.All Trips / Pacific Northwest / Washington

A fall visit to the Nishinomiya Tsutakawa Japanese Garden, Spokane, Washington

Fall 2008 031 Japanese Garden, Manito Park

One of the things I enjoy about blogging is sharing less commonly visited but interesting destinations.  The Nishinomiya Tsutakawa Japanese Garden in Spokane, Washington, certainly fits that bill.  A smaller garden, well known to locals but not to many tourists, it has its charms!  When I lived in Spokane I’d commonly stop by as it was midway between the hospital where I worked and the library I frequented.  I enjoy the calm nature and beauty of Japanese gardens.  They are places where nature, tranquility, gardening skills, and art merge.

The Nishinomiya Tsutakawa Garden sits on the site of the old zoo (closed in the 1930s).  The garden was designed by Nagao Sakurai, a master garden architect (who at one time was …

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.All Trips / Alberta / Central Canada / North America

Nikka Yuko Japanese Gardens, Lethbridge

01b Nikka Yuko Japanese Garden, Lethbridge.  Pavilion

I’m fond of visiting gardens and enjoy their beauty and tranquility.  This seems especially true of the Japanese Gardens I’ve visited, which combine the various elements — carefully pruned trees and shrubs, flowing and still water, and meticulously positioned rocks — in a balanced and pleasing manner.

One of the last places I expected to find a beautiful Japanese Garden was on the vast Canadian prairies, specifically in the small city of Lethbridge, Alberta.   The Nikka Yuko garden opened in 1967 as part of Canada’s 100th birthday celebration.  The garden covers just 4 acres in Henderson Park, but seems larger.  It was built to recognize the contributions of the Japanese community to Lethbridge, and as a symbol of international friendship …

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“Pic of the Week”, August 2, 2013. Japanese Garden, Portland

2013-031-August 2

One of the finest Japanese Gardens in North America — perhaps the best anywhere outside Japan — is found in Portland, Oregon, in the hills near downtown.  Covering five and a half acres of Washington Park, it’s a setting of calm and tranquility, as all Japanese gardens are.

I’m always been inspired by the asymmetric balance and harmony of these gardens.  The methodical selection, placement and pruning of trees and bushes, the blending of colors, the judicious use of water and stone make me want to do better in my own yard (though somehow I always fail with this).  It’s a great place to go for a slow relaxing walk.  The garden is open throughout the year and its character changes with the …

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.All Trips / North America / Oregon / Pacific Northwest

Portland, Oregon — The Cozy City of Roses

Portland 2013-001 intro.  Mt. Hood and city view

I can enjoy a visit to a large city as much as anyone — seeing the Eiffel Tower, Sistine Chapel, Buckingham Palace or Statue of Liberty are as exciting and fun for me as for any traveler.  But overall I’m more relaxed and comfortable, and derive greater pleasure from visiting smaller cities and towns than I do a huge metropolis.   Such places are easier to get around in and lend themselves well to exploration on foot.  They often have quality attractions not as well known or as busy as those in larger cities.

Downtown Portland and Willamette River

Such — sort of anyway — is the case of Portland, on the lush green banks of the Willamette River where it joins the mighty Columbia River …

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.All Trips / Hawaii / North America

The Big Island of Hawaii (Part 2) Hilo & Hamakua Coast

The Big Island of Hawaii 2) Hilo & Hamakua Coast

Hilo is tucked into the northeastern corner of the Big Island, on the slopes of Mauna Loa’s rainy side.  And boy can it rain; the region gets up to 200 inches each year though (fortunately) much of the rain falls at night.  It’s because of this moisture and the warm weather that this is the side of the island where you get to see great waterfalls set in thick lush tropical rain-forest.

Hilo is the largest town on the Big Island although its population is less than 50,000 — “small town” by most standards.  Its history dates back to the sugar plantation days when it was a thriving center of commerce, and it has a charming historic …

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