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.
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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
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”.
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.
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.
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.
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?