Japanese Garden in Mishawaka More Than a Cultural Bridge

Shiojiri Niwa is a Japanese “Strolling Garden” in Mishawaka, Indiana. Shoji Kanaoka designed the garden. He is a Japanese Landscape Architect from Disney World in Florida. The space was dedicated in 1987.

My husband and I continue to discover so many nearby treasures. However, they require a little research. Thankfully, he has honed this skill over the years. I am grateful for his perserverence, because it always reveals something new and beautiful like this little gem.

We followed our GPS to a little corner of Mishawaka, Indiana. First of all, the various landscapes offer an opportunity to be more present with each step. As a result, we discovered a dose of serenity here.

Interestingly, four different bridges arc over imaginary streams and riverbeds. The bridges symbolize the link between the inner and outer worlds. Most of all, they remind us to walk mindfully and pay attention.

In addition, the architects created a larger body of ‘water’. Rake lines simulate ‘wave’ patterns that represent the ocean. Notably, the bright red bridge was inspired by an actual bridge near Shiojiri City, and it offers contrast within the garden.

Furthermore, this sweet little garden offers some insight to the symbolism in Japanese culture. The carefully manicured pines represent reverence for the old and are a symbol of long life.

We unknowingly posed beneath these pines with my 90-year old mother-in-law. She enjoyed the size of  the park, but we took a detour past the bridges to get to the pavillion, where she could sit.

Japanese Maple leaves are symbols of determination, change, and the call to practice patience.

Finally, a pavillion on the grounds represents a Japanese-style tea house. Traditionally, a tea house serves as a place of reflection and appreciation. The Tea-House Pavillion is elevated, so it offers a great vantage point to view the entire grounds.

The park’s flowers were not in bloom during our visit. So, perhaps we will return to see them when the time is right.

In conclusion, this beautiful space gave us just what we hoped for. The “Strolling Garden ” is a little piece of heaven in the middle of a bustling city.  A bridge to Japan’s culture found in the midwest, the Shiojiri Niwa, is a gift to all.