2020 / Japanese Government awards medal to Mr. Dennis Otsuji, landscape architect in San Diego

On Nov. 3 (Japan Standard Time), the Government of Japan announces the recipients of its Fall 2020 Decorations. From the jurisdiction of the Consulate General of Japan in Los Angeles, Mr. Dennis Otsuji in San Diego will be awarded.

Mr. Dennis Yukio Otsuji awarded the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Rays 

Mr. Dennis Otsuji has been involved in Landscape Architecture and Urban Planning for over 50 years and has also served as President of the American Society of Landscape Architect (ASLA), advancing landscape architecture through advocacy, communication, education and fellowship.

As President of the Japanese Friendship Garden Society of San Diego, a symbol of U.S. – Japan friendship, he has promoted Japanese culture and tradition with his enthusiasm and achievements.

He also has contributed to disseminate the history of the internment of Japanese Americans by the design and management plan for the Manzanar National Historic Site as well as facilitating the completion of the National Japanese American Memorial in Washington DC.

Mr. Otsuji was appointed as a board member of the Japanese Friendship Garden Society of San Diego in 1999 and has served as President since 2009.

In the expansion completed in 2015, he proposed innovative designs to the Japanese Friendship Garden of San Diego. Also, he took a leadership role in the major capital campaign raising 6.1 million dollar including international donations.

This expansion also recently led the Garden in June 2020 to become the first Japanese garden in the United States to be certified as a museum by the American Alliance of Museum.

Mr. Otsuji continues his passion to further disseminate Japanese culture and tradition through the Garden.

Since 1979, Mr. Otsuji has been an active member of the American Society of Landscape Architect (ASLA) and was elected as President in 1994.

In 1998 for his unparalleled contribution to the profession, Mr. Otsuji received the Presidents Medal from ASLA. In 1992 while serving as Vice President of Policy at ASLA, he was asked to serve as the Chairman of the ASLA Committee to work with the Manzanar Committee and Manzanar Advisory Commission in conjunction with the National Park Service.

The ASLA committees were designed to guide and assist in the planning and preparation of the General Management Plan for the Manazanar Historic Site to accurately interpret the history of the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II.

Mr. Otsuji accomplished that task by leading the eight-member committee who were all interned in one of the ten internment camps during World War II. Mr. Otsuji was interned Amache, Colorado. His involvement with Manzanar was completed in 2012, however he continues to visit annually and stay in contact with its progress at Manzanar.

From 1998 to 2000, while he was a board member for the National Japanese American Memorial Foundation, Mr. Otsuji facilitated and coordinated the design and construction of the National Japanese American Memorial located in Washington DC.

The memorial records “the experience of American citizens of Japanese ancestry and their parents who patriotically supported this country despite their unjust treatment during World War II.”


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