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The National Trust for Historic Preservation

     The National Trust for Historic Preservation was formally established through the Act of Congress on October 26, 1949. The charter provided that the Trust should acquire and preserve historic sites and objects of national significance and provide annual reports to Congress on its activities.   In 1966, Congress passed the National Historic Preservation Act. The Act also provided federal funding in support of the National Trust’s work. The funding ceased in 1996, at which point the National Trust became entirely privately funded.

Following the adoption of the National Historic Preservation Act, the National Trust broadened its mission beyond administrating historic sites. The National Trust created the Preservation Services Fund to provide financial assistance to local preservation projects.  As the organization grew, the National Trust expanded its work, consisting of programs, educational resources, and advocacy. In 1980, the National Trust initiated the National Main Street Center, specializing in revitalizing historic business districts.

     Currently, the National Trust’s programs include National Treasures, launched in 2011, which campaigns to save threatened historic landmarks, and the annual list of America's 11 Most Endangered Historic Places, first issued in 1988, which highlights endangered sites across the country.

     In 2004, the National Trust for Historic Preservation selected Hakone as one of only twelve sites in the United States to receive the prestigious "Save America’s Treasures" award.  Other sites include Val-Kil, Eleanor Roosevelt’s home at Hyde Park, Thomas Edison and Henry Ford’s winter estate in Fort Myers, Florida, President Andrew Jackson’s home in Tennessee, the First Hermitage, and Hakone on the West Coast.  As a result of the National Trust' recognition, Hakone was able to begin extensive restoration and enhancements of the historic buildings, bridges, arbors, and other gardens features throughout the estate and gardens.  Because of the national prominence Hakone received, this historic site was selected by Columbia Studios to become one of the primary film sites for the movie "Memoirs of a Geisha" , winner of three Academy Awards.


For more information or to become a member, go to

Saratoga-Muko Sister City Organization

     City of Saratoga has a Sister City relationship with Muko, Japan.  The organization is 30 years old, as of 2014!  Three decades of education and fun have taken place since the original relations between Saratoga and Sister City Muko began in Muko, Kyoto, Japan.   Muko, a city of 55,000, was once the capital of Japan.  From 784 to 794, the city was the cultural center of Japan until the capital was moved to Kyoto and then to Tokyo.

     In 1966, the City of Saratoga bought Hakone Gardens, a beautiful private Japanese garden built in 1915 by Oliver and Isabel Stine, philanthropists from San Francisco.  They patterned it and named it after Hakone Gardens in Japan.  After the Stines, it was owned by the Tildens, the Gregorys, and then by a partnership of six couples, the Greshams, Halls, Kans, Lees and Youngs. In the 60s, Hakone came into the public eye and local citizens fell in love with the gardens.  Interest for a Sister City in Japan was first shown when Kiyoshi Yasui, a 14th generation architect to the Imperial family of Japan, was consulted by the city of Saratoga to implement a master development plan for Hakone Gardens.  Yasui, a resident of Muko, Japan fostered a relationship with some of the residents of Saratoga.

     Saratoga’s relationship with Muko was solidified in 1984 when 38 Saratogans (representing the City) traveled to Muko, Kyoto Japan, to sign the affiliation agreement on November 16, 1984.  The City Council of Saratoga City Council also signed the affiliation agreement.

     The initial focus of the organization was to widen the community’s knowledge and appreciation for Japanese culture, to promote Hakone Gardens, and to build peace and understanding between the citizens of both nations.  The organization works with the Hakone Foundation (which runs the Hakone Gardens) to promote events and host joint Japan trips.  In addition, the Sister City organization promotes student exchanges for students from the US to travel to Japan as well as to have students from Japan travel to Saratoga.  Living with families and learning another language builds international good will and understanding.

     Over the years, the Sister City organization has built upon its mission of enhancing peace and understanding between cultures and people of different nations by hosting yearly group trips to many nations, in addition to its continuing trips to Japan.

     If you are interested in group travel abroad, including periodic travel to Japan, please consider joining. Contact:  Ginger Lai at 408-725-8422.

Northern Culture Museum and Garden, Niigata, Japan Sister Garden Agreement

     In a historic first, a Sister Garden agreement was established between a major Japanese garden in America, (Hakone) and a centuries old garden in Japan (Northern Culture Museum).

     In 2011, Hakone Gardens and the Northern Culture Museum and Garden, Niigata, Japan signed the first ever Sister Garden Affiliation Agreement.  The joint objectives are for both gardens to promote appreciation of Japanese gardens, to contribute to the development of cultural programs at the citizen level, to promote understanding of the cultures of America and Japan, and to advance the organizations’ garden management.

     The Northern Culture Museum and Garden has an historic mansion and supporting buildings and many hectares of land, including an historic beautiful Japanese garden.  Now run by this Foundation and open to the public, it has been the family estate of the Ito family for many generations.  After 1946, the mansion (over 60 rooms), valuable works of art, and land were donated to the Northern Culture Museum and became the first private museum in Japan.  The Ito family was formerly one of the largest landowners in Japan.  This fabulous mansion  (built between 1885-87 and registered as a “tangible cultural property of Japan”) and garden are set in Niigata, an ancient farming and shipping town on the Japan Sea, north of Tokyo.  The Northern Culture Museum, provides tea ceremonies, indoor art exhibits, strolling pond paths, and outdoor garden iron and stone art.

     This significant impact of this historic Sister Garden agreement is to support the ongoing restoration, beautification, and repair of the gardens, buildings and structures; this includes enhancing the organizational stability and management of the gardens.  The agreement will help build a solid foundation of mutual support for both Hakone Gardens and the Northern Cultural Museum in order to insure a viable and healthy future existence for the benefit of generations to come.  This agreement will further the international understanding of Japanese gardens and build global relationships.

     Hakone Gardens in Saratoga, CA recommends adding the Northern Culture Museum and Garden to your list of must visit places in Japan.  Hakone Gardens also provides periodic group travel exchanges.   In addition, staff gardener exchanges are going to enhance and promote these beautiful Japanese gardens!   

For more information on The Northern Culture Museum and garden in Niigata, Japan, go to:

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