As a student at the University of British Columbia, it is definitely a treasure to have Nitobe Memorial Garden, one of the most authentic Japanese gardens in North America here in our university. According to Mr. Ryo Sugiyama, the Japanese garden is “a symbol of Japanese spirit, harmonious beauty to have perfect balance between art and nature.”

We are able to get a better understanding of the Japanese culture by visiting the garden. The garden acts as a significant bridge to connect between Canada and Japan, to the extent that Akihito, the Emperor of Japan once said “I am in Japan,” when he visited the garden. In Mr. Sugiyama’s presentation, he mentioned to us that there are different styles of Japanese gardens. One type is a tea garden, which is based on practical and aesthetic simplicity; visitors are recommended to slow down their tours and view it with their hearts.

When I first walked by the tea garden in Nitobe Garden, it reminded me of the movies that took place in ancient Japan; it gave me a classic feeling from the structure and design. It also attracted me to want to learn more about chadō (茶道, the way of tea). Within the tea garden, there are few divided elements or sections: the waiting room, the outer garden, the waiting bench, the middle gate, the inner garden, the preparation room, and the tea room. Just by walking through the garden, I was not able to get a full understanding of what each room, or section did, however I can see the high standards Japanese must have for their tea gatherings. In addition, these parts of the tea garden are designed to improve the interaction between host and guests at tea ceremonies. Nevertheless, Sugiyama also told us that one of the four elements of Japanese gardens is “objects.” A tea house fulfills the role of this element because it is the centerpiece of the entire garden that allows us to “enjoy the garden view with the tea garden.” I must agree with Sugiyama that with the support of the comfortable environment, I was able to calm down and think within myself.


Works Cited

Huang, Vicky. “The Japanese tea ceremony: an interactive cultural experience at UBC.”

Lindberg, Kari. “Our Campus: Ryo Sugiyama curates the Nitobe Garden: UBC’s cultural bridge.”

Sugiyama, Ryo. “Nitobe Memorial Garden.” Lecture Presentation, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada, February 24, 2016.


Contributor: Leonard Cheng