2013 / Huntington Library awarded with Japan’s Foreign Minister Commendation for promoting U.S.-Japan friendship


Foreign Minister's Commendation

Los Angeles Consul General Jun Niimi, right, poses with Huntington’s botanical garden director James Folsom and Huntington’s board Toshie Morsha at the conferment ceremony of the Foreign Minister’s Commendation. (Courtesy of Consulate General of Japan in Los Angeles)

On Feb. 1, 2013, the Consulate General of Japan in Los Angeles conferred on the Huntington Library, Art Collection and Botanical Gardens, the Foreign Minister’s Commendation in recognition of their contribution to the promotion of mutual understanding between Japan and the U.S. through years of active involvement with Japan’s national symbol sakura (cherry blossoms).

The Foreign Minister’s Commendation is awarded to individuals and groups of outstanding achievements in international fields, to acknowledge their contribution to the promotion of friendship between Japan and other countries. The Commendation also aims to promote the understanding and support of the Japanese public for their activities. 

The Japanese Garden of the Huntington is among the oldest and most elaborate of its kind in North America, and a major draw for visitors.

Completed in 1912, the nine-acre site, with its picture-postcard views of koi-filled ponds, distinctive moon bridge, and historic Japanese House, has attracted more than 20 million visitors since the institution opened to the public.

In April 2012, after a year-long closure and a $6.8 million renovation, it reopened to public marking its centennial as one of the most beloved and iconic landscapes at the Huntington.

The cherry tree became a symbol of lasting friendship between Japan and the U.S. after over 3,000 cherry trees were gifted from the City of Tokyo to Washington, D.C. in 1912.

In the 1970s the Huntington introduced the “Pink Cloud” cherry, a variety that does well in the climate of Southern California, and has since promoted the planting of this variety in the region. Furthermore, commemorating the original planting in D.C., the Huntington donated 1,300 “Pink Cloud” trees to public organizations and institutions during the 2012 Japan-U.S. Cherry Blossom Centennial.

In addition to spreading the symbol of friendship in the form of cherry blossom trees, the Huntington has contributed to the deepening of the mutual understanding between Japan and the U.S. by showcasing the Japanese Garden as a platform for cultural enrichment. 

The Huntington has been offering numerous opportunities for the residents of Southern California to learn about various types of Japanese arts and culture. Ikebana classes, bonsai exhibitions, and tea ceremonies are among its many other cultural offerings.