The Anderson Japanese Gardens

After the hustle and bustle of a long weekend we decided to slow things down and take a trip to the Anderson Japanese Gardens in Rockford, Illinois.  Since Memorial Day is, or should be, a time for sober reflection, the gardens seemed an ideal spot to round things off. This is definitely a place for quiet contemplation.

The gardens first took shape in 1978 after John Anderson visited the Portland Japanese Gardens in Oregon and was inspired to create something similar on his own property in Rockford.  With the help of Japanese landscape designer Hoichi Kurisu he achieved his ambition and this beautiful setting is now open to the public.

As with most Japanese gardens, it’s not so much about flowers as textures and groupings of foliage, little pools, waterfalls, bridges and carefully raked gravel.

The West Waterfall took three years to complete. It consists of 800 tons of boulders and 250 cubic yards of concrete. Fourteen hundred gallons of water are circulated through it each minute.

Most of the ponds contain brightly colored Koi and for a nominal sum you can purchase little bags of fish food to throw out to them which causes them to go into an absolute feeding frenzy! I can see why so many people have these fish in their ponds. They’re fascinating and huge!

Other inhabitants of the garden include chipmunks, turtles and many varieties of birds. A flock of cedar waxwings were helping themselves to berries from one of the shrubs when we arrived and a great blue heron stood by the edge of the largest pond probably looking for lunch.

As well as the traditional structures of the guest house and gazebo there is also the Tea House where  last year I was lucky enough to participate in an authentic Tea Ceremony.  Professor Kimiko Gunji who was our hostess, had just retired after more than 30 years of teaching at the University of Illinois. She was a delightful lady and patiently led us through the ceremony as we fidgeted about,  first kneeling then sitting cross-legged while slurping our tea in the prescribed manner.

No tea this time but a very pleasant visit nevertheless.


26 thoughts on “The Anderson Japanese Gardens

  1. Your timing for this post is amazing since we are going there TOMORROW! We have had the privilege of spending a few months in Rockford on business and have been looking for the perfect day to visit. Thanks for the wonderful photos and information!

    I understand that they are the best in the U.S. and only second in the world!

  2. Hi just popped over from Gwenael’s lovely blog. I really enjoyed looking at these pictures. I have a very large soft spot in my heart for Japan and Japanese gardens. We were fortunate to live in Japan for three years and it truly is the most beautiful place. This garden looks like a very beautiful and authentic (albeit without the chipmunks) gardens. How wonderful to be able to visit something so beautiful.

    • Thank you so much for stopping by, Kate. How awesome that you were able to experience this type of garden in its natural surroundings! I love going to the Anderson Gardens and also the Japanese garden in the Chicago Botanic Garden.

    • Thank you! According to the visitor’s guide the shape of the lower level of the falls magnifies the sound of the falling water, so it seems like they put a good deal of thought into the design. It certainly is a very refreshing sound on a hot day!

  3. I do love the flamboyant flower gardens, but then I visit a Japanese garden and fall in love with the tranquility and peace one discovers. In Vancouver we have the Dr. Sun Yet Sen gardens, and I visit them frequently. Virginia

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