Northampton, MA 01063
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The concept for Smith’s Japanese Garden as a place to show appreciation for Asian culture on campus began in 1984 with President Jill Ker Conway and Professor of Religion and East Asian Studies, Taitetsu Unno. Landscape artist David Slawson, trained in the Japanese garden tradition, developed the original design, and installation took place in 1986. Although the garden has gone through a number of changes since then, the original intent remains. Rather than being a traditional Japanese garden, this garden incorporates elements of traditional Japanese design in the context of a New England setting. It is a garden designed for harmony with nature, and it serves as a retreat from a busy life.
Stone lanterns and a stone statue of Jizo, protector of children and of travelers, sculpted by Tom Matsuda, were added in 1998. After the removal of the Tea Hut in 2015, the garden was re-envisioned by Japanese garden consultant John Powell. Applying the Japanese concept of mitate (to see anew), the garden features repurposed materials. A stepping stone path provides distinctive scenes at each turn and leads to a stone bench with views over the pond towards Mt. Tom. One can see seven rock formations from the original design that portray the life of Buddha. New plantings complement the stonework. As Japanese gardens are planned for growth and change, so this garden will develop and continue to provide a place of respite for years to come.
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