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.
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.