Frederik Meijer Japanese Garden


Wow. This place did not disappoint.

My friend Karleen and I visited several different places today, and I can’t possibly fit all the photos of the beauty we saw into one post, so I’m just going to focus on this garden today (and mostly the Japanese garden portion of it) and then maybe tomorrow I can post the photos of our other destinations.

I met Karleen in Portland, some years ago, but a few years later she moved back to her home state of Michigan, specifically the Grand Rapids area. I hadn’t seen her in a few years, but today she picked me up in the late morning—after the early morning rain had stopped—and we headed out to the garden.

Most of you know what a Japanese garden aficionado I am. I have visited probably close to two dozen of them on this year’s journey alone. But this one—new to me—was especially poignant, because the man who designed it, Hoichi Kurisu, is the same master Japanese garden designer who designed (and re-designed, over and over) and then helped to build, the Japanese healing garden at the Oregon State Penitentiary. Many of you also know that my then-romantic-partner (and now close friend) Johnny Cofer—who is still incarcerated at OSP, 24 years into his two concurrent 26-to-life sentences—dreamed up the idea of this garden back in 2014, and the two of us spent the following five years advocating to the administration to build it, and then putting together a wonderful team of inside and outside supporters and volunteers to make it a reality.

I had previously visited another of Mr. Kurisu’s creations: Anderson Gardens, in Rockford, Illinois. (I will probably visit there again in a couple of weeks, in fact.) It is beautiful, so I was excited to also see the Meijer garden.

And it was glorious, especially with today’s sunshine, blue sky, and puffy clouds to reflect on the pond.

I’ll let the photos speak for themselves.

After the Japanese garden, we walked the path of the adjacent sculpture garden, which included many impressive works of art, including a replica of a horse sculpture designed by Leonardo da Vinci.

Tomorrow I’ll board a bus to Kalamazoo for the next segment of my journey. Tomorrow evening I’ll probably post the photos from the rest of Karleen’s and my explorations today.

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