Center for East Asian Garden Studies

The Huntington's Center for East Asian Garden Studies promotes innovative scholarship on the traditions of garden-making in China, Japan, and Korea. Furthering the educational mission of the Huntington's Chinese and Japanese gardens, the Center makes these traditions accessible to wide audiences through lectures, workshops, symposia, exhibitions, and performances.

Public Programs

Music in the Chinese Garden
Wednesdays, 1–3 p.m.
Enjoy traditional Chinese music every Wednesday afternoon in the Garden of Flowing Fragrance. 

Japanese Teahouse Tours
Second Monday of every month, 11:30 a.m.–3:30 p.m.
Learn about the history of the Japanese Garden's ceremonial teahouse and the traditions behind its use. Informal tours are offered at 20-minute intervals.

Film Sneak Preview
Jan. 11, 2020, 2 p.m.
Join us for a preview of filmmaker Julia Haslett's most recent documentary, which follows the unexpectedly revealing tale of the charismatic rhododendron. Native to the mountains of southwest China, the rhododendron was pursued at the height of the British Empire by plant hunters. Today Chinese and Scottish conservationists devote their lives to its survival. Patiently observed footage of conservationists at work, a lively cast of environmental humanists, and centuries-old landscape paintings create a visually arresting film about human efforts to protect nature for and from ourselves. Free; no reservations required. Rothenberg Hall.

Tang Qingnian: Video Screening
Apr. 5, 2020, 2:30 p.m.
With live musical accompaniment by the pipa (lute) virtuoso Wu Man and the shakuhachi (bamboo flute) artist Kojiro Umezaki, Tang Qingnian screens the video artwork that has been the focus of his residency. A conversation with the artists follows. $10. Rothenberg Hall.

Lectures and Symposiums

I.M. Pei and Wang Shu: Modern and Post-Modern Transformation of the Chinese Garden
Jan. 23, 2020, 7:30 p.m.
From antiquity to the global present, the Chinese garden has undergone significant transformations. Hui-shu Lee, professor of Chinese art history at the University of California, Los Angeles, will reflect in this talk on two recipients of the Pritzker Architecture Prize—I. M. Pei (1917–2019) and Wang Shu (b. 1963)—and their instrumental reinterpretations of the Chinese garden for the modern and post-modern worlds. Free; no reservations required. Rothenberg Hall.

The Making of a Medium: Borrowing Views from Painting and Fiction in Early Modern Chinese Garden Design
Feb. 20, 2020, 7:30 p.m.
S.E. Kile, assistant professor of Chinese literature at the University of Michigan, will examine the first two Chinese works to consider the making of a garden as an art: Ji Cheng’s Yuanye (Fashioning Gardens, 1631–34) and Li Yu’s Xianqing ouji (Leisure Notes, 1671). By excavating the garden’s relationship to other art forms—Ji Cheng was trained as a painter and Li Yu was a writer—Kile will present an account of the garden as a medium of artistic expression in early modern China. Free; no reservations required. Rothenberg Hall.

"Unscholarly" Gardens: Rethinking the Gardens of China
Feb. 29, 2020
The image of the “Chinese garden” that most commonly comes to mind is that of the white-walled, gray-tiled gardens built by scholar-officials and merchants in the city of Suzhou during the Ming dynasty (1368–1644). Despite its iconic status in the contemporary imagination, the Suzhou-style scholar’s garden is only one type among many. Exploring “unscholarly” spaces such as monastic gardens, merchant gardens, medicinal gardens, and market gardens, this symposium will complicate common assumptions about what makes a garden in China. Reservations required. Rothenberg Hall.

Village Life in Tokugawa Era Japan
Mar. 26, 2020, 7:30 p.m.
The commercialized cities of the Tokugawa period (1600–1868) were sustained by villages that produced most of the goods consumed by urbanites. Although higher government was run by samurai, villages were largely self-governed, with the village headman serving as intermediary. Luke Roberts, professor of history at the University of California, Santa Barbara, discusses the daily lives of villagers; what (and for whom) they produced; and how village headmen connected them to the political and economic networks of Japan. Free; no reservations required. Rothenberg Hall.

The Tale of Genji: Imaged and Reimagined
Apr. 16, 2020, 7:30 p.m.
Considered one of the great works of world literature, The Tale of Genji was written by the Japanese court lady, Murasaki Shikibu, about 1000 years ago and has had a significant impact on Japanese literature, performing arts, and visual arts since then. In this lecture, Bruce A. Coats, professor of art history and the humanities at Scripps College, surveys these extraordinary literary and visual art traditions, with an emphasis on how The Tale of Genji was imaged and reimagined for a millennium. Free; no reservations required. Rothenberg Hall.

Educational and School Programs

Poetry in the Chinese Garden
Taking students to a museum or garden is a wonderful way to encourage their appreciation for, and understanding of, our natural and cultural heritage. The Huntington offers field trips designed to deeply engage students in their personal learning experiences and bring their studies to life. In the "Poetry in the Chinese Garden" program, students use poetry as an entry point to the culture of Chinese gardens, immersing themselves in the garden experience. They compare Chinese and Western landscape styles, learn about the role of literature in the garden, and create and share their own two-line poems inspired by what they see.

Chinese Garden Discovery Cart 
Discovery Carts are engaging and educational mobile exhibits that offer new learning experiences to garden visitors. The Chinese cart encourages visitors to learn through culturally-themed activities involving Chinese opera masks, traditional Chinese instruments, poetry, Chinese apothecary, architecture, and Chinese tea preparation all of which highlight the scholars' garden.