Sunday, September 6, 2015

Japanese Garden in Grand Rapids' Frederik Meijer Gardens

Considered one of the best gardens in the United States, Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park in Grand Rapids is now an even more attractive destination thanks to the recent additon of the DeVos Japanese Garden. After three years of work, the garden was unveiled in June, and it was at the top of my "must do while in Grand Rapids" list during a late summer visit.

Meijer Gardens are worth visiting any time of year. I have visited what is arguably Grand Rapids' best known attraction at least a half dozen times, therefore I was excited to see something new. Earlier this summer the Wall Street Journal published an article which described two Japanese gardens in the United States - this one and the garden at Boston's Museum of Fine Arts.

We headed straight toward the new section. On our way we passed the iconic sculpture "The American Horse," an imposing 24-foot tall horse by American artist Nina Akamu. Although this monument dates from 1999, it was partially inspired by a work created by Leonardo da Vinci in the 15th century.
As we approached the gate to the eight-acre large Japanese garden, my niece immediately noticed a quiet fountain and ran over to investigate.
Upon entering the garden we were greeted by a volunteer who offered a map, and kindly pointed out a feature we may have missed otherwise: the locations of 13 large stones with poems engraved on them. These are based on Japanese poetry.
The centerpiece of the garden is a large pond, and the path a visitor follows takes her around the pond.
Naturally, there are many other features - small waterfalls...
sculptures, both in the water...
These moved slightly in the breeze. Beautiful!
and on land...
These were promptly named 'eggs.'
And she has cupcakes on her head!
fountains, a boardwalk along one portion of the pond, a bridge or two, a Zen-style rock garden...
 short side paths, a bonsai exhibit...
 even a tiny island with a gazebo.
The tea house, sadly, is only open infrequently.

Given that we were in the company of a three year old who tends to be easily excited and was continually running ahead to seek out the next cool thing, our stroll was not exactly leisurely, but we certainly enjoyed our inaugural visit. My sister commented that this was a place where she would willingly take a walk every week. Certainly, if you are ever in Grand Rapids, Meijer Gardens are well worth a visit! More information about the Japanese Garden can be found on the Meijer Gardens' blog post listing FAQs.


  1. GR ALJA Kongress needs to organize an excursion here this fall!

    1. Liene, have you already forgotten what our "Kongress" activities entailed? Certainly not visiting gardens. ;-)


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