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There is a lot of blank space here that I can not make go away at four in the morning.  I will put my volunteer techie on it.

In the meantime SCROLL DOWN and you will find the content.


WELCOME to JapanesePavilion.Org.  This web site was originally developed to share progress and pictures of volunteers building the pavilion.  The pavilion was opened to the public in October 2016. Idaho Falls held a ceremony with city dignitaries, volunteers and the Japanese Sister Cities delegation visiting from Tokai-Mura, JapanYou can find pavilion information if you explore this site a little deeper.  Let's talk about the garden first.

The pavilion was built as an addition to the Japanese Friendship Garden which has become very popular with local and international visitors.  The pavilion and garden are ranked as #4 on the most popular things to do in Idaho Falls by Trip Adviser.  The Friendship Garden is part of the Idaho Falls Greenbelt which is ranked #1.   Visit us, you get both!

Visitor Information:


The pavilion and garden are in a public park that is open year around, 24/7.  A few small areas may be reserved for events like weddings.  The public may stroll through nearby garden areas.


The garden is on an island in the snake river.  It is near the Broadway Bridge.  Foot bridges provide access from both sides of the river.  The best place to park is the Key Bank, 501 W. Broadway.  Parking is allowed in spaces not reserved for bank business.  Despite the Private Property signs at the entrance, public parking is allowed in most spaces. (Thank You!)  We are a friendly town.  Many maps identify the park as Sportsman Park due the fish hatchery built by volunteers in the 50's.  The large wood deck covers the old fish runs.


From I-15 take Exit 118 and go 1/2 mile southeast towards downtown.  When you cross the Snake River take the first right into the Key Bank parking lot.  The foot bridge is right there at the lot.


There are flush toilets in a small city restroom between the lot and the river (towards the water tower).  If it is closed for the winter months, the Public library is is on the far side of Key Bank from the river (Closed Sundays).  

For Information CALL Edward at 208-881-3569.

Your questions about the garden and other local attractions will help me update this site.  Texts and E-mails through "Contact Us" take days.

We hope Idaho Falls enjoys watching the improvements being made in the garden as much as the volunteers find satisfaction in creating them. There is a lot of attention to detail to make it as authentic as possible.  You should take the opportunity to come to the greenbelt and see it.  


NEW in 2017

An exposed aggregate sidewalk and landscaping were added at the entry gate to the lower area.  The sidewalk has steps made out of Lava Rok.  This replaces the clay path that was treacherous when wet. 

Judy Sydel raised donations for half the concrete work.  The City Parks Department paid for the other half.  Redline Construction (Jerry and Josh Youngstrom) prepared the base and poured the sidewalk.  They also volunteered time to move in landscaping boulders.  Edward and Mike Zaladonis designed the sidewalk, fabricated the Lava Rok steps and did the landscaping.


Happy New Year - 2016

December 2015 - Cold weather ended work for the year.  Plenty of snow for the Christmas Holiday gave the plants in the garden a protective blanket.  When the temeratures hover near zero,  there are impressive ice features surrounding the large waterfalls between the pavilion and the Broadway Bridge. 

Spring arrived early in Idaho Falls and work is resuming on the pavilion.


Redline Construction has agreed to take on the exposed aggregate access path to the pavilion.  The path has unusual artistic features and is being build on a site inaccessible to the large equipment usually used.  


Materials for the pavilions wood floor are in the process of being purchased.  Two hundred square feet of Port Orford Cedar has been hand selected for the floor.  This cedar only grows in a small area on the Oregon coast.  Most Port Orford Cedar is sold to Japan because it is a close match to cedar used in their historical buildings.  


Like the rest of the garden, finishing touches and improvements will continue to be made.

Entries start with the most recent and work back in time.

September - The tiles on the roof are completed and all the scaffolding is removed.  A lot of work done over the previous year is completely visible for the first time.  


The wood deck under the roof and the path leading to the pavilion become the top priorities.  Many things had to be put in place before the deck and the path covered them. Decorative stone walls were added in the pavilion to sit on.   A granite step was put in place to drop down from the wood deck to the river viewing platform.  Conduit is run underground.  Footings are installed to support the deck and keep pests from under the pavilion.    


The path will be an exposed aggregate concrete,  handicap-accessible path. that winds around boulders and runs against a stone retaining wall.  It will be visually interesting while accomodating a large number of visitors .

This collage of two photos shows the Moss Garden in the fall.  The moss is starting to take root.   The Moss Garden is being developed by Edward at the same time as the pavilion so visitors will have something to look at while sitting in the shade. 

Moss Garden

Woodwork details can be seen with the scaffolding removed.

In the early mornings the sun reflects off the river and dances on the pavilion ceilingng.

July - Tiles on the end of the roof facing Broadway have been completed and that scaffolding removed.  Visitors, and even the volunteers, are surprised with how impressive the roof is. 


