JAPANESE GARDEN OF PEACE
No ticket is required
A military history museum like ours, by its nature, brings to mind violence, destruction and loss — the price of freedom paid with human life. There is respite from the intensity, a tranquil oasis for solace and reflection. This is the Japanese Garden of Peace, a gift from the people of Japan to the people of the United States, in honor of Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz.
As you enter the garden you will see a replica of the Imperial Japanese Navy’s Marshal-Admiral Togo's garden meditation study. It was built in Japan, disassembled and shipped to Fredericksburg, where it was reassembled (without nails) by the same craftsmen who created it in Japan.
Many of the elements in this classic Japanese garden are symbolic: the black and white stones in front of the study represent the balance of nature — yin and yang. The raked gravel symbolizes ocean waves where stones and plantings stand in for Pacific islands. The flowing stream tells the story of a single raindrop returning to the ocean. We invite you to stop and rest and "visit with the stones."
History of the Garden
This Garden is like a church—enter and think good thoughts!
This garden was a gift from the people of Japan to the people of America, a symbol of peace and friendship. Craftsmen came from Japan and built it, using money raised in Japan by popular subscription. The Garden was first dedicated and opened to the public on May 8, 1976. It was restored in 2015 and reopened on February 19, 2016.
Many objects in the garden have special meaning.These are things to look for:
The Bamboo Spring: As you enter you will see water dripping form a bamboo pipe. The Japanese say that here you may purify yourself—wash your hands, “soiled in worldly activities,” rinse your mouth, which may have spoken ill of others, and cleanse your mind, which may have had evil thoughts. This symbolic purification will lead you to a deeper appreciation of the garden and what its meaning symbolizes.
The Japanese House (Togo Study): This small house is an exact replica of the study of Admiral Togo, of whom Admiral Nimitz called himself a disciple. It was built in Japan, brought here and erected by the same craftsmen. It is a fine example of their art in working with wood. You will see that it has shoji screens for walls and woven tatami mates on the floor. The square design and gable roof emphasize the simplicity, beauty and dignity of a typical Japanese house of the Taisho Era (1912-1925).
The Pool and Stream: The concept is based on the Ishin-no-Ike (Pond of One-heart) in the garden of the official residence used by Admiral Togo at Maizuru City, Japan. It is in the shape of the characters meaning ”one heart” or “loyalty.” The stream of life symbolizes the raindrop which finds its way to the sea.
The Stone Garden: Is to remind one of the Pacific Ocean. It gives rhythm, tempo and harmony by aligning stones against fresh, bright greens in the background. Which emphasizes tranquility by careful placement of the large rocks on a sea of white pebbles. The large rocks were found in fields and farms around Fredericksburg.
Pause and Rest: Take a moment to “visit with the stones” as the Japanese express it. Benches besides the trail are for you comfort and we invite you to rest as you read the following philosophy of the Garden of Peace written by its original designer, Mr. Taketora Saita, of Tokyo.
The Purpose of the Garden: “By the beauty of this garden, the Japanese and Americans who worked together to build it hope to transform the spiritual attachment between Admiral Chester Nimitz and Heihachiro Togo, their friendship and respect for one another into a friendly relationship between the people of Japan and the United States. The wishes of the two working committees have turned into success as you see the beautiful garden, a living memorial to this friendship.”