Sometimes things are not what you think them to be! We found this to be true in Fresno, California. Typically thought of as a farming community in a not so well off county. We expected a small town with little to attract tourists. Boy, were we wrong!
Fresno really impressed us. There was much to do and enjoy. The town has grown and will continue to grow. There was only one disappointment: The Tower District which is supposed to be the hub of Fresno night life complete with the iconic Tower Theater. We went there during the late evening, hoping to catch some of the sights before dark. Then I wanted to shoot all the neon that the brochure pictured. The Tower Theater was not well kept and dirty, and after the fourth police car went through, we decided to leave.
I just needed to take time to feed my soul last week–feed it with photography. We have been so busy, and I missed getting out and shooting. Not that I wasn’t using my camera; I just wasn’t using it in an activity where I could relax. That’s why I spent the day in Benicia on my way to visit friends in San Jose.
While in San Jose, my photography goal was to visit Hakone Gardens. I used to go there to relax and meditate when I lived in San Jose. Then it was free, quiet and beautiful. It’s still quiet and beautiful, but it’s no longer free. But the fee is nominal and shouldn’t stop anyone from visiting.
Here’s a brief history of the place from Wikipedia:
In 1916, two San Francisco arts patrons, Oliver and Isabel Stine, intending to build a summer retreat, purchased the 18 acres (73,000 m2) site on which Hakone now stands. Inspired by her trips to Japan, Isabel Stine modeled the gardens upon (and named them after) Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park. She hired Japanese landscape artists and architects to design the gardens and the Upper “Moon Viewing” House. In 1932, ownership passed to financier Major C. L. Tilden who added the main gate to the gardens. When he died, Hakone was inherited by his sister, Mrs. Walter Gregory. After her death in 1959, Hakone was left untended, and the property was put up for sale.
In 1961, Joseph and Clara Gresham, their son Eldon and wife Deon, and four Chinese American couples: George and Marie Hall, John and Helen Kan, Dan and June Lee, Col. John C. Young and Mary Lee Young purchased the estate. This partnership restored Hakone to its original splendor, keeping its traditional Japanese authenticity while using it as a private retreat. In 1966, the partners offered a beautifully maintained Hakone for sale to the City of Saratoga. Today Hakone is administered by The Hakone Foundation, a non-profit organization, which was established in 1984 to restore and enhance the gardens independently of public funding. The gardens are open to the public and the various community facilities are often used for cultural events.
I’ll write more about the gardens in my next post. Yes, this is another two-part post.