There are up to 8 layers of tile permanently installed.  Last winter, only 1 layer was permanently installed.  Each tile is held in place with heavy- duty  wire, stainless steel nails and mortar colored to match the tiles.  The mason that worked with Edward on developing the techniques has never done work like this before.  Nobody in Idaho has.  We studied information and photos on the internet.


Japanese tile roofs are uncommon in the United States because of the cost and difficulty.  It is rare to have one with all the traditional layers of ornamental tiles.

Historical Japanese buildings  have metal ornaments at the peaks of their eaves.  This view of the eave shows one that was added moments before the scaffolding came down.   It was designed and modeled by Edward.  

Idaho Falls Foundry volunteered to do a rush job on making two sand castings.  

Young Auto Body donated an epoxy coating to keep the metal from rusting.


The metal ornament has a Chrysanthemum flower at it's center. This is a symbol of the Emperor and of all Japan.

6/19/15 - Amber installs tiles on the end roof using  colored mortar and  a custom form made to hold it in place.  When the mortar dries it will be the color of the tiles.  


Tiles are nailed to a 2X4 wrapped in black plastic.  Stainless steel nails are used so they will last as long as the tile.


Olivia Goguen helped install tiles a few days later, but I was busy and forgot to grab a photo.


Dale has been consulting with me on methods to install the tiles for a couple of weeks.  Tiles are smooth and the mortar does not stick like it would with bricks.  


Val Haddon, Clarke Kido, Guy Backstrom and Austin Jenkins have been repeat volunteers.  Some volunteers help for a couple minutes when I need an extra hand and I never know their names.  One lady in a wedding party brought us some bottled water.  


Mike Zaladonis  and I hunted for tons of the best possible boulders for months.  Nate Durtschi and the crew from Rock Solid Landscaping helped move and  install the boulders around the pavilion.  In this photo , a rock weighing over a thousand pounds is moved into place using a small track-hoe brought onto the island.  (only the chain sling is visible.)


Mike is designing a Japanese water basin arangement (Tsukubai).  These are used in Japanese gardens to wash your worldly cares away as you enter the garden to relax.


I am installing a rock and moss garden in front of the pavilion to enjoy.

6/17/15 -   To the left, Zach is blending one of a couple of cement mixes we use.  Tile Mortar is made from scratch and is carefully measured and colored.  The mortar is a type not comonly used in this area but was recomended by the tile manufacturer.  Regular concrete is used for deck footings and rock placement and light weight concrete is made with pumice to fill voids on the roof that are not seen.


John Stockwell grinds grooves into the tiles to help the mortar adhere (left) and places some light weight concrete on tiles (below).  The light concrete will hold up four additional layers of ornamental tile added later.  Rebar and wires are in the concrete to hold the tiles in place.

Guy Backstrom (Left) installs the first layer of ridge tiles using mortar forms that were designed by Edward and mass produced with precision by Guy.  The mortar forms work like a champ to hold mortar on an uphill slope.

Below Right, Brian Zaladonis helps install the wood structure that will support the seven layers of tile on the ridge. Brian is always on call to provide a second set of hands when Edward (his dad) needs them. Brian puts in his fair share of volunteer hours. Unlike other volunteers, he does not get to choose his hours. Brian is an engineer at NRF and part time grad student in his free time.


Below, Jason (a recently discharged Marine) and Austin Jenkins (an ISU student) help gather hand-selected boulders for the moss garden going in at the front of the pavilion. It was a heroic feat to hand load these 400 pound boulders into a pickup. Austin is also working on the decking.

Many tiles were installed temporarily last fall to protect the roof and to look nice over the winter.  These tiles were removed in early May and are being reinstalled permanently with mortar.  Some woodwork and roofing had to be completed at the gables.  These four tiles at the bottom of the gable had to be cut and installed before the tiles above them could be reinstalled.  Ten others in the same area had to be cut.



Exploded view to the Left.         Assembled view below.

McAffee software employees (right and below) spent a beautiful spring day planting trees, moving boulders and working on the pavilion's tile roof.  About fifteen volunteers were kept busy all day.

This is the third year that McAfee has brought a team of volunteers to the island.


In this photo taken in early May, the volunteers are taking off two layers of tiles from the roof that had been temporarily installed.

Late Fall 2014


Below,  Jerry Sehlke, Clarke Kido and Val Haddon attach field tiles using stainless steel screws.   The coldest part of the winter hit at Thanksgiving and work had to stop early.


The Japanese use nails.  We did not trust ourselves to hammer nails in while leaving the heads up exactly 1/16 of an inch. 

Hammers with ceramic tiles also sounded risky.

Edward determines tile layout at curved corners and draws a grid on the roof membrane.  Tiles had to be positioned within 1/8th of an inch in all 3 dimensions  (tiles are curved and the feet have to be rocked to raise the foot 3/16 inch using temporary shims.  If tiles are off, successive layers will not interlock.




