Vancouver Sights – Nitobe Memorial Garden

Vancouver Sights – Nitobe Memorial Garden

Vancouver sights- Nitobe memorial gardenI 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.

26 thoughts on “Vancouver Sights – Nitobe Memorial Garden

  1. Wow – gorgeous. Even the pictures are relaxing. I can only imagine how tranquil it must be to walk amongst the trees and lanterns. I love the reference to “shadow bridges.” How cool to see those huh?

    Patricia Rickrode
    w/a Jansen Schmidt

    1. Thanks Patricia!
      I love the idea of shadow bridges. and the whole garden WAS relaxing. I am a little intrigued to see what it looks like in different seasons next…

  2. Nitobe is a lovely spot for some peace and quiet – I’ve only visited it a couple of times which is a travesty considering how long I’ve worked at UBC…

    1. Did you go in the summer when it was all green like my photos? I’m curious how it will look when those maple trees turn red!

      1. I’ve only visited in the spring when all the cherry blossom was out but I imagine it’ll be lovely when the maples turn

    1. Yay! I’m really glad that you like it too! I love that I just found it by looking at google maps at lunch trying to decide which way to wander. It’s made me wonder what other treasures this University might be hiding!

    1. Thank you for visiting! I’m so glad you like them too! You’d LOVE the gardens in Nara. They take peacefulness to a whole other level!

    1. You are very welcome! I LOVE your photos so I can’t wait to see more. 😀

      That bell was amazing! I love the one in Nara too – you are allowed to go and ring it and everything. I have a feeling UBC students might not appreciate it if anyone could ring that bell!

      1. I haven’t been to Japan, and I bet it’s a fantastic experience to ring one of those bells. I agree, it didn’t seem like the one at UBC should be rung by any old tourist. Too bad. They make such a gorgeous sound.

        1. Heh! I was going through some old photos last night and I found a photo of me ringing one of the massive bells. I had tried to show my dad, but he was so embarrassed that I was making so much noise that he pretended not to know me. I had to call him all the way back to take the photo!

          It would be good if they’d allow people to ring the UBC bell at the weekend when there are no classes!

  3. Wow this place looks so relaxing! How did they determine that this one is the most authentic Japanese garden in North America? I visited one in SF which was pretty cool but I want to visit this one too!

    1. Hah! I bet every half decent garden claims to be the most authentic! I mean it’s all subjective, so they could all be right (to someone!)

      I read the Emperor of Japan visited and said something like “I’m in Japan.” So, I guess that makes it sound pretty authentic!?

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