This peaceful garden located at Dinner Bay Park, is dedicated to the Japanese families that originally lived and farmed on Mayne Island. Early Japanese immigrants first came to Mayne Island in the early 1900’s to work the land and fish the coastal waters. They built homes and businesses that not only provided for people on the island, but also for markets on the mainland. At nearby Dinner Bay a saltery was established to process and package fish for export overseas.
Unfortunately in 1942, after the attack on Pearl Harbour in December 1941, all Japanese families were forced to leave their properties and their livelihoods here on the island and move to Vancouver where internment camps were set up. All their property and possessions were auctioned off and none of the families that left the island would return. These gardens were built to honour those Japanese families and the impact they had on the history of this island.
The entrance to the garden is a Torii gate located along a forested trail. The Torii gate represents the boundary between an ordinary space and a sacred space. Remember this as you pass beneath it and make your way throughout the garden and appreciate the tranquility of this space.
The idea of building a Japanese garden here was first thought of in 1987 when land was put aside for it. However it wasn’t until 2002 that the gardens were completed and opened to the public. Now it is a highlight of any visit to Mayne Island.
As you meander through the gardens you will find yourself immersed in stillness and beauty. There is a large central pond surrounded by lush vegetation in all shades of greens. Numerous rhododendrons and cherry trees blossom in the spring, followed by bursts of colour from poppies and peonies.
There are pagoda statues, art displays, and pretty water features to discover. A favourite of mine was the yin-yang symbol created from rocks.
The current art installation was called Porosity and depicts the use of an “olla” (a clay jug) for conserving water usage when growing plants.
Water features are everywhere and include a partly hidden statue, a small stream, and the central pond. The water within the garden represents renewal, calmness, and the flow of life.
There are pretty views every way you look with bridges to cross and benches to sit on and enjoy the silence.
As you make your way back to the exit make sure and ring the large bell. The sound created is used to get the gods’ attention and bring them close to you to offer their protection and ward off evil.
Visiting the Japanese Memorial Garden on Mayne Island is definitely a must-see attraction here. It is maintained by volunteers who do an extraordinary job making sure this garden can be enjoyed year-round by both residents and visitors.