• Tabitha Crosby

A Cultural Gem in South Florida, the Morikami Gardens

I know from looking at my previous posts that a majority of my hidden gems are outdoor related. For the readers looking for some more options, this Japanese retreat will offer more than just trails and trees.

The Morikami Gardens have been tucked away in current day Delray, Florida since 1904. Jo Sakai returned from his homeland of Miyazu, Japan to organize and pioneer farmers to assist in developing a similar agricultural development here in Florida. A colony was formed but unfortunately dissipated when the experiment failed.

As the structures remained the land was issued to become a park reopening its doors to the public in 1977 as a beautiful garden.

The garden know hold events from tea-parties in the Sishin-an tea house, outreach programs to local schools, and Japanese traditional festivals celebrated with the public yearly.

The gardens are held within 16 acres the surrounds Morikami's two museum buildings. With extensive paths, resting areas, and lakes there is plenty to keep you occupied.

The idea to allow for the continuous movement was a key structure for garden designer and Hoichi Kurisu. The gardens are designed to be an extension of the museums each represented as its own piece. The Roji-en: Garden of the Drops of Dew defines the six distinct gardens inspired by similar designs in Japan.

The gardens offer unique locations, for example, the impressive Bonsai collection. Where the art of raising and shaping a bonsai is taught. The Morikami is also designated a member of the World Bonsai Friendship Federation (WBFF). An organization that teaches love, and tranquility through the art of bonsai.

The WBFF has only announced this title to 2 other establishments in America.

Another one of there famous attraction is their Zen dry landscapes. Found in the Karesansui Late garden the open landscape with a few selected boulders scattered about. The use of plants surrounds the gravel creating a very unique blend of stone and earth.

These gardens are not meant to be walked, in just observed

The landscape technique was perfected in Zen Buddhist temples in the Muromachi period, 15th - 16th century, but with dedication and technique, the skills were brought to America and demonstrated here at the Morikami Gardens.

If you want to make a day out of it take note to have lunch at the Cornell Café. The Food Network covered the Morikami Gardens and rated the Cornell Café as one of the best museum restaurants in America. The offer traditional Japanese cuisine at reasonable prices.

After lunch, go and explore the museums. Where exhibitions are held throughout the year. Currently, you can go and see the Falling Water, Soaring Skies. It portraits profound poetry and intricate painting depicting Japan along with some unique crafted kites. Later in the year another rotation of exhibitions will appear keeping visitors coming back.

For all that is offered here, the gardens should cost a fortune. However, for the low price of $11.00 will allow you all day access. Just be sure to bring a valid student ID card to get the discounted price. If you forget it you will pay the adult fee of $15.00. Children under 6 get an entry for free and only ADA service animals are allowed entry.

Some parts of the year the discounts will not be valid due to events or festivals dates.

There are many festivals that are held at the gardens, from New Year celebration, tea tasting in the museums, and even a fun event where you taste new cuisines called Sushi and Trails.

Just be sure before you plan that the date doesn't rest on a festival date as some location will be shut down in preparation for the festival.

On your way out be sure to take a glance at the gift shop. They have a lot of decor and gift ideas for loved ones with a unique Japanese flare. Some of the items are even handmade from locals and are unique by themselves.

The Morikami gardens takes you back in time and transports you across the seas to a different culture. Explore for a day or an hour but you will not be able to experience something like this anywhere else.

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