Nitobe Gardens

The University of British Columbia has 57,000 students on a large, green campus on the coast, just south of Vancouver.

The campus has two must see attractions. One is the superb Anthropological Museum, the other is the Nitobe Japanese Garden. The garden is considered one of the best Japanese Gardens in North America and amongst the top five outside Japan.

We visited on a bright sunny day in April 2014 when the cherry blossom was at its best. The guide to the garden also recommends visiting in July when the irises are blooming and October to see the maple leaves. I would also like to see the garden in winter with a light covering of snow.

The style is that of a Kaiyū-shiki-teien [promenade garden] where a visitor follows a path around the garden around a lake from one carefully composed scene to another. The path through the Nitobe garden is intended to represent a persons journey through life.

The garden has a mixture of Japanese trees and native cedars and hemlocks, with the latter pruned Tokyo style. Everything is beautifully maintained, apparently by just one gardener [with some volunteer assistance].

There are several stone lanterns, usually placed at a junction of paths, they are intended to symbolise choices in life.

Seven storey pagoda

I have often been rather sceptical when some people have attributed special aesthetic sensibilities to the Japanese. I am not so sceptical after visiting this garden.

The composition is superb and the garden imparts a remarkable sense of tranquillity. It is easily the best garden, of any kind, that I have visited.

Several buses go to the BC campus from central Vancouver.

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