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Vancouver Day Trip: Nitobe Memorial Garden

A marvellous daytrip when visiting Vancouver is the Nitobe Memorial Garden on the University of BC campus in Vancouver. The Nitobe Garden is considered to be one of the most authentic Japanese gardens outside of Japan, even receiving praise from Emperor Akihito on a visit, "I am in Japan," he said.

Japanese gardens are traditional gardens whose designs are accompanied by traditional Japanese design and philosophical ideas. Every element in a Japanese garden is carefully considered. Every structure, lantern, stone, shrub and tree is carefully built, placed, and pruned according to these traditions. A Japanese Zen garden often depicts a story of human life and change.

UBC's Nitobe Memorial Garden with its authentic tea house is a delight any time of year.

It celebrates the memory of Dr. Inazō Nitobe (1862-1933) and his efforts to promote greater understanding between Japan and western cultures. The Tea House promotes sharing as visitors can take part in a Japanese tea ceremony, where a bowl of tea is passed between each guest (currently suspended due to covid protocols).

“Each tree, stone and shrub has been deliberately placed and is carefully maintained to reflect an idealized conception and symbolic representation of nature. There is harmony among natural forms – waterfalls, rivers, forests, islands and seas – and a balance of masculine and feminine forces traditionally attributed to natural elements.” (Nitobe Memorial Garden website)

“Water crossings reflect different life stages such as marriage, spiritual growth, etc.” (Nitobe Memorial Garden guide pamphlet)

“…the 7-storey pagoda adds an exotic beauty to aid peaceful meditation. The buddha carving suggests a teenager’s search for life’s meaning.” (Nitobe Memorial Garden guide pamphlet)

“Near the waiting pavilion and remembering lantern there is a stone basin (tsukubai) that is used for ritual cleansing before the tea ceremony.” (Nitobe Memorial Garden guide pamphlet)

“A Japanese garden is not only a place of beauty, but a place where the soul can find nourishment.”

After you've enjoyed your stroll through the garden, visit the nearby Asian Pacific Centre and the Museum of Anthropology. Wander through the Rose Garden and enjoy the spectacular views across the water to West Vancouver. Getting to the UBC campus is easy. There are many bus routes and connections. If you are driving, free parking may be found along the road, but it's rare to find a spot when classes are in session. There is paid parking nearby in the Chan Centre parkade and the Museum of Anthropology.


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