Reflections on the Nikka Yukko Gardens

November 30, 2006 :: Bob Hironaka and Van Christou
Moderated by Jill Kotkas

In 1942, many Japanese Canadians living along the British Columbia coast were forced by the Government of Canada to evacuate to Southern Alberta. Many stayed in and near Lethbridge after the war, gradually coming to terms with past wrongs and contributing greatly to the new communities in which they lived.

In 1963 civil-libertarian Cleo Mowers, Buddhist minister Yutetsu Kawamura, and tourism promoter Kurt Steiner developed a shared vision for a Japanese garden that would be a monument to those who endured the wartime hardships and remained in Alberta to settle into a new life contributing to Canadian economy and culture. The Nikka Yuko Japanese Garden, designed by renowned Japanese landscape artist Dr. Tadashi Kubo, opened in 1967 and was a major project to celebrate Canada’s centennial.

More than a million people from around the world have visited the garden to date. What messages do visitors take home about peace and cross-cultural understanding? What lessons have been learned by those who built the garden and by those who operate it? Is the garden still relevant today?

Speakers: Bob Hironaka and Van Christou

Bob Hironaka was born in Raymond. His working career was as a scientist in animal nutrition research at the Lethbridge Research Station. He served as chancellor of U of L. Bob was a member of the original Japanese garden committee that oversaw the planning, construction and operation of Nikka Yuko garden. He remains a member after 42 years. He is a co-author of ‘Garden of Serenity - Nikka Yuko Japanese garden''.

Van was born in Lethbridge and practiced orthodontics for 37 years. He supported many community initiatives including assisting in getting U of L established and serving as chancellor. He has supported the development of the arts in Lethbridge. His photographs appear in ''Land of Shining Mountains'' and ''Garden of Serenity - Nikka Yuko Japanese Garden''.

Moderator: Jill Kotkas

Location: Sven Ericksen’s Family Restaurant (lower level)
1715 Mayor Magrath Drive S., Lethbridge, Alberta

Time: Noon to 1:30 p.m. / Cost: $8.00 includes lunch

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