The Japanese Garden at Frederik Meijer Gardens are as beautiful as the gardens we enjoyed in Japan, because they were thoroughly and meticulously recreated to be exact replicas of the gardens in Japan that inspired this beautiful place. Walk with me through these serene gardens, and see why they’re my favorite place in West Michigan.
The Japanese Garden at Frederik Meijer Gardens
Name: The Richard & Helen DeVos Japanese Garden at
Frederick Meijer Gardens
Location: Grand Rapids, Michigan
Address: 1000 East Beltline Ave NE
Grand Rapids, MI 49525
Admission: $15 General Admission
Students & Seniors $11
Hours: 9am – 5pm daily
Parking: Free parking
I simply adore strolling the lush, tranquil atmosphere of The Richard and Helen DeVos Japanese Garden at Frederik Meijer Gardens, because they remind me of our incredible six weeks spent in Japan earlier this year. Before I had visited Japan and realized how similar this garden was to the ones in Asia, I still admired its beauty and dreamed of a time when I might see their source of inspiration for myself. The attention to detail, and the amount of love and respect for the fascinating Japanese culture that went into recreating such gorgeous surroundings is truly breathtaking.
The Japanese Garden at Frederik Meijer Gardens, which took four years to create, boasts eight acres of authentic Japanese gardenscapes and winding paths that visitors are free to wander at their leisure. Furthermore, guests can find Japanese garden staples such as Shishi-Odoshi, or “Japanese Scaredeer” which are rocking fountains made of bamboo that fill with water slowly and occasionally make a knocking sound, as well as 13 carved stones throughout the gardens that feature haiku and poems.
Other mesmerizing and peaceful features of the garden include the zen stone garden (shown below), and a large collection of Japanese bonsai trees, many of which are decades or even centuries old. There is also a pond full of water lilies, bamboo gazebos, stone lanterns and pagodas, and many flowers and plants one would find flourishing in Japan, such as chrysanthemums, Japanese cherry blossoms, and Japanese maple trees. Similar to the one we walked in Kyoto, Japan, there is also a small bamboo grove within the Japanese Garden at Frederik Meijer Gardens, which offers shade and peaceful moments of reflection to those who would stroll beneath the towering stalks.
Perhaps my very favorite aspect of the garden is that it has four powerful, yet serene waterfalls. The waterfalls at the north and south ends of the garden are meant to represent the duality of human experiences ranging from feminine in the north to masculine in the south. The two other supporting waterfalls around the garden are strategically placed to enhance the auditory experience of visitors to the Japanese garden, and ensure that all five senses are stimulated as guests walk the paths, smell the blossoming flowers around them, see the intricate beauty around them, and taste the fresh breeze over the waters of the garden. It is in this way that the designers of the garden have sought to remind all visitors that they are experiencing life, and surrounded by the natural world, rather than apart from it.
An authentic Japanese Tea House stands in the midst of the Japanese garden, visible from every vantage point within the garden. It was handcrafted in the traditional way by Japanese craftsmen, then disassembled, exported to Frederik Meijer Gardens, and then carefully reassembled, using only traditional Japanese building implements. The Japanese Tea House hosts authentic Japanese tea ceremonies, or “chanoyu”, but six times per year, which are attended by tea masters and ambassadors from the Japanese consulate. It goes without saying that in regards to these ceremonies, space is limited.
There are also several works of art scattered thoughtfully around the gardens, from the Long Island Buddha head, which slumbers peacefully near a waterfall, and has a distressed surface to represent the struggles of mankind around the world. Four concentric squares comprise George Rickey’s Four Open Squares Horizontal Gyratory-Tapered, which sits on the garden’s east side. Five large, smoothed stones are another art installation that fit seamlessly into the serene expanse of the gardens, crafted by Shanghai, China native Masayuki Koorida, entitled Existence.
The Japanese Garden at Frederik Meijer Gardens is truly a splendid sight to behold, so if you’re able to visit, I can’t recommend it enough.
Until next time!
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