Panorama photo of the garden with the Pavilion in the distance-click on the photo to see a large size version
In July 2009 I had the opportunity to travel to Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada and take in the lovely Japanese garden that the community has set up. It is operated by the Lethbridge and District Japanese Garden Society and is well within the city limits. It is like an oasis away from the pavement and houses.
The garden was originally designed in 1967 by garden architect Dr. Tadashi Kubo taking into consideration Japanese design tradition, local Alberta flora and climate conditions as well as Buddhist philosophy.
They employ a Master Gardener and Master Pruning Technician from Japan to maintain the garden in an authentic fashion.
Upon paying the entry fee one can receive a nice brochure which includes a self-guided tour. It is an all season garden so any time of the year provides a lovely experience. Check out their website, listed at the bottom of this posting for more photos and information. Here are my photos from taking that tour myself along with description of some of the areas of this beautiful garden.
The entry sign and long pathway towards the gate.
Here is the inside of the gate. One is greeted by a young lady wearing kimono dress. She takes your ticket and gives directions and information. This photo is from beneath the pavilion roof.
The main building in the garden is called the Pavilion. The first photo in this post shows the full pavilion building in it’s garden setting at a distance. It is done in the style of the 17th century and is made of yellow aromatic cypress and cedar and uses no nails in the building.
The interior is of a traditional Japanese style with tatami mats on the floor and sliding shogi screens to separate rooms.
Above is the tea ceremony room. They do conduct actual tea ceremonies at this location on certain occasions. It has the traditional Ikebana (flower arrangement) as well as the tokonoma (alcove) in the corner.
A second room is also decorated in the style of a Japanese home.
The Dry Rock Garden
On the west side of the pavilion one can slide the doors open to a well tended rock garden.
The rocks in groupings of 3, 5 and 7 represent islands in the sea. The fine gravel is then raked in a pattern that combines the elements.
Mountain and Waterfall Views from the Pavilion Balcony
On the south side of the Pavilion building one can exit and get a view of the garden area that is representative of mountain and waterfall.
The built up rocky area is the mountain and in the midst of it a lovely waterfall drops into the still pond at the bottom.
This is a closer view of the waterfall.
Other Views from the Pavilion Balcony
As well from the Pavilion balcony there are several other nice views.
To the east is both the bridge and the friendship bell. As well further in the distance is a natural lake that borders the garden.
Rocks are placed carefully throughout the garden. Behind the trimmed willow tree is a large pagoda.
The large pagoda seen from another angle. The 5 levels represent earth, water, fire, wind, sky.
Here we can see some of the careful placement of rocks and other natural elements.
The bridge and the friendship bell with the well tended shrubbery.
Closer view of the friendship bell and the wooden log that is used to sound the bell. The bell tower is built on the compression principle. The weight of the bell holds the structure together.
Wildlife in the Lake Beside the Garden
I was fortunate to come at a time when the ducks had migrated to the adjacent lake and had nested and hatched their eggs. Here are some photos of wildlife.
The Nikka Yuko Japanese Garden is worth the trip to Lethbridge. Although the entry fee may seem a little steep it provides entry into several other attractions if used the same day . First is the Galt Museum and Archives which presents an overview of the history of the local area. As well the national historical site Fort Whoop-Up is included in the admission price.
One could make a whole day of family educational activity in Lethbridge for the price of the ticket. I’d start at the Museum, move onto the Garden and then drive out to the Fort.
Nikka Yuko Japanese Garden
Operated by the Lethbridge and District
Japanese Garden Society
PO Box 751
Lethbridge Alberta Canada T1J 3Z6