On a tranquil pond in the Arboretum at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign sits a lone gazebo facing the Japan House.
Officially titled Azumaya, this beautiful gazebo structure was designed and built by none other than actor and woodworker Nick Offerman. It was designed as a way to honor his former teacher and mentor, Professor Shozo Sato, as well as his time at the university. It was designed and built at the Offerman Woodshop in Los Angeles and assembled in Urbana, Illinois in 2014.
The structure is made of reclaimed old-growth redwood timbers. A shiny redwood slab bench sits in the middle, while engraved plaques can be seen by looking up at the rafters along the inside perimeter. One plaque reads, “This bench and arbor were designed and crafted by Nick Offerman in honor of his former teacher, Professor Shozo Sato, founder of the original Japan House in 1975. Please take a moment to sit and enjoy the calming beauty and serenity of Japan House and its Gardens.” A stone-embellished concrete path reminiscent of running water patterns, designed by Professor Sato in 2020-21, leads to and from the gazebo.
“I feel like my life has been so enriched by Japan House and the program instituted by our sensei, so I’m just thrilled that I can pitch in a little bit, hopefully to provide a spot to meditate on the beautiful views of the garden,” said Offerman.
Know Before You Go
The UIUC Arboretum is open to the public and metered parking is available in the lots east of and along Lincoln Ave. The gazebo sits on a pond across from the Japan House and can be found by walking south along the main pathway.