Jump to Content

Collection Guide
Collection Title:
Collection Number:
Get Items:
View entire collection guide What's This?
Search this collection
Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Access Statement
  • Publication Rights
  • Preferred Citation
  • Funding
  • Biographical Note
  • Systems of Arrangment
  • Scope and Contents
  • Custodial History
  • Related Materials

  • Contributing Institution: University of California, Berkeley. College of Environmental Design. Environmental Design Archives
    Title: Kaneji Domoto Collection
    Creator: Domoto, Kaneji
    Identifier/Call Number: 2017.12
    Physical Description: 20 Linear Feet:
    Date (inclusive): 1928-2002
    Language of Material: English .

    Access Statement

    Collection is open for research. Many of the Environmental Design Archives collections are stored offsite and advance notice is required for use.

    Publication Rights

    All requests for permission to publish, reproduce, or quote from materials in the collection should be discussed with the Curator.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of Item], Kaneji Domoto Collection, Environmental Design Archives, University of California, Berkeley.


    Arrangement and description of this collection was funded by the Domoto family and a grant from the Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning Department at the University of California, Berkeley.

    Biographical Note

    Kaneji (Kan) Domoto was born on November 5th, 1912 in Oakland, CA. Raised by a family of nursery workers, Kan Domoto worked in his family nursery from a young age, ultimately influencing his career in landscape architecture. The Domoto Brothers nursery, based in Oakland, was renowned throughout the Bay Area and is credited as the first nursery in Northern California to commercially produce camellias, wisterias, azaleas, and lilies imported from Japan. In the late 1920s to early 1930s Kan studied physics and math at Stanford University, but dropped out after two years to help his family with the nursery during the Great Depression. The economic recession resulted in the Domoto family filing for bankruptcy, and the nursery was foreclosed upon and seized.
    In 1938, Kan returned to school, enrolling at University of California, Berkeley to study Landscape and Architecture. During this time he worked on the Japanese gardens at the World's Fair in both New York and San Francisco. After the close of the Golden Gate International Exposition in 1939, Kan helped secure the transportation and installation of the rocks from the Exposition's Japanese Pavilion Garden in San Francisco to UC Berkeley's Botanical Garden in Strawberry Canyon, in the hills above the UC Berkeley campus. After working for the New York World's Fair, Domoto apprenticed for Frank Lloyd Wright at Taliesin in Wisconsin from August 1939 until November 1939. In 1942, Domoto and his wife Sally Fujii (a fiber artist who also studied at UC Berkeley), were incarcerated at the Granada Relocation Center in Amache, Colorado.
    After World War II, Kan and Sally Domoto moved to New York. Kan continued working with Frank Lloyd Wright and designed five homes for the Usonia Housing project in Pleasantville, New York; clients include Bier; Harris; Silson; Lurie; and Siegal.
    Around 1960, Domoto shifted his focus from architectural to landscape architecture projects. Based in New Rochelle, New York, he designed gardens for private residences and also larger institutions such as Dartmouth College, Hopkins Center for the Arts (Hanover, New Hampshire) in 1965; the New York Aquarium Penguin Pen (New York City, NY) in 1967-1968; AMF/Schulman Investment Corporation (White Plains, NY) circa 1980; and the Jackson Park Japanese Garden (Chicago, IL) circa 1981. His designs focused on Japanese landscape traditions and were heavily influenced by Japanese rock gardens, using rocks as sculptural forms in most of his projects. Major residential projects include: the Beskind Residence (Scarsdale, New York) in 1955 and the Durst Residence (Scarsdale, New York) circa 1965.
    From the early 1960s through the 1970s, Domoto was involved in the Bonsai community in the United States, attending exhibitions and teaching workshops. Domoto once stated in his book Bonsai and the Japanese Garden, "Developing a Bonsai has been a very satisfying form of art to me. It has given me a great deal of pleasure creating beautiful shapes and giving character to ordinary plants. The Bonsai art is different from painting sculpture or ceramics because it is a 'live art.'" (Domoto and Kay) In 2002, Kan Domoto died in New Rochelle, NY at the age of 89.
    Kan Domoto's rich career in architecture and landscape design spanned over fifty years and included over 800 residential, commercial, recreational, and educational projects primarily on the East Coast. He received many awards for his gardens including the Frederick Law Olmsted Award for his Jackson Park design in Chicago circa 1981.
    "Kaneji Domoto Obituary," New York Times, New York, February 10, 2002. Domoto and Kay, Bonsai and the Japanese Garden.

