Text by Heather McBride, THC Senior Communications Specialist, video by Patrick Hughey
The National Museum of the Pacific War in Fredericksburg, by its nature, recalls violence, destruction and loss – the price of war paid with human life. But the museum’s Japanese Garden of Peace provides a tranquil oasis for solace and reflection.
On Monday, April 30, the museum held a rededication ceremony for the garden, which was a gift from the people of Japan to the people of America in honor of the friendship between Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz and Admiral Heihachiro Togo.
This friendship between then-Ensign Nimitz and Admiral Togo started when they met in Tokyo at a reception honoring Admiral Togo and his victory at the Battle of the Sea of Japan in 1905. This friendship continued through Admiral Togo’s death in May 1934, where then-Captain Nimitz and his entire crew marched in Admiral Togo’s funeral. Admiral Nimitz was also instrumental in saving Admiral Togo’s flagship, the Mikasa, from destruction after World War II.
Several Japanese dignitaries were on hand for the rededication ceremony including Muneko Hosaka, the great-granddaughter of Admiral Togo. “My father was sincere and rational and that became my image of Togo Heihachiro as my great grandfather,” she said. “It is very special that this garden of peace is the birthplace of Admiral Nimitz, who showed respect to Admiral Togo and made a great contribution to the renovation of the Battleship Mikasa. This garden shows the strong spirit and importance of peace and it was given with prayers for everlasting peace. We appreciate and respect Admiral Nimitz who cared for the Japanese people so much.”
The garden was designed by Taketora Saita of Toyko and built by Japanese craftsmen using money raised in Japan. It was first dedicated and opened to the public on May 8, 1976, the 130th anniversary of the founding of Fredericksburg.
In 2015, the garden underwent a $400,000 renovation to restore it to the Japanese architect’s original design. Since its renovation, the Admiral Nimitz Foundation has become a member of the North American Japanese Garden Association and assigned a full-time, properly-trained gardener to maintain it.
Many of the elements in this classic Japanese garden are symbolic. The black and white stones in the garden represent the balance of nature. The raked gravel symbolizes ocean waves where stones and plantings stand in for Pacific islands. The flowing stream tells the story of a single raindrop returning to the ocean.
If you haven’t seen it yet, be sure to stop by the Japanese Garden of Peace on your next visit to the National Museum of the Pacific War. For more information, visit www.pacificwarmuseum.org.
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