Carla Tengan

Carla Tengan is an associate curator at the Japanese American National Museum. She wrote this article while researching her dissertation, “Cultivating Communities: Japanese American Gardeners in Southern California, 1910-1980,” which she completed in 2006. She also served as a humanities scholar and on the project team for Landscaping America: Beyond the Japanese Garden, currently showing at the National Museum through October 21, 2007.

Updated July 2007

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Reinventing Culture - Japanese Style Gardens in America

In cultural creations ranging from outdoor gardens to works of art, music and literature, the question of authenticity often captures the attention of scholars, critics and laypeople alike. As a nation long known as the land of opportunity, the United States symbolizes a place where one can reinvent his or her life and start anew. Neither bound nor bolstered by thousands of years of national tradition, it is not surprising that Americans reinvent not only themselves, but numerous cultural creations brought over from other nations by immigrants and tourists alike.

In the case of Japanese-style gardens in the United States ...

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