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BBG Japanese Garden, a Stroll in Heaven

Last week I stopped by the Birmingham Botanical Gardens for a stroll through its authentic Japanese Garden. Designed by Mr. Masaji Morai,  the Japanese Garden was opened in 1967 by the Japanese ambassador to the United States. It contains traditional Japanese architecture and garden elements, including a sixteenth century style tea house.

One enters the garden through a red torii gate or "gate to heaven".

The Yoshino cherry trees were blooming, and a gentle breeze brought showers of the white blossoms to the ground around me as I strolled through this piece of paradise.

Here is the Taylor Gate, the entrance to the Cultural Center, where the tea house is located.Toshinan, whose name means the house where those gathered can light a wick of undertanding in each other's heart, was built by one of Japan's finest shrine and temple builders, Mr. Kazunori Tago of Maibashi. He used only traditional tools and techniques in the Sukiya-style tea house, designed with natural materials and rustic but refined simplicity. Maibashi is Birmingham's sister city in Japan, and its citizens donated all of the materials used in construction of the tea house.

I was fortunate to participate in an authentic tea ceremony here some years ago when I worked as a docent at the BBG. A Japanese geisha prepared tea for a group of us in the traditional manner. The green tea was thick and tasted like spinach! 

Here are more scenes from my walk through the Japanese Garden.

You can see more photos of the Japanese Garden by clicking on its photo gallery in the sidebar. Enjoy, and may you feel content and free as a cherry blossom in the breeze.  Deborah


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Reader Comments (26)

Wow,those Cherry tree blossoms are real stunners. There used to be a donated Japanese Garden in Miami but it was nothing like yours up there. Just a chain link fence around some concrete Budda statues and a small foot bridge. Not a Cherry tree in sight.

April 8, 2010 | Unregistered Commentersanddune

Oh, Deb, it's so lovely. I have a thing for Japanese gardens and didn't realize Birmingham's Botanical Gardens had one. I'll have to check it out next time I'm in Alabama. :) My favorite shot was of the Yoshino cherry reflected in the petal-strewn pond, with the red bridge for contrast. Magical!

April 8, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMeredith

What a beautiful garden. Those cherry trees are fabulous. This is a place I would absolutely love to visit. Thank you for sharing the beautiful pictures and I can see you had a wonderful peaceful time there.

April 8, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCherylR

Yes yes yes yes yes!!!!! Best garden style ever, hands down. Beautiful tour, thank you very much!

April 8, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBenjamin

Ohhhhhhh........Paradise......Heaven.......definitely! What a beautiful place! To think that I've been to Birmingham with my husband on a business trip and did not know of that place! Thanks for sharing this gem!

April 8, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterFloridagirl

Deborah, everytime I see a Japanese Garden, I wonder why I do not have one, they are so serene and beautiful.

I wouldn't attempt one myself, but I just love Japanese gardens. Thanks for sharing.

April 8, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDeborah

Looks like you had a beautiful day and a peaceful walk.

April 8, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterjoene

I love Japanese gardens. The design is always so unique and special. My favorite part is those bamboo fountains, called Deer Scarer. They make lovely clapping sound.

April 9, 2010 | Unregistered Commentervrtlaricaana

Dear Deborah, Normally I would find myself saying that I do not really care for Japanese gardens outside of Japan. But this is entirely different, not least because it is designed and built in a totally authentic manner and is Japanese rather than someone's idea of what such a garden might look like.

The scale is, of course, impressive, but then so are the plantings. What a perfect time of year to have visited with all of that heavenly blossom. I have SO enjoyed this posting and thank you for taking the time and trouble to give such an informative tour.

April 9, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterEdith Hope

oh Deborah isn't it just so beautiful. You timed your visit so well to coinicide with the cherry blossom.

April 9, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterRosie

Deborah ... that was absolutely stunning and so well presented ! This would be my dream garden .. Japanese style is so calming and so wonderful .. totally earmarked for me if the lottery ever kicks in ? LOL
Seriously if I did have the room and the money .. much of my garden would be in this style I NEED the peace and quiet ? ;-)

April 9, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJoy

Deborah, exquisite! We love to frequent the Japanese Garden in Portland OR, a place of which we never tire. The garden always offers a calming, almost reverent feeling each time we go. Thank you for sharing these with us. Diana

April 9, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDiana

Japanese gardens are one of my very favorite types! I really enjoyed seeing your pictures. Now I know what I want to do on our next sunny day, go visit the Japanese Garden in Seattle.

April 9, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCatherine

Hi Deborah~~ These photos are just beautiful. The last one is my favorite. The PINK tree, the boulders, water and grass... just lovely. Do I detect a koi in the water?

April 9, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterGrace

Sounds a fascinating place to visit. Those cherries must be breathtaking and oh what a perfect place for some quiet contemplation. Enjoyed your post Deb :)

April 9, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAnna

Nice photos. You are lucky to have a Japanese garden reproduced authentically in your country - the photos show that the scenes are no different from typical Japanese gardens that you find here in Japan.
The cherry blossoms are everywhere and in full bloom in my area (about 60 km from Tokyo) these days.

April 9, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterGururaj

deborah, this garden has such a really lovely understated feel. its feels authetic as opposed to the usual pastiche feel that Jap. gardens have outside japan.

Thanks so much for brining this to us!

best Wishes


April 9, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterRobert Webber

How beautiful. Those Yoshino cherry trees really make a statement, understated, but they have a definite presence in the gardens.

April 9, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCurbstone Valley Farm

What a beautiful place. I love the cherry trees.

I have read elsewhere that green tea is nasty, lol. The ceremony is supposed to be calming and meditative though.

April 9, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSweet Bay

Tea house is nice!

April 9, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterna

What a magical garden! I feel that bit more relaxed just looking at your lovely pictures Deborah, so I can imagine it would be just wonderful to visit!

April 10, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterHeidi

These photos are awesome. Japanese gardens are so zen. Thanks for sharing it wilth us.

April 11, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAutumn Belle

Wonderful post!!!
don't you just love how the blossoming trees reflect in the surface of the water!!!!

April 12, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJudy

This is what I like about Japanese garden design, so beautifully done, very relaxing, I just love it.

March 8, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterGia@ flowers tea

Enjoyed the beautiful photos - thanks for sharing them!

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