Zen and the City at Nitobe

Nitobe by the Water

One sunny afternoon a few weeks back, I was driving the scenic way around UBC and noticed a sign I’d never seen before – “Nitobe”.

Curiosity piqued,  I discovered that Nitobe is a Classical Japanese garden, one of UBC’s Botanical Gardens, and ranked one of the top 5 such gardens outside of Japan.

Cherry Blossoms

Eventually I wandered in, and on that day the gate-keeper happened to be on a break, with admissions collected via donation box. Definitely not a corporate attraction. There were a few people around, mostly couples relaxing by the water and students wandering the paths, but the overall sense was one of peace and quiet.LanternsTheir website explains the zen best;

Each tree, stone and shrub has been deliberately placed and is carefully maintained to reflect an idealized conception and symbolic representation of nature. There is harmony among natural forms – waterfalls, rivers, forests, islands and seas – and a balance of masculine and feminine forces traditionally attributed to natural elements.

A place of reflection, where each step reveals a new harmony, the garden is designed to suggest a span of time – a day, a week or a lifetime – with a beginning, choice of paths, and ending.

But what does it mean to the casual visitor? For me, it was a break from the bustle of the city, a place where everything is studied and placed with absolute thought, care, and perfection.

It’s impossible not to feel a little more tranquil in a place like this.

For more information click here.

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