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.Lone pine 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.

Perhaps the most important concept of traditional Japanese gardens, miegakure is the quality of remaining hidden from ordinary view.Family in Japanese Garden Each feature of the garden appears from partial concealment, creating a profound sense of mystery and encouraging visitors to continue their journey.

Reverence for Nature
From antiquity the Japanese have revered natural beauty, and their gardens seek to recreate this world in microcosm. Seiwa-en is designed to be appreciated in all four seasons. In winter, snow on bare branches or stone lanterns is regarded as a flower, or sekka. In spring the blossoms of cherry trees and azaleas give way to the myriad greens of summer and to chrysanthemums and vibrant maples in autumn. As one moves around the irregular perimeter of the lake, each turn of the path reveals plantings chosen to create a different focal point or mood that changes with the seasons. The beauty of nature is also celebrated by the garden's weathered stones, thatched roofs, wooden bridges and bamboo fences, whose simple forms and textures echo the surrounding plantings.

Communicating through implication rather than direct statements, many Japanese believe that meaning exists beyond what can be described in words.Japanese Garden They enjoy viewing their gardens through mist or rain while listening to the sounds of water and insects without seeing their source. Even a flower petal falling to the surface of the lake can suggest the ephemeral nature of life.

Peonies 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.

Elements in Japanese gardens are usually arranged in odd numbers of seven, five, or three to suggest the asymmetry of nature. Contrasts between slender and massive, vertical and horizontal, smooth and rough stimulate the mind to find its own path to perfection.

Japanese revere the sensitivity and creativity required to achieve an exquisite effect by the simplest possible gesture.Japanese Garden in Fog The simplicity of a Japanese garden results from a willingness to expend enormous amounts of care and resources on every detail to create an atmosphere of unaffected naturalness and tranquility.

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.Visitors in Japanese Garden

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.Japanese Wisteria 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.