Surrounded by buildings, where the Palermo woods begin, the Japanese Garden opens up like a strange place, a reflection of what lies on the other side of the world.
One Sunday when the sun was already promising the first summer days, we went for a ride around the City of Buenos Aires
and, in such a typical spot like Palermo, we found a portal that led us straight into the Japanese world.A Lagoon and Green All Around
The garden gate rises like a different kind of construction. Very unusual for this city. We paid for our admission ticket and immediately saw that green was all around. At both sides of the concrete path, the plants were an outburst of life and every now and then we would find a sign reading the name of each specimen.
But the heart of this garden is no other than the small lagoon around which the ride is organized. It might look like any other lagoon in Palermo, but the bridges in vibrant red over it give evidence of a different culture. In the background, the tea house is another detail to create the atmosphere.
The Story of a Relationship
The Japanese Garden was created in 1967. It was built by the Japanese Embassy at 3 de Febrero Park upon the visit of the then heirs to the crown Akihito and Michiko, present emperor and empress of Japan. Afterwards, the embassy donated the garden to the City of Buenos Aires to show the gratitude of the Japanese community living in Argentina.
In 1978, the Japanese Association made an agreement with the government of the City to enlarge and refurbish the garden and, later on, in 1981, the construction of a Tea House was approved. It would be a place where people could gather and access different aspects of the Japanese culture. Eventually, in 1989, the Argentinian-Japanese Cultural Foundation was created with the aim of fulfilling this task.
Carps in the Water
Several plaques in one area of the circuit commemorate later visits by the prince and princess of Japan to Argentina. All of us who crossed those bridges, stepped on those islands, walked those trails or queued to sit and have a cup of green tea with jasmine give proof that the purpose of this garden continues to prosper.
One of the most attractive activities for children is to buy food for the carps dwelling in the lagoon at the stalls inside the garden. The beauty of the venue and this would be enough to justify a visit, but the Japanese Garden has much more to offer.
With a very varied agenda, the Argentinian-Japanese Cultural Foundation presents a great deal of activities every day: from courses and lectures to shows of different cultural aspects of Japan (like growing orchids, origami, manga and animé), demonstrations of the tea ceremony, painting exhibitions, Go competitions and much more.
Argentina and Japan are not separated just by kilometers, but at one garden in Palermo, these two worlds seem to be engaged in conversation. As for us, we tasted a cup of roasted wheat tea for the first time.