Guy Backstrom sorts cedar planks by color.  His carpenter skills were put to use.  The cedar became the ceiling of the pavilion's interior.  Guy is a frequent volunteer and put in a lot of hours (occasionally with his young son).

The Sister City delegation from Tokai-mura, Japan, visited Idaho Falls the week of July 4th.  There was a reception in the Japanese Garden and they stopped by to explore the pavilion.  The ham wearing the cowboy hat is Edward.


While in Idaho, they visited several local attractions and attended social functions in the evenings.   They visit every other year and are usualy in the 4th of July Parade.  There is a little history on Sister Cities under the History Tab.


Tokai-mura showed me a great time when I visited several there years ago.  I expressed an interest in traditional Japanese architecture, landscaping and koi ponds.  They arranged for short visits to homes that were hundreds of years old and looked like movie sets.  Some homes had priceless koi and bonsai. We were welcomed by the modern families living in them.  We were lucky to also have longer visits with families that lived in modern homes where we could get to know them.  

I enjoyed getting up at sunrise each morning and exploring Tokai-mura neighborhoods alone before the organized tours.  I met several gardeners.  Most of these strangers invited me in for a tour and tea.  I hope they enjoyed my company as

much as I enjoyed theirs.

Tokai-mura donated funding for the ornamental tiles shown here.  They also made a generous donation to the garden project.  Most tiles and the other materials are paid for by donations from the public, local organizations, and the City of Idaho Falls.  All design and construction work is done by volunteers.


Below:  Mayor Casper and Mayor Yamada 

Eric Kulp (BMC Building Supplies) 

loaned some very useful power tools and worked on the roof.

To the right is a view of the partially complete interior ceiling.  The light- colored (unstained) timbers behind the orange hazard cone and far right are 6X12 inch lumber that holds the scaffolding over the river (right) and cliff (background).

The waterfall in the background provides a great view, cool air, and a powerful sound to the pavilion.

June - Work continued on the pavilion four days a week on site and every day in some way off site. Boards with subtle upward curves were designed and installed on the corners of the eaves by Edward.  Clarke Kido and Val Haddon are frequent helpers.  This photo shows the lattice that will be installed in the south roof gable.  The lattice is a traditional element and can be seen in the architectural drawing of the building.  Clarke put in many hours at his home shop routering, gluing, and sanding each lattice.  The building design required a heavy duty lattice that would hold up for a long time.


Several BYU-I students help with the pavilion.  Some cut rough-sawn 4X4s into full dimension 2X2 inch boards for the ceiling.  Some worked at soil sculpting (digging dirt) in preparation for the patio that will extend out into the river.  When digging dirt involves levels, straight edges and three types of shovels, you can call it sculpting.

Several other students helped with the incredible Japanese garden the pavilion is located in. 


Steve Dick (BMC Building Suplies) provided the wood for scaffolding which saved the project over a thousand dollars.

There are thousands of boards in the roof.  Most of them can be seen from inside the finished pavilion so they need to be stained and fitted carefully together.  In the corners the roof curves subtly up in two directions.  Many days of work went into notches and compound angle cuts at each corner.  When completed the corners looked like they just grew there. 

Dick Miller cuts hundreds of 2X2s for the ceiling.  Dick is a retired garden volunteer that frequently helps with the pavilion. Dick started when we were digging the first footings by hand.  When Dick is not cutting up on site, he is periodically fabricating pieces in his wood shop.

A large team of KOHL'S employees spent a day helping in the garden and the pavilion.  Below a skill saw is used to rip a rough sawn 4X4 into four full dimension 2X2s.  Trial and error showed that a short bloc of wood pushing against the fence was needed to keep the saw centered.  KOHL'S  also made a arge donation towards the pavilion and garden.

MCAFEE (Software) employees have helped with the pavilion cutting, staining and sealing wood.  Several others helped with the garden.  



Some volunteers go above and beyond.  Optional water feature mucking out.

Macafee volunteers stain several hundred feet of 2X2 for the pavilion cieling.


Pavilion wood is stained and preserved with a mixture of linseed oil, mineral spirits, and industrial colorants blended on site.  The oil finish is an old school recipe that soaks into the wood and after years of applications will almost petrify the wood.

Sterling McGuire delivers 300 pounds of 1X12 inch cedar for the ceiling in one load.  This is only part of the cedar being used.  Sterling is an incredibly hard worker that has helped several times each year. When he is not delivering wood, he is frequently staining it.  He hopes someone else volunteers to stain because he prefers the heavy lifting. .

John Kulp uses his power washer to clean graffiti off a stone sign near the pavilion. John has made several trips delivering wood with his triple axle trailer, seen in the background. Edward's minivan (also seen in the background) complains when delivering 10 foot 2X4s and refuses to deliver the 20 foot timbers.



Click on Pavilion History below to see the early stages of the pavilion construction and how the Japanese Garden got started.

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