One of the oldest attractions at the Springfield Botanical Gardens is the 7.5 acre, Mizumoto Japanese Stroll Garden. It was created in 1985 as a relationship builder between Springfield’s Japanese Sister City Isesaki.
Isesaki is located in the Gunma Prefecture which is known for its silk fabrics. Upon walking through the front gate of the garden, one will be transported across the vast Pacific Ocean to experience Japan without even hopping a plane, paying some outlandish fee for tickets and flying out of the country!
Springfield has maintained a sister city relationship with Isesaki, Japan since July of 1986. Sister Cities are crucial to keeping an open communication channel when it comes to learning new things. Over the years, several governmental and cultural exchanges have occurred.
The city of Isesaki donated an Azumaya, better known as a gazebo in English, and cherry blossom trees for the Friendship Park at the City Hall in Springfield. Isesaki is also responsible for the donation of numerous trees as well as money for the construction of the tea hut inside Mizumoto. In addition, a landscape supervisor from Springfield's Parks Department was sent to Isesaki for three months to learn how to care for and maintain a Japanese garden. It is not an easy process for someone just starting out in horticulture.
The lush and lavish garden includes a large Koi lake, moon bridge, meditation garden, tea house and traditional Japanese garden landscaping. Tourists and locals alike adore this pristine location. It’s just minutes from a bustling city, but they come for the tranquility and serenity. Walking among the trees on the paths one can truly take in an authentic Japanese experience.
Essential to this Japanese garden, of course, are the water and rocks. Water is the symbol of the fluidity of life. Rocks form structure. Movement in the garden is around ponds, islands and across bridges. Each area of the garden is an individual scene which can be viewed and experienced separately from the others.
One needs to make sure to take time and really bask in the awe that is the garden. The essence of nature is the main theme in the garden, but the viewer is invited to complete the picture in his or her own mind. Traditional plants, like bamboo, dot the landscape as well as geese, turtles and Koi fish. It is true Japanese perfection.
The Mizumoto Japanese Stroll Garden is open from April 1 through October 31 annually. The operating hours are 9 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Thursday through Monday. The Garden is closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Admission is a mere $3 and well worth every penny. Don't forget to purchase fish food for the Koi and a tour guide booklet at the ticket booth before beginning your walk through. In 2013, numbered markers were added for self-guided cell phone tour which is great for all the history buffs out there. Don't forget to pack a camera.
The pictures you will capture here will be breathtaking! TripAdvisor ranks this location at number five out of 32 attractions in the Springfield area. It is a must see for a local or traveler alike. If serenity and culture is what you wish for; come check out this gorgeous garden and bask in the utter beauty that is Mizumoto. Arigatou gozaimasu!