Document Type

Student Paper

Publication Date

Spring 5-17-2022


Asian History | Asian Studies | East Asian Languages and Societies | Japanese Studies | Social History | South and Southeast Asian Languages and Societies | United States History

Description, Abstract, or Artist's Statement

Japanese gardens in the United States have a history that dates back to the World’s Fairs of the late 19th century, when Japan used the World’s Stage to project an image of itself as a powerful nation founded on both modern industrial techniques and traditional culture to compete with dominating Euro-American powers. The history of the Japanese garden in Chicago’s Jackson Park, gifted to Chicago by the Japanese government for the 1893 Columbian Exposition, tells the story of Midwesterners’ love and appreciation for the gardens while also demonstrating the implicit legacies of Executive Order 9066. The garden remained a crucial part of Midwestern cultural exchange in the early 20th century due to the public’s existing interest in the natural landscape of the Midwestern frontier. Using official narratives crafted by the Fair’s committee and photos of the Fair, the thoughts of the local Chicagoans expressed in the Chicago Daily Tribune, and a fictional account of the Fair by author Marietta Holley, this paper argues that the Midwestern public had an active interest in applying values of mysticism to the garden in the years leading up to Japan’s involvement in World War II, and shows the endurance of Japanese gardens thereafter.