One of the best parts of touring is that you have the opportunity to visit a lot of different places. Sometimes it doesn’t work out that I have enough time to explore (we fly in right before the show and jet out the morning after). But sometimes, we have a few hours or even a day or two to explore the area.
On my last trip out to Toronto, Canada for the Smooth Jazz Awards, I had a few hours to burn. I decided to explore the area around my hotel and I stumbled across Kariya Park, a tranquil Japanese Garden tucked away in the heart of Mississauga.
Surrounded by skyscrapers and the bustle of a busy city, Kariya is an oasis of peace. The park was opened in 1992 to celebrate Mississauga’s twin city status with Kariya, Japan. It features gingko and sweetgum trees, a zen garden, a lake, various structures, and… cherry blossoms. I got lucky, and they were in bloom while I was there, giving me a small taste of what the cherry blossom viewing experience entails.
A Little Bit About Japanese Gardens
Japanese gardens are called 日本庭園 nihon teien. Ornamentation is scarce and they are as much a practice in philosophy as aesthetic. Aged materials and plants are selected by designers to create an impression of ancient time or faraway place, and stepping into a traditional garden can often feel like stepping into a different world.
The tradition of 日本庭園 began during the Asuka period – around 538 to 710 CE. They began as pleasure gardens for emperors and other important figures, and though these gardens went through many evolutions, it wasn’t really until the Meiji period – after many of these private gardens were abandoned – that they were restored and finally opened to the public.
The park was peaceful, and it was a gorgeous place to relax while I mentally prepared for my performance later that evening. There were several different paths, so I took advantage with a leisurely stroll before heading back to my hotel to get ready.
Kariya Park is open to visitors seven days a week from 7am to 9pm. Winter access is limited.