Half Moon Bridge: Mystery Solved

by Pasadena Adjacent


MVI_4733, originally uploaded by Access Palm 2009.

Sometimes you get lucky. A question you’ve been giving free rent to in the back of your head finally pays up. Case in point; the Japanese bridge at the Huntington Gardens. It’s called the Half Moon bridge. I’ve located a rare image of Half Moon bridge in it’s Chinese lacquer red manifestation and best yet, the fellow who built it. Master craftsman and Japanese immigrant Toichiro Kawai, who came to California in 1898. There’s the patriarch himself, sitting on the porch of his bungalo (built near Pasadena City College) on land he purchased before the Alien Land Laws had taken effect. Here is where the trail gets murky. Supposedly a man name George Marsh had a Japanese garden constructed on the property of his Pasadena mansion. Henry E Huntington admired it and wanted one like it. He hired Toichiro Kawai to reconstruct a Japanese house similar to Marsh’s on his Huntington estate. Kawai did so with the addition of the Half Moon Bridge and Bell Tower. If Kawai ever brought up the idea of sticking with authenticity and leaving the wood untreated, Henry wasn’t listening.

Remember my post on the Maryland Hotel? The backside of the Maryland (planted in Pepper trees) had a Pergola also built by Toichiro Kawai. All gone.