Isamu Taniguchi

landscape architect, farmer
Born: circa 1902
Birthplace: Osaka, Japan

Raised in Japan, Taniguchi immigrated to Stockton, Calif., as a teenager in 1915. He was a farmer in California, raising bonsai plants and crops. He returned to Japan only once, to marry his childhood sweetheart. They had two sons, Alan and Isumu. During World War II, Taniguchi and his family, like 120,000 other Japanese Americans, were forced to live in relocation camps. Taniguchi was interned at Crystal City, south of San Antonio. After the war, he remained in Texas, raising cotton, crops, and flowers in the Rio Grande Valley. He retired to Austin in 1967 to be near his son Alan.

Out of gratitude for his sons' education at the University of Texas at Austin, Taniguchi offered to create a Japanese garden for the City of Austin. The city parks department let Taniguchi have three acres of land in Zilker Botanical Garden. With no more than one assistant at a time, Taniguchi worked as a volunteer for 18 months to create the gardens. All plants and material were donated from local nurseries. The gardens feature a series of ponds that spell “Austin” when viewed from the air, a 12-foot waterfall, a teahouse, a Half Moon bridge, a lotus pond with a miniature island, and extensive Japanese landscaping. Today the Isamu Taniguchi Oriental Garden is a popular attraction.

Died: 1992

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