The last jewel that will be built into the Balboa Park crown, the Inamori Pavilion in the Japanese Friendship Garden is uncompromisingly true to its Japanese heritage and is one of San Diego’s unsung treasures, although frequently photographed both privately and professionally, and a source of much pride in the community.
Taking full advantage of natural cedar or “hinoki” building materials, a broad “kirizuma” copper roof, and traditionally detailed interiors such as its delicately hand-painted “fusuma” doors, the Pavilion’s design also incorporates stunning waterfall and garden views, an acknowledged aspect of both historic and modern Japanese architecture. Both the architect and landscape architect were award-winning professionals and native to Japan, though resident and longtime licensed practitioners in San Diego and Los Angeles. Their heritage is reflected in the authentic influence of ancient Japanese tea houses, but also in the significant influence on the Pavilion of Katsura, the 17th century Imperial Villa that often borrowed from by 20th century architects such as Bruno Taut, Le Corbusier, Frank Lloyd Wright, Green and Green, as well as Walter Gropius.
Immensely popular for weddings and corporate events, the Pavilion’s traditional wrap-around veranda or “engawa” overlooking the quiet koi pond is also a favored location for personal introspection and meditation, as well as artistic and musical programs that are often showcased within its sliding-door walls or “shoji”. During the Garden’s annual Cherry Blossom Festival that draws thousands of people each year, the Pavilion is the ultimate destination for most visitors, cherished for its spectacular views and as an oasis of calm reflection in today’s busy world.