Ozawa Pavilion

The Ozawa pavilion was opened by Dr. Ozawa in May of 1995 and was designed to create a venue for the promotion of friendship and inter-cultural understanding between Japan and Canada. The pavilion was designed to be a site for Japanese cultural events (such as our annual Japanese Cultural Celebration), formal ceremonies (especially Chanoyu, or the Way of Tea), meetings, and other events of cultural interchange. It is a tremendous cultural asset for the Devonian Botanic Garden and the University of Alberta.

In 1992, on his annual visit to the Kurimoto Japanese Garden the Hon. Tatsuo Ozawa, a prominent Japanese Parliamentarian, noted the need for a protected place in which visitors could rest and enjoy the surrounding beauty. As President of the Canada-Japan Inter-Parliamentary Committee and a long time proponent of mutually beneficial partnerships between Japan and Canada, Dr. Ozawa then researched possible designs in Japan and secured over $560,000 in funds from Japanese businesses to build the pavilion.

The Pavilion was designed by Mr. Junichi Hashimoto, an architect based in Edmonton. Using a combination of traditional Japanese features and modern innovation, Mr. Hashimoto designed a multi-purpose building perhaps best described as a guesthouse with a tearoom. It is a Gyo building, which means it combines Sin (formality) with So (humbleness/solitude).

The building is made primarily of yellow cedar imported from British Columbia. Yellow cedar is a beautiful and costly wood, which is damaged when touched (due to the oil on our skin). To achieve the look of mud walls, acrylic stucco was used on the exterior of the building. Mr. Hashimoto’s goals were to make the exterior of the building look light and tender and to expose the post and beam structure. The hipped roof and the lack of nails and screws are both standard Japanese form; the transitional space under the deep eaves connects the garden with the interior of the building. An Edmonton based Japanese contractor built the body of the building, but the roof was built by a German contractor.

The black tiles in the lobby area (gengkahn) are common in Japanese architecture, as are the grass mats (tatami), the rice paper screens (shogi), and the sliding doors (fusama). In the Ozawa Pavilion, the tatami mats, the fusama, and the light fixtures are all imported from Japan.

The size and proportions of the Ozawa Pavilion were determined by number of tatami mats in the main room. The twenty-mat room can accommodate twenty adults for living, eating, and sleeping. By dismantling the three tables and storing them under tatami mats the room changes from a dining area into a sleeping area. This large room can be used for large tea ceremonies and as a waiting room for smaller ones.

Tatamimats, which are made of hand-woven grass, fade in the sunlight, but can be rotated such that they fade evenly. They should be replaced every five years, and should always be kept clean. Split-toe socks (tabi) are the most appropriate footwear for tatami; shoes should never be worn on them. The mats can be slept on, but often rolled out futons are used as well. In Japan, the space underneath the tatami mats is used for storage, and the mats are reversible so that one side can be reserved for special guests. Futons, silk cushions, and extratatami mats are kept in the closet of the main room in the Ozawa Pavilion. The surface of the ceiling looks like wood, but is actually a layer of paper.

Rice paper screens (shogi) are used to create specific views of the scenery. They are usually opened only as wide as the scroll on the opposite side of the room. The shogi slide upward from ground level in order that one may watch the falling snow. When the screens are closed, the left one should be closer to the window than the right one.

The alcove (tokanoma) opposite the window usually houses a scroll (kakemono) and a simple flower arrangement. It gives the guests without a window view something beautiful to look at. The kakemono is selected according to the season and with consideration of the message written on it.

The tearoom (chashitsu) in the Ozawa Pavilion is four and a half tatami mats in area, a common and median size for tearooms. Best appreciated from a kneeling position, the room incorporates three types of wood – bamboo, cherry, and yellow cedar – to create a varied, yet serene, atmosphere. A feeling of spaciousness is achieved by the use of three different heights. In addition, the low ceiling above the host’s place expresses her humbleness, while the sloping ceiling provides the guests with psychological release. The small door (nijiriguchi) is where the guests of a tea gathering (chakai) traditionally enter the room. Its small size encourages the guests to be humbled as they enter, and also makes it difficult to bring swords inside.

In the winter season (October – May) the sunken hearth (ro) in the center of the room is used for tea ceremonies (chanoyus); in the summer (May – October) the brazier (furo) is used. Tearooms express the host or designer’s unique idea of tea; it is one of the basic utensils necessary for the preparation of a bowl of tea.

Next to the tearoom in the Pavilion is the tea preparation room (mizuya). In it are kept the tea bowls (chawan) and various tea implements, including the ladle (hishaku) and the tea container (natsume). Bamboo grating is used for the floor-sink, and bamboo pegs are in the wall for drying cloths. The tea bowls, like the scrolls, are chosen for each occasion by the host. All of the bowls are handmade and have a front side and a backside; many of the bowls tell a story.

The Ozawa Pavilion is winterized and fully equipped. It has a full kitchen, shower room, and two washrooms. Extra dishes, both Western and Japanese, trays, cutlery, cushion chairs, table-tops, linens, and scrolls can all be found in the pantry adjacent to the kitchen. In the basement, there is a washer, a dryer, and a reverse osmosis water-filtration system. The bride doll in the kitchen is a gift from Dr. Kurimoto Sr.

Although the Pavilion is a delicate and valuable building, it is meant to be used. Groups can rent the space for functions such as meetings, weddings and overnight stays.