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Restored: A Quiet Corner of Japan in Liverpool
Riverside Park, Liverpool

Opening June 2011

 

 

In 1984 Liverpool played host to the International Garden Festival which ran for six months. It was the first formal international exposition to be held in the UK as a special horticultural exhibition. The opening was attended by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and on Japan Day, which heralded a week of Japanese-related events, a visit was made by His Imperial Highness The Crown Prince of Japan, who was then studying at Oxford University.

 

Two years earlier, the UK had sent out a request to the Japanese government to exhibit a Japanese garden and, in 1983, the Japanese garden landscaping company, Hakone Ueki Ltd, was commissioned to design and build a traditional Japanese garden for the festival. The original Japanese garden was a sizable 1400m2 and was kai-yu-shiki (strolling garden) featuring a chisen (pond and spring)

The garden was well received by visitors but sadly, after the festival had finished, conservation and maintenance were neglected. During the following years, the land was leased to a variety of owners, always with the provision that the Japanese garden be restored but this was never fulfilled. By 2008 the garden was in a very poor condition, with some artefacts having been stolen and others vandalised or burnt down. The Japanese garden, which was considered the jewel in the crown of the 1984 festival, was in dire need of restoration.

In 2008 the land was leased by the respected Company of Langtree, and it seemed as if the dream of restoration was finally going to be realised. Angela Davies, Vice-Chariman of the Japan Society North-West, contacted the original landscapers, Hakone Ueki Ltd, and arranged for experts to come and assist. A £3.7 million grant from the North West Development Agency (NWDA) guaranteed that the restoration work could be carried out and that there would be funding available for ongoing maintenanace, provided by the Land Trust, when the Riverside Park, home to the Japanese garden, was officially opened due to take place this month.

 

The restored Japanese garden will be an integral part of the new 67-acre park and its open aspect links it to the festival parks original lake and waterfall as well as the restored Chinese pavilion on the opposite side. The garden has been expanded a little and some new features have been added such as a shukkei (representation of Mount Fuji).

 

The new park will link in with the Riverside Walk along the River Mersey.

 

The ongoing maintenance of the garden will be supervised by the Land Trust, who are hosting the VIP opening of the whole Park on Saturday 23rd July 2011.

 

For more information, visit www.festivalgardens.com

 

Japan Society North West

 

 

 

 

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