On Friday 27 February 2018, Ambassador Tsuruoka bestowed the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Rosette, upon Mr Robert Ketchell, Chairman of the Japanese Garden Society, in recognition of his significant contribution to introducing, preserving and restoring Japanese gardens, and thereby helping to enable more British people to experience Japanese gardens.
Mr Ketchell learned garden design in the UK and before experiencing Japanese gardens on his first trip for Japan. Here, he deepened his knowledge and experience through study, and as a garden apprentice in Kyoto. Since then, Mr Ketchell has continued his dedicated passion to Japanese gardens, and he served as Chairman of the Japanese Garden Society from 1996 to 2003 and from 2016 onwards.
He took part in the design, construction and maintenance of a number of Japanese gardens in the UK as the Chairman of the Japanese Garden Society and there are now over 200 Japanese gardens designed or constructed by him in the UK, US, France and Norway.
Mr Ketchell has given many lectures and is committed to spread the experience and attractiveness of Japanese gardens. He has written exhaustively, contributing many articles to the Japanese Garden Society’s journal “Shakkei” over 24 years, and has also published books.
Ambassador Tsuruoka praised Mr Ketchell’s tireless contribution to the complex task of building, maintaining and enhancing the understanding of Japanese gardens in the UK. “His outstanding work in this significant field,” he declared, “has had a substantial, positive impact on the promotion of mutual understanding between our two peoples.”
After receiving his decoration from the Ambassador, Mr Ketchell gave thanks to the many people who had helped and supported him in his venture to build good relations between Japan and Britain. Mr Ketchell also gave a lecture about his personal history, work and passion for Japanese gardens.
The Embassy of Japan