Hakone Estate & Gardens Master Plan

Hakone Master Plan


The Hakone Master Plan will serve as a guide to restoring and enhancing the structures and facilities throughout the 18-acre historic Japanese gardens.

Environmental Review


On May 18, 2016, the Saratoga City Council unanimously approved the Hakone Master Plan and the Resolution Adopting the Initial Study/Negative Declaration for the Hakone Master Plan. 
The City of Saratoga completed an Initial Study analyzing the potential environmental impacts of the Hakone Estate and Gardens Master Plan and accepted public comments on the study until April 20, 2016. The Initial Study addresses aesthetics, biological resources, water quality, noise, geotechnical hazards, and traffic and short term construction effects. If you are interested in reviewing the draft Master Plan Executive Summary, the Initial Study/Mitigated Negative Declaration, the public comments and the City's response to the public comments, view the links below. Contact project manager Mainini Cabute, if you have comments.

Hakone Foundation & City Council Joint Meeting - August 27, 2015

Miscellaneous Documents

Community Workshop


On April 28, 2015, the City hosted the second community workshop event (JPG) regarding the development of the Hakone Gardens Master Plan. The event took in the Cultural Exchange Center (CEC) of the Hakone Estate and Gardens, located at 21000 Big Basin Way. During the public outreach meeting, the City and the Portico Group informed community members about the status of the Master Plan process and gave a presentation that included Master Plan goals and site alternatives (PDF), and economic trends (PDF). The first public workshop was held on Tuesday, February 10, 2015.
Community Workshop Flyer

Hakone History


The Hakone Estate and Gardens was originally part of a sixteen-acre estate belonging to Oliver and Isabel Stine of San Francisco. It was Mrs. Stine's visit to Japan that inspired the creation of the gardens in 1917. Fuji-Hakone National Park and the Japanese gardens made such an impression on her that she employed an Imperial gardener to landscape her summer residence site in Saratoga. A Japanese architect was also hired to design the family residence and the guesthouse. The City of Saratoga purchased the property in 1966 for use as a City Park. Hakone Gardens now consists of the Upper and Lower houses and the four gardens of Hakone. The Upper House was built on the slope of the Moon-viewing Hill and was intended to be a place of quiet retreat. As in the traditional samurai style, it was built without nails and the exterior treated to give a look of age. The Lower House was the original Stine family summer residence. At the outside corner of the house is a sodegaki (sleeve) gate, crafted of split bamboo and Hagi grass.

The four gardens are the essence of the park. Each one has been maintained as an authentic Japanese garden. The Hill and Pond Garden was created for strolling, the Tea Garden for tranquility, and the Zen Garden for meditation. Kizuna-En, the bamboo garden, is the result of a close friendship with Saratoga's sister city, Muko-shi, Japan. The garden is comprised of gifts from the City such as stone lanterns and bamboo fences. The Sister City Organization was formed in 1982 and a formal relationship now exists between the two. In 1984, the mayors signed an agreement and this has initiated annual visits between citizens as well as a summer student exchange program. A Cultural Exchange Center was completed in the early 1990's and in 1997 the City entered into a 55 year lease with the Hakone Foundation for operation of the park. In 2004 Hakone was designated the oldest Asian Estate, Gardens and Retreat in the Western Hemisphere by the National Trust for Historic Preservation - one of only 12 historic sites in America to receive the Trust's top grant award: Save America's Treasures.

Hakone Foundation


Today Hakone is operated by the Hakone Foundation and serves as a multicultural center for the vast number of cultures on the West Coast. The Hakone Foundation is a nonprofit organization seeking to manage the Gardens toward independence from public financing by encouraging membership contributions, managing rentals of the buildings and gardens and by sponsoring programs. By serving as a unique multicultural venue for residents and visitors from throughout the Bay Area and the world, Hakone is becoming a true global forum for the arts and culture.

As an independent Foundation, launched in 2000, Hakone hosts thousands of visitors a year, many of whom travel from Asia, Europe, Australia, and Africa. In recent years, the Foundation hosted the Prime Minister of Japan and a number of Japanese and Chinese Ambassadors and Consuls General. In addition, the Foundation routinely brings in renowned artists, dancers, performers, and musicians from throughout the world. Hakone also serves as a venue for art and cultural classes and cross-cultural programs and exhibitions. Many Bay Area Corporations now view Hakone as the ideal setting for corporate retreats and conferences.

Hakone's unique and beautiful setting has helped it become one of the preferred venues for weddings, receptions, corporate events, and special occasions of all types in the Bay Area.