world to see the best examples of industrial, scientific, and artistic talents of the day.
The main goals of the fair were to show a strong, unified America as the pinnacle of culture and showcase leadership in technology and commerce. The original Ferris wheel, the first moving walkway, life-sized replicas of the Nina, Pinta and Santa Maria ships, and showcases by 46 countries were among the sights on display for visitors.
Elevating Japan's stature
Japan's goal for the exposition was to establish itself as a modern, industrial nation that was open to trade and triumphant over unequal treaties.
To show the world how it had progressed in only 40 years, Japan prepared the most elaborate plans and largest budget—nearly $600,000—of any nation. In June 1890, leaders travelled to Chicago to negotiate the best locations for exhibits. After securing main exhibit halls to display the fruits of its rapid modernization, Japan sought a site for a building that could properly introduce the world to its rich artistic heritage, culture, and traditions.
The Wooded Island: An Idyllic Setting
With physical characteristics of Japan, the Wooded Island designed by Olmsted proved to be the ideal location.
Not only would it give visitors a peaceful respite, the location at the center of the grand iconic buildings representing Western civilization elevated Japan's status.
In February 1892, following lengthy negotiations between the Japanese and exposition officials, Daniel Burnham, the exhibition's chief of construction, enthusiastically wrote to landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted to explain that the Japanese "propose to do the most exquisitely beautiful things…and desire to leave the buildings as a gift to the City of Chicago."
Preparations fit for Japan
World's Fair Commissioner Seiichi Tejima [Tegima] spared no time in making clear the desire for the Japanese national pavilion to be situated on the Wooded Island.
As the article relates, this was because the lagoon added to the effect of the structure, which would have interiors modeled on three eras of Japanese history. In addition to the pavilion, the commission provided for funds for landscaping the surrounding area by gardeners from Japan.
The Phoenix takes flight
The Phoenix Pavilion was modeled after a noted building called the Hō-ō-dō, or Phoenix Hall, located in Uji, near Kyoto.
Built in 1052, the Phoenix Hall is recognized as one of the most important examples of classical Japanese architecture, and remains a symbol of Japan today. The Chicago version was given the name Hō-ō-den, or Phoenix Pavilion, signifying that it was modified from a sacred Buddhist temple building to one of secular purpose.
A marvel in construction
The Phoenix Pavilion was designed and prepared in Tokyo, shipped to San Francisco, then transported by rail to Chicago.
When the building arrived in December 1892, it was constructed by 24 Japanese workmen through one of the coldest winters on record. Onlookers were immediately captivated by their discipline and craftsmanship. Dressed in blue-colored caps with ear mufflers, heavy cotton jackets, tight trousers, and split-toed cloth boots, the Japanese workers used exotic hand tools and nimbly climbed from ground to roof without the use of ladders.
Japanese in Chicago
About five months before the opening, the Chicago Daily Tribune featured Chicago's growing Japanese community,
Many of whom came to town to prepare for the fair, including Commissioner Seichi Tejima, the architect of the Phoenix Pavilion, Masamichi Kuru, and workmen. The article goes on to mention prominent Japanese who had lived in Chicago in previous decades, including students at the University of Chicago who were enrolled in 1872 at the time of the Japanese embassy's visit to Chicago. One long-term resident, Jōkichi Takamine was a scientist who served as a World's Fair commissioner. Professionals, students, and teachers round out the small but highly-educated community mentioned.
"As it is, it was an unexpected coincidence that the Phoenix Palace should have been in the City of Phoenixes."
On March 31, 1893, the finished Phoenix Pavilion was opened amid ceremonies attended by hundreds consisting of speeches made by the Japanese commissioners as well as the directors, commissioners, and chiefs of the fair on the U.S. side. It was no coincidence that that day marked the 40th anniversary of the signing of the first trade treaty between the U.S. and Japan.
Inside the Phoenix Pavilion
Representing a phoenix, the pavilion consisted of a central hall with two identical smaller structures situated on each side that were connected by roofed walkways.
