Friday, June 21, 2024

A garden of friendship

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Ruth Ann Hattori, marketing director of the Nimitz Museum in Fredericksburg says the enclosed Japanese garden there is a lovely place to contemplate anything in your life you wish to think about.  The museum is named for Admiral Chester A. Nimitz who commanded the U.S. Navy during World War II.

The official name of the Museum is National Museum of the Pacific War.  The museum houses a library, exhibits, and artifacts that attract visitors as well as students and scholars of World War II from all over the world. 

The Japanese garden is located behind the museum. 

“This garden is a gift from the people of Japan, and one of their gestures of friendship with the United States post war was to create this garden for us.” 

The garden is genuinely authentic. 

“It has Koi ponds, and we do have Koi fish here in the pond.  All the different plants and trees are authentic. The types of rocks and arrangements of all the elements follow in the tradition of Japanese gardens.  We have a gardener here who is trained in maintaining Japanese gardens.  She rakes the gravel or the sand every day in a particular pattern prescribed for that form of garden.”

The garden has audio commentary, which explains some history of the garden.  This is a sample: “The Peace Garden incorporates two classic Japanese designs.  The first is a waterfall, pond, trees and a stream representing the river of life.  The second is a stone garden with small rocks to represent the infinite ocean.  The large rocks represent islands.  In his last message to the Japanese people, Admiral Nimitz said the damage received by both sides was great, but with the passage of years, the wounds of war have healed, and, today, our countries have joined their hands in cooperation.”  The commentary is also in German and Spanish. 

“It takes only a few minutes to wander around it,” says Ruth Ann “but it’s also a very reflective space.”

Before World War II, Admiral Nimitz was a friend with the famous Admiral Togo of the Japanese Imperial Navy. After the war, because of the friendship, Admiral Nimitz was instrumental in preserving the Mikasa, the flagship of Togo’s time in the Navy.  It was going to be destroyed after the war, and Nimitz was able to help raise funds to make sure it would be restored.  It is now a museum.

The Japanese garden at the Nimitz Museum also contains a replica of Admiral Togo’s study, a gift from the people of Japan.  Materials were brought to Fredericksburg from Japan, and the structure was built on site.

In 2016, the great-great granddaughter of Admiral Togo came over to rededicate the museum.