The Nitobe Memorial Garden at UBC

Nitobe Garden Bridge

The Nitobe Memorial Garden is to me the most aesthetically pleasing part of the UBC campus, and I am fortunate to work only a five minute walk away from it. According to its promotional material, it is “considered to be one of the best traditional Japanese gardens in North America and among the top five outside Japan.” This Japanese garden in BC is designed from the trees right down to the individual rocks and pebbles. Various stone lanterns, which have different symbolic meanings, can be found throughout the garden, including one by this small stream just below a waterfall:

Nitobe Garden lantern and stream

The peacefulness of the garden is well-reflected in the next two photographs, including this one showing the calm waters of the pool…

Nitobe Garden lantern, rock and pond

…and this one, showing the sunlight through the trees:

Nitobe Garden sun in the trees

The following picture shows, in the distance, a stone pagoda, an early Buddhist symbol widely used before that religion’s iconography used the figure of the Buddha. I can’t help feeling amused that after photographing so many pagodas in South Korea (where it is called a “tap”), I still take great delight in finding one here. Lotus flower designs can also be seen in numerous places throughout the garden.

Nitobe Garden with pagoda and bridge - Copy

The garden and its paths can be thought of as representing the stages of life’s journey, from infancy and its dangers, through the way of teenage rebellion (a dead end!), and on to adult wisdom. It’s a wonderful place to bring one’s family, or just oneself; I have done both, happily. My only recommendation for the visitor is to buy one of the brochures from the little booth outside the gate; it explains the symbolism of the garden well.

Nitobe Garden

Addendum of mostly-pasted text adapted from a more recent post:

The garden is, indeed, a real gem, and well worth visiting, despite its modest size; the garden is important, too, inasmuch as it bears witness to the historic bonds between Japan and Vancouver, and I feel the city is lucky to have it. In terms of the Asian history of Vancouver, it also forms an interesting counterpoint to the Chinese garden downtown. I enjoy both gardens, and will return again many times to each.