The exteriors and interiors of these three structures were carefully imagined to showcase different historical eras of Japanese art—the Heian (Fujiwara) period of 794–1185, the Muromachi (Ashikaga) period of 1376-1573 and the Edo (Tokugawa) period of 1615–1868, the latter taking up four rooms in the central hall. This meant that, in one afternoon, you could imagine yourself inside of a courtier's residence, a shogun's castle, and a medieval tearoom.
The Art of the Phoenix
Students of the Tokyo School of Fine Arts, led by Okakura Kakuzō, carefully crafted paintings and artistic objects of the interior with historical accuracy.
Okakura's 1893 book An Illustrated Description of the Hō-ō-den (Phoenix Hall) at the World's Columbian Exposition was the official guide to the building's features, including its interior artwork and furnishings. The book's cover features stylized depictions of phoenixes among paulownia trees, a recurring motif in the building. It is reproduced here in its entirety.
Exhibits popular with visitors
Japan had spacious exhibitions throughout the fair in addition to the Phoenix Pavilion.
For example, the Japanese teahouse that was located on the Midway Plaisance became a very popular attraction that let visitors sample different kinds of green tea. And for the first time, Japan took part in the fine arts display at a world's fair, alongside America and European nations. Works shown here included artforms in which Japanese artists excelled such as ink painting, cloisonné, and textiles.
Inspiration for a young architect
Architects from all over America were fascinated by the Phoenix Pavilion. Perhaps the most notable was Frank Lloyd Wright (1867-1959),
who was only twenty-six years old at the time. For Wright, who would go on to become one of the most important American architects of the twentieth century, this first encounter with Japanese architecture was a revelation.
Japanese-inspired design sensibilities
Wright openly admired the intimate relationship between the Japanese house and its garden,
and this sense of continuity with the landscape is clearly one of the most important characteristics that his work shares with traditional Japanese architecture. Soon after encountering the Phoenix Pavilion, he would begin experimenting with what he eventually called, "the elimination of the insignificant," an approach that would lead him to transform American residential design by focusing upon principles inspired by Japan rather than formulas found in the West.
Revolutionizing residential architecture
For Wright, who would go on to become one of the most important American architects of the twentieth century, encountering Japanese architecture would mark the start of a lifelong fascination with Japan and its aesthetics, which became a constant source of inspiration and confirmation of his work. His Prairie house style revolutionized residential architecture in the U.S.
The Robie House, completed in 1910, is one of the best examples of the Prairie house. It is located in the Hyde Park neighborhood, adjacent to Jackson Park.
Wright visits Japan
Wright's first trip outside the U.S. was to Japan in 1905, where he spent a few months touring the landscape and architecture from Nikkō to Takamatsu.
Shortly after his visit, he would begin discussions about designing the new Imperial Hotel. He traveled back to Japan in 1913 to examine its proposed location and sketch initial designs. His plans were approved April 1916 and he would return to Japan at the end of the year to prepare for the construction.
A hotel to bridge two countries
Wright had the opportunity to honor Japan when he was commissioned to design the new Imperial Hotel.
The completed building would become one of the most important ones in Tokyo by its completion in 1923. Inspired by the Phoenix Pavilion, Wright created a technical and aesthetic bridge between East and West, and hoped to inspire Japanese architects to create from their soul, rather than imitate the architectural styles of other countries. Being neither entirely Japanese nor completely Western, the hotel was a world in itself—intended as a unique place where people of different cultures could meet on equal terms.
The Great Kantō Earthquake
On the same day the Imperial Hotel opened, September 1, 1923, tragedy struck when a large earthquake hit the Tokyo metropolitan area.
The destruction caused by the Great Kantō Earthquake 関東大震災 was widespread throughout the capital and neighboring prefectures. More than 100,000 people lost their lives.
U.S. rallies to send aid
Frank Lloyd Wright's Imperial Hotel remained relatively undamaged and became the temporary U.S. Embassy.
