Tourist In Our Town: Kariya Park in Mississauga

Entrance to Kariya Park

Kariya Park is one of the most tranquil places amidst the bustling city of Mississauga, Ontario, Canada. It is a peaceful Japanese garden that pays tribute to Kariya City in Japan, the twinned sister city to Mississauga. Kariya Garden is located centrally in the core of the city near Square One, the biggest shopping mall in the area. However, you would hardly know you were near such a noisy and busy place when you step foot inside this calm and quiet park.

Kariya Park officially opened in July 1992, celebrating the 11th year anniversary of the twin-city relationship between Mississauga and Kariya. Its design was a collaboration between Canadian and Japanese planners as the city planners in Mississauga wanted to ensure that the park would be authentically Japanese in its character and appearance. From the city of Mississauga’s website:

The Japanese garden involves a sensitivity to aesthetic, rhythm and balance. The Japanese garden delights the senses and challenges the soul – a majestic enigma.

Justin and I visited the park back in the middle of May, hoping to see some cherry blossoms in bloom. Unfortunately, as we had such a harsh winter with some very severe snow storms, many of the flower buds did not survive. While we didn’t get to view the cherry blossoms this year, we were able to take in the beauty of the Japanese garden. Many trees and plants of Japanese origin adorn Kariya Park, including Ginkgo (at the park’s entrance), Redbud, Sweetgum, Peonies, and Japanese Maple. The park’s entrance is lined with Kariya, Japan’s official city flower, the delicate purple Rabbit-Ear Iris, which blooms later in the season.

The Pavilion and Friendship Bell

 

The Pavilion

One of the focal points of the park is the Pavilion, a Japanese-style building with two sections – one each representing both Mississauga and Kariya, with the Friendship Bell located in the middle. The Friendship Bell was cast in Japan and donated by Kariya City in the year 2001 to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the twin-city relationship. This bronze bell is a symbol of friendship between the two cities that will last forever. There are iris flowers on the bell and the symbol of Kariya City, which includes a wild goose (Kari) about to take flight and a figure 8 (Ya), both symbolic of future development in the city. If you combine the two words (Kari and Ya), you get the name of the city – Kariya! An inscription on the bell reads: “By welcoming the new century this bell is produced as a symbol of everlasting friendship between the City of Mississauga and the City of Kariya”.

The Friendship Bell

Large Pond and Bridge

 

Directly in front of the Pavilion is a large pond with a bridge crossing over it. There are many animals that live in the pond, including Canada Geese, ducks, fish, and even turtles! While we didn’t get to see any turtles, but we saw geese and ducks swimming around and resting on the rocks.

South Pond and Woodland

 

In this area, you will see water cascading down the rocks into a small pond shaded by many large trees. You can continue walking down the path into a shady, wooded area which is incredibly green with woodland plants and ferns. This is a great place to go for a little walk, relax, and take in the beautiful scenery around you.

Near the front entrance of the park, there is a plaque to commemorate the friendship between the two cities. Up close, you can see a photo collage of citizens from Mississauga and Kariya:

IMG_3777

And when you look from far away, you can see that the photos come together to create one single image representing the Japanese festival in Kariya, Mando Matsuri.

IMG_3779

A couple of weeks later towards the end of May, I returned to Kariya Park by myself (Justin was at work, unfortunately) because I thought that there might be some possibilities for cherry blossom sightings. This is way past the normal time of year that the cherry blossoms bloom in our area, which is normally around the 2nd week of May! Even though the trees inside the park did not produce any blooms this year, there was one tree outside of the park gates that had cherry blossoms in full bloom. I saw them just in time as I’m sure the petals would have fallen to the ground within the next day of so! I wish Justin could have been there to see the cherry blossoms with me, but there’s always next year!

To see pictures of Mississauga Park in Kariya, Japan, please visit the Mississauga Friendship Association website. It includes features like a large maple leaf structure, a log cabin, a replica of Mississauga’s Civic Centre, and a sculpture of a bear riding in a canoe! How Canadian!

Kariya Park is open daily from 7:00am to 9:00pm, and there are places to park your car on the street (Kariya Drive). These spots are limited and there is a small parking fee, so you might be able to park at Square One Shopping Mall and walk over. Garden pathways are not cleared in the winter months, so access may be limited during those times.

I hope you enjoyed this tour of a peaceful place in the middle of a busy city!

Do you have a favorite park in your hometown? Are there any hidden gems or peaceful places to visit?

 

13 Responses

  1. Pasation Travellers
    | Reply

    Thank you for sharing this hidden gem in the midst of an urban area. From the beautiful photography I can visualize a peaceful place to go for a stroll and be part of nature…definitely planning a visit soon!

    Safe travels,
    Tony

    • Justin and Lauren
      | Reply

      You’re welcome, I’m glad you enjoyed it! It is a really peaceful spot for a little walk or just admiring your surroundings!

  2. hikebiketravel
    | Reply

    Looks like a great place, My fave in Calgary is Nose Hill Park – it’s wilder but it provides great city, prairie and mountain views.
    I have been through Mississauga a zillion times but have never heard of this park.

    • Justin and Lauren
      | Reply

      I’d love to visit some parks in Calgary! It would be amazing to go hiking in Alberta, too, as I’ve seen from your blog 🙂

  3. Dave
    | Reply

    What a unique (and tranquil) spot inside a North American city. It’s great that the twinned cities have gone to such lengths to associate with each other – usually you just see a street named after the other city and a plaque!

    • Justin and Lauren
      | Reply

      They really do put a lot of effort into staying connected and helping each other out! It’s really nice to see. Our mayor is amazing. She’s very well known around here, Mayor Hazel McCallion – she’s been elected mayor for 35 years and is finally retiring next year at age 93! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hazel_McCallion

  4. Sam
    | Reply

    I love Japanese gardens, and this one looks really lovely! I also love the ‘being a tourist in your own town’ thing. There are so many places I want to visit in the UK, and even in London (my hometown), every time I go back, there are new things to discover. It’s so easy to overlook these things that are so close to home – glad you’re taking full advantage of them!

    • Justin and Lauren
      | Reply

      I like exploring areas of our town that we haven’t visited before – it’s a lot of fun, especially when we can’t be traveling about to foreign destinations! I also hope it’s helpful for anyone else who’s looking for things to do around here, if they’re visiting or if they live here! I’d love to explore London sometime too! that would be amazing.

  5. Becky Padmore
    | Reply

    Looks very zen! I love places like this, great photos too!

    • Justin and Lauren
      | Reply

      It is a really nice little park with some character, too! A peaceful place in the city.

  6. I love Japanese gardens and this one is a beauty. What a peaceful place to stroll around and relax. I’m glad you went back for the cherry blossoms. That picture is great! It’s always great to be a tourist in your hometown. There’s a reason people come to visit it after all. Our favorite is Balboa Park here in San Diego.

    • Justin and Lauren
      | Reply

      It is very peaceful and would be a great place to just relax and even read a book!

  7. […] Kariya Park, Mississauga (Cherry Blossoms) […]

Leave a Reply

CommentLuv badge