Traditional Japan in Aiea Heights

Walking up to the Tea House

The tranquil Japanese style garden of the Bellinger residence set the scene for the July 11th Tomodachi gathering. Tomodachi members Roger and Masako Bellinger opened their home to showcase their vast collection of art, antiques, and artifacts from Asia, Southeast Asia, the South Pacific, and Hawaii. The highlight of the garden was a custom built tea house sitting high at the back of the property and offering views of Pearl Harbor and Ewa. 

Roger Bellinger was a close friend of the late Hawaii artist John Young. The design and size of the tea house was thanks to Young’s urgings that it be big enough to serve as a guest cottage for him to stay in, complete with attached bathroom. Oddly enough Young never ended up staying in the tea house, but an original painting of horses in his famous calligraphic style graces the closet doors. Another such original horse painting is hidden on a pocket door in the house leading to the staircase.

A John Young original graces the closet doors of the Tea House

Approaching the main house, you are instantly reminded of a traditional Machiya guest house in Kyoto, with vertical wooden lattice screens covering the windows and a rock garden in front. Old hibachi serve as lotus ponds throughout the garden. The second story addition on the main house is like a mini art museum. Rugs from the Middle East line the floors in all rooms. Ceramics and figurines stand proudly on the shelves. Paintings by famous artists such as John Young, Madge Tennent, and Yasuhide Kobashi fill the walls leaving hardly a blank space to be seen.

Guests enjoyed hearing Roger’s stories on how various pieces were purchased and brought back to Hawaii. Without any knowledge of the Chinese language, Roger was even able to negotiate a price in the Chinese market. Many guests were interested in having a “part two” tour since they were still intrigued on pieces they did not get to hear a story about. Perhaps Roger has inspired a new generation of art and antique collectors.

Roger opens up a large Japanese screen he had restored.

We would like to thank Roger and Masako Bellinger for opening their home gallery to us. Thank you also to Tomodachi co-chair Mrs. Shirley Miyamoto for organizing this event, as well as donating a delicious Lemon Crunch Cake from The Alley for dessert. For a link to more photos from the tour, please click here.

Roger shows guests the sign he acquired from a John Young exhibit at the Honolulu Academy of Arts (now the Honolulu Museum).