For four days after the quake, the hotel provided meals for anyone who visited, up to 2,500 per day. The Midwest chapter of the Red Cross also gave generously to the relief efforts, just as the Japanese embassy that visited Chicago had done after the Great Fire of 1871.
Wright and Japanese art
Frank Lloyd Wright was a renowned collector and dealer of Japanese prints, often selling them as the perfect decorations for Wright-designed homes.
He noted in "The Japanese Print," a short book published in 1912, "These simple coloured engravings are indeed a language whose purpose is absolute beauty." Wright consistently lent prints to the Art Institute of Chicago, but his most important exhibition was undoubtedly a large 1908 installation where he displayed these prints in specially-designed frames. For the first time in Chicago, visitors witnessed a staggering array of prints from a variety of artists and time periods, most of which were owned by Wright himself.
Urban oasis for city dwellers
Following the close of the 1893 Exposition, Jackson Park transformed from the White City into a pastoral urban setting
for people to connect with nature and each other. As the neo-classical buildings and canals were dismantled and faded into history, a rugged interconnected system of serene lagoons with lushly planted shores, islands, and peninsulas emerged throughout this remote 600-acre (2.4km2) parkland.
Unfair treaties with Japan renegotiated
After Japan's success at the fair, unequal trade treaties were reexamined and renegotiated. The article states, "The significant feature of this new series of treaties is that they entitle Japan to the same treaty rights as the countries of Europe or the Western Hemisphere. All of the Japanese treaties now existing treat it as a half barbarous country and are the relics of the days prior to Japan's advance towards civilization…"
Phoenix Pavilion gifted to Chicago
The Phoenix Pavilion was entrusted to the City of Chicago, as agreed upon by representatives of the Japanese government and South Park Commissioners.
The gift was intended to provide a place for Americans to continue to experience Japanese culture and for nature to flourish. Through the South Park District (Chicago Park District), the city would maintain the building as a symbol of friendship between two countries.
Marking "A Century of Progress"
Chicago's 1933 World's Fair was held on the 100th anniversary of its establishment
as a town, and, as its name suggests, featured the advances that Chicago and society in general had made in that time. Opened for 150 days, it focused on scientific discoveries and breakthroughs in communications and transportation.
A royal affair at the Palmer House
The Chicago Daily Tribune of May 13, 1931 reported on the party thrown by the Japan-America Society, a dinner at the Grand Ball Room in the Palmer House Hilton for the newly-married Japanese Prince and Princess Takamatsu.
The Japanese community thrives
Japanese residents in Chicago in the 1930s numbered about 400.
It was a small community with flourishing businesses that included gift shops and restaurants, like the popular one run by the Natsuhori family. Organizations were also established to support their needs, namely the Japan-America Society of Chicago, which quickly became host to high-level dignitaries from Japan and the sponsor of cultural activities.
Japan showcases its rich culture
Inside the Japanese pavilion, the science behind the process of creating silk was showcased.
In addition, visitors to the pavilion could also experience chanoyu (tea ceremony), performed by young women in kimonos at the garden's teahouse.
Putting America to Work for Our Parks
Amid the Great Depression, the U.S. launched the Public Works Administration as part of the New Deal to put Americans back to work. This initiative funded improvements for Chicago's parks.
George T. Donohue (1884-1962), the first General Superintendent of the Chicago Park District, seized the opportunity to restore the Phoenix Pavilion and add an authentic Japanese garden that would match the building's beauty and importance. Donohue enlisted the Chicago Park District's architect, E. V. Buchsbaum, and landscape architect, Robert E. Moore, Jr., to draw up detailed plans loosely based on that of George K. Shimoda (1866-1931), who drafted plans for the site's first Japanese garden in 1894.