    Systems of Arrangment

    This collection is organized into five series: Personal Papers, Professional Papers, Frank Lloyd Wright (Taliesin) Papers, Project Records (Architecture), and Project Records (Landscape Architecture).

    Scope and Contents

    The Kaneji Domoto Collection spans the years 1928-2002 and includes personal, professional, and project records. This collection is organized into five series: Personal Papers, Professional Papers, Frank Lloyd Wright (Taliesin) Papers, Project Records (Architecture), and Project Records (Landscape Architecture).
    Series I: Personal Papers contain biographical information, family papers, correspondence, and photographs. Biographical information includes Domoto's resume and oral histories conducted by the Japanese American Citizens League New York Chapter and the Taliesin West Archives. Family Papers includes manuscript documents belonging to other members of the Domoto family, such as his brother Wakako and first wife Sally. Domoto's personal correspondence spans the years 1930-1952. The majority of correspondence are between Kaneji Domoto and his brother, and Domoto and his wife Sally. Letters between Sally and Kaneji Domoto occur primarily during the incarceration of Japanese Americans during WWII in the United States. Photographs include images of Domoto, and his travel photos from Japan and Peru.
    Series II: Professional Papers span the years of 1959-1997 and contains drawings, correspondence, writings, teaching records, lectures and tours, photographs and slides, awards, and clippings relating to Domoto's landscape and architecture career. Teaching Records contain student work from a course at New York Institute of Technology that Domoto taught. Lectures and tours include ephemera relating to his talks on landscape architecture and Asian/Pacific American Heritage. Awards include local and A.I.L.A. accomplishments.
    Series III. Frank Lloyd Wright (Taliesin) Papers span the years 1939-1985 and includes correspondence, photographs, and clippings as they relate to Domoto's work with Frank Lloyd Wright, Domoto's time at Taliesin, and his involvement with the Usonia Homes project in the late 1940s.
    Series IV. Project Records (Architecture) contains manuscript materials, drawings, photographs, and slides from Domoto's architectural projects and spans the dates 1948-1983—the bulk of the projects are from 1948 to circa 1970. Major projects include Arthur Bier's Usonia Home Site #53 (Mount Pleasant, NY); W. Harris Usonia Homes Site #26 (Mount Pleasant, NY); Ekanath Malavade Residence (Millwood, NY); and John Silson Usonia Homes Site #36 (Mount Pleasant, NY). The majority of architectural projects are based in New York.
    Series V. Project Records (Landscape Architecture) contains manuscript materials, drawings, photographs, negatives, and slides from Domoto's landscape architecture projects and spans the dates 1955 to 1992—the bulk of the projects range from 1964 to circa 1985. Major projects include the Beskind Residence (Scarsdale, New York); Dartmouth College, Hopkins Center for the Arts (Hanover, New Hampshire); Jackson Park Japanese Garden (Chicago, IL); Durst Residence (Scarsdale, New York); City of New Rochelle Cherry Tree Basin (New Rochelle, NY); New York Aquarium Penguin Pen (New York City, NY); Swansea Mall (Swansea, MA); AMF/Schulman Investment Corporation (White Plains, NY); and the University of California, Berkeley, Botanical Garden's Japanese Pool (Berkeley, CA). The majority of the projects are based in New York and Connecticut.

    Custodial History

    The collection was donated by the Domoto family.

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Landscape Architecture
    Architecture, Domestic--New York (State)
    Midcentury modern (Architecture)
    Rock Gardens, Japanese