I found a really really pretty place o the edge of UBC. It is called Nitobe Memorial Garden and it is like a mini slice of Japan transplanted onto the edge of Vancouver! I have grown to love Japanese gardens. I mean, they weren’t something that I expected to like as a teenager when I first got to Japan. It’s just I have visited so many amazing examples, that I couldn’t help but start to appreciate them. I used to live in Nara which has some stunning traditional gardens so it was a lovey surprise to find something similar in Canada!
Apparently it is one of the most authentic Japanese gardens in North America. I can really believe that, as it really felt like stepping back into Japan during my lunch break!
To find the Nitobe Memorial Garden, head for UBCs Asian Centre. I’ve added a couple of photos of that as it is a pretty nice looking building too. Anyway, once you’ve found the Asian Centre, the garden is right next door.
It’s pretty easy to find the actual garden, it is surrounded by a wall and you can see the light shining through all the trees within. Is that not an inviting view!?
The one that thing that makes you remember you’re in Canada rather than Japan is the huuuge trees surrounding the garden! Plus the main entrance to the garden has quite a few maple trees; Those remind me of both Canada and Japan.
The place I used to live, Nara, has a shrine with hundreds and hundreds of stone lantern that line the walkway up to the mountains. A couple of times a year they light all of the lanterns. One of those times is a festival called the Tokae Matsuri, which you can read about here. Nitobe Memorial Garden had a few different styles of lanterns dotted around the garden. But this one really reminded me of Nara. Doesn’t it look gorgeous? i wonder if they ever light them? It would be an excellent place for Otsukimi (moon viewing) if they do!
Once you’re inside the garden, if you go to the right, there is a small waterfall and a pretty stream. I love the sound of the water running over the pebbles. When I visited no-one else seemed to like this part of the garden, but it was so relaxing.
The center of the garden has a large pond. There is a walkway around it, and bridges over some of the sections. I love the way it acts like a mirror to give you extra views of all the bright summer foliage. Most people seemed to spend their time in the garden circling this pond.
I’ll add an insight from Wikepedia just because I thought it is quite interesting:
“The garden has been the subject of more than fifteen years’ study by a UBC professor, who believes that its construction hides a number of impressive features, including references to Japanese philosophy and mythology, shadow bridges visible only at certain times of year, and positioning of a lantern that is filled with light at the exact date and time of Nitobe’s death each year.”
All this prettiness is open to the public. You can find out more about it here. It costs $7 to peek inside (unless you happen to be a UBC student, staff or faculty, in which case it is free.)
Once you have finished exploring the Nitobe Memorial Garden, have a look around the back of the Asian Centre. There is a beautiful Japanese bell there too. It was cast by Japanese Master Craftsman Masahiko Katori. And is covered by a traditional bell tower, just like the one behind Todaiji in Nara.
I visited all these places within my lunchtime and I have to admit, it was slightly strange to head back to work in Canada after spending my lunchtime in Japan!
Anyway, if you are thinking about trying one of the other walks I have written about on this peninsula, either in Pacific Spirit Park or down to Wreak Beach, consider taking a detour to Nitobe Memorial Garden at the same time. Hopefully you will like it as much as I did.