Mississauga's Japanese style garden reminds us of a tranquil lake of serenity in the heart of the City. The park was officially opened in 1992 in honour of Mississauga's twin city relationship with the City of Kariya, Japan.
Walk through the garden, and experience the deliberately created views and symbolic features. The park has the following features:
The gate is adorned with a copper grill of irises, Kariya's city emblem. A gingko tree stands at the entrance. Just inside the gatehouse you will find the stone tsukabai basin which was hand-carved by Fumio Naito, a sculptor from Kariya, Japan. This setting is a composition relating back to the tea ceremony. In front of the water basin is a low kneeling stone, and next to that another stone where you would leave your belongings before cleansing yourself at the basin. Notice the uniform stones which form the allegorical water around the basin. In the background is a native redbud tree, which blooms in May.
Cascade and Zig Zag Boardwalk
The zig zag boardwalk crosses a marsh containing Japanese irises and other water-loving plants. There are two important views from this point: one is the cascade waterfall with the overhanging red Japanese maple; the other is the view across the dry stream bed toward the small greenstone snow-viewing lantern.
Dry Stream Bed and Cherry Tree Walk
On your left, the dry steam bed represents a flowing stream. Note the different sizes of stones, carefully placed to imitate fast-moving currents and slow-moving eddies in the stream. The right side of the path is lined with May-blooming Japanese cherry trees. Nearby is a katsura tree, a species originating in Japan and China.
A cool, shady woodland is being developed in the south part of the garden to feature shade-loving woodland plants and ferns. Tread lightly should you step off the path - woodland plants only thrive in soft, crumbly soil. On the edge of the grove of old ash trees are several sweetgum trees, with maple-like leaves and corky twigs. The sweetgum trees at Kariya Park are unusual in that they are farther north than their usual natural range.
As you come out of the woodland, you will see the white snow-viewing lantern on your left at the far end of the pond. Note the turtle rock in the pond, which represents a turtle climbing out of the water. You will see redbud, sweetgum, and gingko trees, and tree peonies along the path leading back to the gatehouse entry.
As you walk toward the bridge that crosses the large pond, note the group of three fin rocks in the grass on your right, which represent young mountains rising out of the sea. On your left is a corkscrew willow.
As you stand on the bridge looking ahead at the large pond, you will see a group of rocks along the shoreline that represent a mother duck and her ducklings. On warm summer days, turtles can often be seen sunning themselves on these duck rocks. To your left, the rock bottom to the pond rises out of the water to form a shingle beach.
From the grass in front of the shingle beach , you can look across the pond to a wooded mountain in miniature. The tall Toro, or stone lantern, stands in an opening. Retrace your steps back to the bridge to continue your walk.
The pavilion is oriented toward both the pond and the exterior Zen garden. The pavilion area has a 'double identity.' It makes the park more street-friendly and enhances the double meaning and function present in many aspects of Japanese garden design. The two main sections of the pavilion each represent the two cities, joined in the centre with the Friendship Bell. The Friendship Bell, sponsored in part by the Main Street Ontario (Ontario 2000) funding program, was cast in Japan and is rung on ceremonial occassions.
Outside the garden wall, a row of zelkova trees line Kariya Drive. Zelkova can be found planted along streets in Japan.