Japanese ambassador turns sod on new garden

Project will form cultural bridge between Ireland and Japan

Patrick Lafcadio Hearn with Koizumi Setsu. The garden project will commemorate the writer, who spent his boyhood summers in Tramore.

Patrick Lafcadio Hearn with Koizumi Setsu. The garden project will commemorate the writer, who spent his boyhood summers in Tramore.

Sat, Jun 28, 2014, 01:00

The Japanese ambassador to Ireland has formally begun work on a new garden which will honour Patrick Lafcadio Hearn “the most well-known Irishman in Japan” and form a cultural bridge between the two countries.

Chihiro Atsumi yesterday turned the sod on the one-hectare garden at Tramore House in Co Waterford which is being jointly funded by local agencies and the Japanese World Exposition 1970 Commemorative Fund.

The project will commemorate writer Patrick Lafcadio Hearn, who spent his boyhood summers in Tramore with his grand-aunt Sarah Brenane, in the mid-19th century and later went to live in Japan where he was known as Koizumi Yakumo.

Yesterday’s sod-turning coincided with Hearn’s birthday in 1850 while the garden was inspired by a visit by his great-grandson, Prof Koizumi Bon, to Tramore in 2012.

Situated in a prominent position in the old town centre, overlooking the strand and streets where the young Hearn spent early summers, the grounds already include some of the essential components of a Japanese strolling garden along with the key structural features, rock and water.

The garden concept, which received a grant of €41,860 from the Japan world exposition project, was initially developed by Agnes Aylward, a director of Tramore Development Trust, in co-operation with Martin Curran of MBC landscaping who is drawing from his experience in Japan to manage the garden construction.

Mr Chihiro said he was honoured to turn the sod and added that the garden would give an opportunity to many people in Ireland to learn about Hearn’s connection with Japan.