Welcome to SEIWA-EN,
"Garden of pure, clear harmony and peace." The largest traditional Japanese Garden in North America, Seiwa-en covers 14 acres, including a 4-1/2 acre lake surrounded by expansive lawns and a meandering path. This is a chisen kaiyu-shiki, or "wet strolling garden," a style developed by wealthy landowners of the late Edo period in 19th century Japan. Koichi Kawana, designer of Seiwa-en, said that a Japanese garden cannot be fully explained in words, but must be experienced. The garden must be seen with the mind, not just the eyes, allowing the imagination to move beyond the obvious to discover deeper spiritual meanings. Every aspect of Seiwa-en has been subtly refined to encourage visitors to slow down, to contemplate and observe.The careful observer will discover that Japanese aesthetic principles are interrelated, each reinforcing another. As you tour Seiwa-en, each turn of the path can reveal new subtleties of meaning. Zen Buddhist monks played an important role in the development of garden design, and many of their principles have been incorporated into Japanese aesthetic values. An understanding of some of the fundamental ideas will enhance your visit.
Reverence for Nature
To allow freedom for the imagination, Japanese gardens are monochromatic compositions of greens, browns, and blacks with color used only as an accent. Rocks, the backbone of the garden, are carefully chosen for dark tones to suggest age and mystery. The stones are deeply buried, with their grain following the horizontal contours of the earth to convey balance and strength.
Nothing in a Japanese garden is ever merely decorative. A simple bamboo fence is lashed together with twine to create a geometric grid that is both sturdy and attractive; a stone lantern accent is placed to illuminate two branches of a path.
Seiwa-en was inspired in 1972 by a proposal of the Japanese American Citizens' League to establish a Japanese garden at the Missouri Botanical Garden. The JACL secured the services of Koichi Kawana, a distinguished professor of environmental design and landscape architecture at the University of California, Los Angeles, who designed Seiwa-en and supervised its construction and ongoing development until his death in 1990. Seiwa-en was dedicated in May 1977. In addition to the support of the JACL, the project has been funded by grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, the Japan World Exposition Commemorative Fund, and many others.