Restoring the Phoenix Pavilion and garden
In 1934, the Phoenix Pavilion was saved from the wrecking crew by George T. Donohue, superintendent of the South Parks. Largely funded by the PWA, American artisans set to work restoring the structure over the next 16 months. The plans included painstaking restoration of the ceiling panels with colorful designs of phoenixes, based on those that remained undamaged, to be undertaken by students at the School of the Art Institute. The Art Institute of Chicago, along with the Japan America Society of Chicago, Consulate General of Japan at Chicago, and others provided the specialized knowledge, talent, and other critical resources required to successfully complete the project.
Breathing new life into the Phoenix Pavilion
On July 27, 1935, the Chicago Park District opened the new Japanese garden, along with the restored Phoenix Pavilion.
This timing coincided with the arrival of Sadao Iguchi, the newly appointed Consul General of Japan at Chicago. Visitors could experience the Japanese teahouse, lanterns and torii gate that had been a part of Japan's exhibit at the 1933 World's Fair. During the final inspection before public opening, the Japanese Consul remarked, "Our people will always be grateful for what Chicago has done for this place. We revere this ground as a bit of our homeland transplanted in the heart of a great and friendly nation."
Stroll through the Garden
The new garden included major elements of a traditional Japanese hill-style stroll garden—a landscape type developed during the Edo period. In contrast to Western styles that feature lines of trees, symmetrical planting beds, and straight pathways, the stroll garden does not express dominion over nature.
Rather, it is designed to emulate natural settings and to achieve harmony through the careful placement of elements. This garden style was in keeping with Olmsted's larger plans for the Wooded Island and Jackson Park, which evolved from the English "landscape garden."
A picturesque landscape
The Japanese garden included a double pond with islands, a cascading waterfall, stepping stones, and a moon bridge.
Beautifully carved stone lanterns were placed along the paths to guide visitors throughout the garden. From nearly every vantage point, there were views of distant vistas, which included the beautifully restored Phoenix Pavilion, tranquil lagoons, and the Palace of Fine Arts—a structure from the 1893 Exposition that, after extensive renovation, reopened in 1933 as the Museum of Science and Industry.
The garden's caretakers
Shoji Osato and his wife, Frances Fitzpatrick, were entrusted by the Chicago Park District to care for the revived Phoenix Pavilion and garden.
The family would care for this site from 1935 through 1941. During this brief period, the Phoenix Pavilion and its garden became, arguably, the best examples of their kind outside of Japan. For Shoji, Frances and their three children, Sono, Teru, and Tim, this would become a place where they could escape the mounting challenges that stemmed from their contrasting cultural backgrounds and interracial family.
Attack on Pearl Harbor
On October 5, 1937, President Franklin D. Roosevelt gave his famous "Quarantine Speech" in Chicago,
asserting that America must try to isolate itself from the growing contagion of war in Europe and Asia. But when Pearl Harbor was attacked on December 7, 1941, non-involvement in the war was no longer an option. America declared war on Japan.
Relocation of Japanese Americans
After the war began, more than 120,000 Americans of Japanese descent were relocated from their homes and interned.
Former garden caretaker, Shoji Osato, was taken from his family the day after Pearl Harbor and interned by the government of the country he now called home. At the same time, the Phoenix Pavilion was boarded up and its garden, soon abandoned, fell into decline.
Seeking Out Suspects
As this article from the Chicago Daily Tribune of October 11, 1938 recounts, the State Department opened its records of all individuals receiving funds from foreign countries in an effort to suss out spies. Shoji Osato was registered with the Japanese Board of Tourism, which put him under investigation. No doubt, the publication of these names in the newspaper was meant to embarrass and shame those mentioned.
Osato family perseveres
Despite their father's internment, the Osato family thrived during the war. Sono left home in 1934 at age 14 to join the famous Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo.
She turned into a national sensation, performing around the world and across the country—except in California, where it was illegal for her to enter during the war. Teru, their second daughter, married a U.S. naval officer and started a family in Norfolk, Virginia. Tim, the family's only son, joined the 442nd Regimental Combat Team of the United States Army to fight on the front lines in Europe.
Phoenix Pavilion destroyed
Although the Phoenix Pavilion survived the war, Shoji and Frances' life in the garden would be no more.
