Koichi Kawana (1930-1990) was a famed landscape designer known for his Japanese gardens, and the designer of Denver Botanic Gardens’ own Shofu-en Japanese Garden. Rather than using construction drawings, Kawana rendered his designs with ink and brush, describing the form of the landscape while also capturing its emotive qualities. Kawana was involved in every aspect of the planning and design of his projects.
About the Artist
Born in Hokkaido, Japan, Koichi Kawana studied calligraphy, painting, ikebana (floral design), poetry and traditional Japanese design before immigrating to the United States in the 1950s. Kawana earned his master’s degree in political science and environmental science at the University of California, Los Angeles before earning his Ph.D. in landscape architecture at Pacific Western University in California. Kawana was a pioneer in designing Japanese gardens that showcase local plant species, intended to demystify Japan for an American audience.
In addition to designing Shofu-en, Kawana also designed the Seiwa-en Japanese Garden in St. Louis, Missouri, the Japanese Friendship Garden in Balboa Park in San Diego and many others.