Connie Young Yu (Former Chair)


Hakone was my private garden when my parents, John and Mary Young were in the partnership that owned Hakone  1961 -66. How delightful it was studying  in the elegant upper house with my closest college friends and having tea in the wisteria arbor. Imagine a Japanese garden owned by  Chinese Americans, who kept it in the tradition designated by Isabel Stine! Along with my parents, there was my aunt and uncle -- George and Marie Hall, John and Helen Kan,  Dan and June Lee and the Saratogans Joe and Clara Gresham, their son, Eldon and wife Deon.  We never had any big events there as we felt a crowd would disturb the serenity of the gardens. I was sad  when the partners sold it to the City of Saratoga, but my father reassured me  it was for the best,  “so now everyone can enjoy the gardens.”

     Being on the Board these past years, I have been gratified to help continue the ideal of Hakone and to see the gardens grow. I feel another connection:  it is to Isabel Stine who was inspired to begin her Hakone when she saw the Japanese Pavillion at the 1915 Pan Pacific Exposition in San Francisco.   My grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. Young Soong Quong, were there at Exposition with their little three- year son John. They could have crossed paths in the throngs of people– the philanthropists Stines of San Francisco and the Youngs of San Jose Chinatown.   And to think someday that little Chinese American  boy would be an owner of the Japanese  garden that Isabel Stine created!