Dr. Koichi Kawana designed more than one dozen major Japanese gardens in the United States, including botanical gardens at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, San Diego’s Balboa Park and gardens in Denver, Chicago, Memphis, Minneapolis, and the largest Japanese garden in the United States – the 14 acre garden in St. Louis. He pioneered the design of traditional Japanese gardens which utilized plants native to the area of the garden.
A native of Hokkaido, Japan, Dr. Kawana was listed in Who’s Who in America, the Dictionary of International Biography, and Who’s Who in Art, among others. Awards include Progressive Architecture’s Design Award for design of this garden; the Victor M. Carter Diamond Award, the highest honor of the Japan America Society of Southern California; the Companionate of Merit in Order of St. Lazarus of Jerusalem in Edinburgh; and the Gold Medal from Academia Italia della Arti de del Lavoro. National Geographic Magazine featured Dr. Kawana’s St. Louis garden in its August, 1990, issue.
Dr. Kawana died in September, 1990, at age 60. Professional associates recall him as a “renaissance man,” a garden designer, architect and artist whose paintings are now collectors’ items – writer, poet, collector of fine art and teacher. He taught ikebana informally—Japanese architecture and landscape design at UCLA, formally. One associate wrote, “He taught me about the art of gardening and human grace.”