Sunday, September 21, 2014

Yushien Garden

I had a chance to visit the Yushien Garden ("Garden of Friendship") at Amherst College this weekend. 

The garden opened in 2002 and has since been listed in The Journal of Japanese Gardening as one of the top Japanese gardens in the United States. The garden was designed by Shin Abe as a contemplative garden. Located between Kirby Theatre and Webster Hall, the garden celebrates stong historical ties between Amherst College and Doshisha University in Japan. 

When I first entered campus on my way to the garden, I almost passed it by. When walking along the road towards the entrance in Webster Hall, you will see a nicely landscaped area along your right. 

Looking down into a steep wedge between the two buildings is where the garden rests, but it was not apparent at first. 

In fact, the entrance is via an enclosed passage that links the two buildings together, but in order to get to that passageway, you must enter Webster Hall and navigate your way down via elevator to the passageway. 

Once you arrive, you see a spectacular view that looks up to a steep incline to where the roadways lies, but is now out of view.

The garden is very well maintained and really is a spectacular garden. It fits in very nicely into what otherwise would have been an open gap between two buildings. The degree to which the landscape architects merged the plantings and topography into what appears to be a natural setting is remarkable. The garden is also populated with features, both man-made and natural, that creates a beautiful space that is balanced in its approach to creating an authentic Japanese garden.

Overall, the visit was well worth the effort. There is no doubt that Yushien is one of the best Japanese gardens in the nation.

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