toshin: light and heart 燈心庵
灯心
Toshin-an Teahouse - Japanese Gardens
Birmingham Botanical Gardens, Birmingham, Alabama
Toshin-an is a teahouse that was designed and built by Mr. Kazunori Tago of Maebashi, Japan, who is an eighth generation Miyadaiku (temple and shrine builder). Toshin-an is an example of a 16th century Soan style teahouse, made completely from materials brought from Japan and built using only traditional tools and techniques. The construction was completed in 1994. An adjacent waiting hut, or soto machiai, was also designed and built by Mr. Tago and dedicated in honor of Eva Woodin Gambrell. The materials were donated by the citizens of Maebashi. Financial support was provided by the Shades Valley Council of Garden Clubs and Gardens of Inverness.
The name Toshin-an is written on a wooden plaque directly under the gable. It reads:
an: hut or retreat
Together, the kanji script conveys the sincere sentiment that those who gather in this hut are able to light the wick (of understanding) in each other's hearts.
Toshin-an is part of a 7.5 acre site that comprises the Japanese Gardens, which are contained within the Birmingham Botanical Gardens. It is part of an interwoven collection of gardens built in Japanese style. Members of the Japanese Garden Society of Alabama assist with maintenance of the teahouse and participate in cultural and educational programming.


Mr. Tago revisited the teahouse in 2009 to participate in the 15th anniversary of the installation of Toshin-an. The Urasenke Birmingham Association had the special privilege of serving tea to Mr. Tago and his guests on this occasion.
The name 燈心庵 (Toshin-an) is carved on a wooden plaque, which is placed under the gable. It reads: (to): light (shin): heart or mind ( an): hut or retreat.
The sound toshin makes a homonym to
灯心, a wick of a lantern. Together, the kanji script conveys the sincere sentiment that those who gather in this hut are able to light the wick (of understanding) in each other's hearts.
gable. It reads: (to) light 心(shin):heart or mind ( an): hut or retreat