In 1946, less than a year after the war ended in the Pacific, vandalism in the garden led to flames that reduced the Phoenix Pavilion, and their dreams, to ashes.
Two arrested for fire
The Chicago Daily Tribune on October 13, 1946, reported that the Phoenix Pavilion was severely damaged by a fire set by two teenage boys who were arrested at the scene. A part of the pavilion had already been burned and destroyed in a previous fire earlier that year.
Nagasaki and Hiroshima bombed
President Truman ordered the first atomic bomb to be dropped on the city of Nagasaki on August 6, 1945, and the second on Hiroshima
three days later, resulting in over 100,000 immediate deaths and leading to the unconditional surrender of Japan. Allied troops would occupy Japan for seven years.
Signing the peace treaty
In September 1951, a peace treaty came into force and officially ended the war nearly 100 years following the "opening" of Japan
by the United States, and 60 years following the arrival of the Phoenix Pavilion. With renewed hope, the two countries would start over on a path toward peace and prosperity.
During the surrender ceremony held on the deck of the Missouri, a special flag from Commodore Matthew Perry's ship that opened Japanese ports for trade was displayed. Accepting the surrender on behalf of the Allied Powers was General MacArthur, who was a cousin of Commodore Perry.
Cultural and economic boom
In the 1950s and 60s, the Japanese and U.S. economies expanded at unprecedented levels.
Advances in manufacturing and technology grew companies such as Toyota and Sony into leading corporations on the international market. By the late 60s, Japan's economy was the second strongest in the world. Its restoration after WWII was seen as complete with the success of the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. These games in the minds of many signaled Japan's emergence from military defeat.
Art as Expression
In the 60s, art and music became outlets for social and political expression for the youth of Japan and the U.S.
Avant-garde artists such as Yoko Ono pushed boundaries in the visual and performing arts, as well as in music, film and the written word to confront issues of gender, class, identity, and culture. One of Ono's most significant pieces, Cut Piece, was performed in Tokyo, New York and London and established her as a pioneer of conceptual and performance art.
From Art to Architecture
Several notable avant-garde art movements sprung up in Japan during this period, including a new generation of young architects
such as Tadao Andō and Kenzō Tange and their students. For Andō, his encounter with Frank Lloyd Wright's Imperial Hotel in Tokyo as a high school student would be the catalyst for him to pursue his chosen career.
Rise of the Counterculture
In both Japan and the U.S., the 1960s marked a time of political and social change.
A new generation sought to give voice to their political views. And at a time when FM replaced AM radio, ideas from voices of a new rock ‘n roll generation disseminated more quickly and loudly. In Tokyo, public concern about being drawn into unwanted wars spurred demonstrations against the U.S.-Japan mutual defense treaty.
Give Peace a Chance
As the Vietnam War raged throughout the late 60s and early 70s, so did the anti-war movement against it. Students, artists, and intellectuals alike united their voices to protest for peace.
Yoko Ono and husband John Lennon were among those who prominently spoke out against the war, attending public protests and holding ones of their own. Often combining advocacy with performance art, the two infamously held week-long "Bed-In for Peace" as nonviolent protests.
A lifelong mission for peace
Through art, music and social activism from the 1960s to today, Yoko Ono remains a steadfast voice for peace and human rights.
Yoko Ono, whose name means "ocean child" in Japanese, transcends geography and time as a true global citizen whose work and life celebrate commonalities that make all of us one. In Jackson Park, SKYLANDING is Ono's first permanent public artwork in the Americas, and a marker of her place as an artist of profound international influence through her lifelong mission for world peace.
From garden to sanctuary
In its neglected condition, the island that was once graced by the Phoenix Pavilion became overgrown
and developed into a refuge for varieties of migrating birds, including herons, falcons, cardinals, catbirds, robins, yellow warblers, and geese. By the early 1970s, conservationists embraced the area as an extraordinary wildlife ecosystem, and the island was designated as the Paul H. Douglas Nature Sanctuary in 1977.
