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Name change honors Ed Tsutakawa’s legacy

MONDAY, APRIL 21, 2008

Were he alive, Ed Tsutakawa might have objected to a couple of things done in his honor Sunday.

A humble man, he might have been reluctant to add his name to the Japanese Garden that he helped bring into existence some 34 years ago.

“He wasn’t a person to look for recognition. He just loved helping people,” said his son, Mark Tsutakawa, at the ceremony to change the name of the garden officially to the Nishinomiya Tsutakawa Japanese Garden.

For most of those 34 years, Ed Tsutakawa resisted suggestions of well-meaning people to add this tree or that plant to the carefully planned and maintained formal garden in Manito Park.

“He constantly prevented things from being planted in here,” Taylor Bressler, planning and development director for Spokane Parks and Recreation Department, said.

But in Tsutakawa’s honor, Bressler said, they planted a tree as part of the renaming ceremony. It is, however, a weeping cherry tree, appropriate for a Japanese garden.

Tsutakawa, a businessman and artist who died in 2006, was instrumental in establishing the Sister City relationship between Spokane and Nishinomiya and in bringing the Mukogawa Fort Wright Institute to Spokane.

A letter from Nishinomiya Mayor Saturo Yamada, read at Sunday’s ceremony, called him “a bridge between two cultures” and said his city supported adding Tsutakawa’s name to theirs for the park.

Former Spokane Mayor Dennis Hession said he keeps a small figurine in his office that reminds him of Tsutakawa. It’s a figure of Yoda from the Star Wars movie, because Tsutakawa reminded him of the enigmatic movie character.

“Ed had an incredible way of helping you do the right thing without ever telling you what to do,” Hession said.

“His legacy will live on here.”


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