Missouri Botanical Garden Japanese Garden

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St. Louis, MO
United States
Missouri Botanical Garden Japanese Garden

Landscape Information

In 1972 the Japanese American Citizen's League proposed a Japanese garden in to be constructed in the Missouri Botanical Garden. Designed by Koichi Kawana, Seiwa-en "Garden of pure, clear harmony and peace", reflects traditional aspects of Japanese gardens: hidden views, use of natural materials, irregular shapes, and blank canvases of color that induce the attentive mind to become lost in meditation. The landscape is authentic to the chisen kaiyu shiki teien, or 'pond strolling garden' style of the late 19th century Edo period, featuring open lawns surrounding a large lake.

At fourteen acres, Seiwa-en is the largest traditional Japanese Garden in the western hemisphere. A meandering path leads visitors through minimalist plantings of chrysanthemums, peonies, azaleas, and cherry trees. There are bridges from which koi can be fed, dry-gardens, and an island tea house. Streams and waterfalls empty into the landscapes centerpiece: a four-acre lake with four islands that are formed to represent traditional Japanese symbols. Two of them are inaccessible, the tortoise and crane islands, which both represent longevity. At the Azumaya waiting bench (koshikake machial), a guest can rest, shaded by plum trees and view the lake.