The Takata family at the original Japanese Tea Garden in Esquimalt Gorge Park

Japanese tea garden was a sight to behold

The original tea garden in Esquimalt was established in 1907 by Hayato Takata and Yoshitaro Kishida

By Greg Evans, Municipal archivist

The original Japanese Tea Garden in Esquimalt Gorge Park was established in 1907 by Hayato Takata and Yoshitaro Kishida with the co-operation of the B.C. Electric Railway Company, the property owners.

Joe’s father, Isaburo Kishida, a professional gardener from Yokohama, Japan, designed the Japanese-style tea garden complete with tea house. He also designed Japanese Gardens for the Butchart family and for the Dunsmuir family at Hatley Park.

Kishida imported plantings and dwarfed trees from Japan for the one-acre site. The garden featured Japanese-style bridges, an ornamental stream, stone lanterns, porcelain figures and of course an authentic tea house, built and decorated with materials imported from Japan – it soon became famous for its brunch and afternoon tea.

By the mid- 1920s, fewer visitors were coming to the garden, due largely to the advent of the automobile and the ability of people to travel farther seeking entertainment. In 1924, Joe Kishida returned to Japan after selling his interest in the garden to Kensuki Takata who along with his brother continued to operate the business.

In 1920, Toyo Takata was born in the family residence adjacent to the tea garden. Toyo, who attended Lampson Street School and Esquimalt High, also worked at the garden. He was the cashier at the candy counter in a setting he fondly described as “near paradise.”

In 1942, during the Second World War, the garden closed. The Takata family was interned and re-located to the Slocan. With their departure, the garden fell victim to neglect and vandalism, the buildings torn down as potential “fire hazards.” After the war, the family settled in Toronto.

Toyo made many trips back to Esquimalt to share his story and that of the Takata Garden with individuals and organizations such as the Takata Japanese Garden Society. In 2009 an official re-opening ceremony took place in Gorge Park, with features reflecting the original garden.

Sadly, Toyo had passed away in 2002 but his belief in friendship bridging cultural differences remains in evidence as the garden is revitalized.

•••

Greg Evans is the Township of Esquimalt’s municipal archivist.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Human behaviour likely to deter birds from Esquimalt Lagoon, survey suggests

More Great Blue Herons spotted, fewer mallard ducks seen

Garth Homer Society in Saanich turns lemons into lemonade with online programs

Victoria disability organization sets up online programs and learning tools in wake of COVID-19

Sidney’s Mary Winspear Centre to host a trio of acts

Aaron Pritchett, Alex Cuba and Valdy will each play four shows

PHOTOS: A morning in a physically-distanced Victoria

Residents commute in a pandemic-changed city

Faulty janitorial equipment likely caused Saanich school fire

Saturday morning fire damaged roof of Strawberry Vale Elementary

Islanders want BC Ferries to follow order that lets residents board before tourists

For ferry-dependent communities, ferries are often the sole practical lifeline to work, school or medical appointments.

Beverly Hills 90210 star’s family selling Vancouver Island Beach Resort

You can own Jason Priestley’s Terrace Beach Resort in Ucluelet for less than $5 million

Genetic detectives begin work to trace spread of COVID-19 in Canada

The kinds of genetic technology being used for this project did not exist when SARS hit Canada in 2003

Sports fishers protest Fraser River Chinook closures

Public Fishery Alliance wants hatchery fish open for harvest

B.C. Ferries increasing passenger capacity after COVID-19 restrictions

Transport Canada 50-per-cent limit being phased out, no current plans to provide masks

Shellfish industry get funds to clean up at Island sites and beyond

Businesses can apply to cover half of costs to clean up so-called ‘ghost gear’

Amber Alert for two Quebec girls cancelled after bodies found

Romy Carpentier, 6, Norah Carpentier, 11, and their father, Martin Carpentier, missing since Wednesday

B.C. man prepares to be first to receive double-hand transplant in Canada

After the surgery, transplant patients face a long recovery

Most Read