Sister cities established
Strengthening ties between the U.S. and Japan, evidenced by the new sister-city relationship between Chicago and Osaka
forged in 1973, led to the rediscovery, restoration, and formal rededication of the garden in June 1981.
Behind the restoration
The restoration of the Japanese garden on the northern end of the Wooded Island was made possible by public and private support. Kaneji Domoto (1912-2002) was commissioned by the Chicago Park District to design the new garden, for which he was awarded the Frederick Law Olmsted Award in 1983. Uniquely qualified, Domoto was a Japanese American garden designer and architect who was interned during World War II and had worked closely with Frank Lloyd Wright.
Osaka Japanese Garden
In 1993, in celebration of the 20th anniversary of Chicago's sister-city relationship with Osaka, the Japanese garden was renamed
the Osaka Japanese Garden. The City of Osaka donated funds for the construction of a new entrance gate. The year 2002 saw a complete renovation of the ponds and stone settings. Today, visitors to the Wooded Island can experience one of the most compelling connections to nature in an urban setting in the U.S.
Ranma Panels discovered
Only four pieces of the Phoenix Pavilion were known to have survived the 1945-6 fires that demolished the building—its four ranma panels.
The ranma, four carved wooden architectural transoms, were believed to have been stored by the city under the bleachers of Soldier Field until they were discovered there in 1973.
In the Phoenix Pavilion, the ranma were located in the central hall. They were created by Takamura Kōun, a master of Buddhist sculpture.
Symbolism of the phoenix
Much of the artwork in the upper room featured phoenix imagery, however the ranma by Koūn were seen as the representative image of the phoenix from the Phoenix Pavilion. Some scholars believe that the overwhelming use of phoenix imagery was a way to promote the Meiji Emperor's rule and justify his restoration, since according to legend, this bird only appears when "people are in enjoyment of peace and prosperity." (Okakura, 10)
Finding a permanent home
Two panels were originally given to the University of Illinois at Chicago, and two to the Art Institute by the Chicago Park District.
Janice Katz, Associate Curator of Japanese Art at the Art Institute, first examined these panels in 2005, when they were on public display at UIC's Henry Hall. With both parties concerned about their condition, in 2008, it was decided that the Art Institute would be the best new permanent home for all four panels.
Restoration of the iconic artwork
All four panels were conserved and partially restored by the Litas Liparini Studio in Evanston.
The treatment involved structural stabilization, cleaning, pigment consolidation, toning, and re-carving of many elements such as birds' heads. The ranma panels, the focus of intense public and scholarly interest, are now on permanent display in gallery 108 at the Art Institute, together again for the first time since 1946.
A new era is dawning
In Jackson Park, the future of Japanese-American relations is rising again from old roots.
Starting with the 2013 planting of cherry blossom trees and the revitalization of the park, improvements respect, preserve, and renew the character of the landscape as designed by Olmsted after the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition, while addressing current and future issues and needs.
Space for enlightenment and discovery
"I want the sky to land here, to cool it, and make it well again."
Upon her first visit to the island in 2013, Yoko Ono felt a powerful connection to the stories of the Phoenix Pavilion's creation and demise. SKYLANDING is the first large-scale public commission by Yoko Ono in the U.S., and will live on the pavilion's original location.
SKYLANDING brings Ono's personal sense of hopefulness to the public realm and gives visitors a communal connection to earth and sky as a place of contemplation and congregation.
The Phoenix Rises Again
Plans for a new pavilion are underway to make it a space where people and ideas will intersect and converge.
Designed by architect Kulapat Yantrassast, who was mentored by world-renowned architect Tadao Ando, the new pavilion will serve as a center of activity and learning for visitors.
The Garden of the Phoenix
Be a Part of the Future
The Garden of the Phoenix celebrates a rich history of friendship, peace, turmoil and growth between the two countries. And once again, the park offers a place in Chicago's South Side to gather, play, and relax just as it has in the past.
You can become part of the future of the park and its story.