Princess Ayako of Takamodo, a member of the Imperial House of Japan, has visited the Nikka Yuko Japanese Garden for its 50th anniversary.
The Nikka Yuko Japanese Garden in Canada welcomed Japanese royalty as it celebrated its 50th anniversary.
John Harding, who chairs the anniversary committee, said that the garden is meaningful as it highlights the connections between Japan and Canada.
This connection was on display as Princess Ayako visited, just like her father who made several trips to the area before her. When the garden first opened in 1967, members of the Japanese Imperial Family paid a visit and again on its 25th anniversary.
The Princess stated: “He always said that it was in Canada that he learned the true meaning of living together in harmony and importance of respecting different cultural traditions and values.”
Princess Ayako had a tour of the facility and spent some time reading about the history of the garden and talking about its features. She rang the Friendship Bell which was made in Kyoto; she also unveiled a plaque to commemorate her visit.
When she addressed the audience, she called her Lethbridge, Alberta, visits a “beautiful pleasure.”
She called the garden a “living monument to the strong friendship between our two nations.”
The Princess has made several visits to Camosun College in Canada as well as the University of British Columbia, and as such, she has strong connections to Canada.
Mayor Chris Spearman, who has previously met the Princess on a visit to Japan, spent time with her during a reception held earlier in the week.
Harding spoke fondly of the Princess when he said she was “wonderfully warm and engaging, which is delightful for us as hosts for this event.”
He added that she has “strong connections to Canada and is familiar with some of our less formal ways. I think some of that comes through in her open, engaging and friendly manner.”
Lois Mitchell, the 18th Lieutenant-Governor of Alberta, said that being able to welcome a member of the Imperial Family was an honour adding, “This garden is a perfect symbol of the Japanese-Canadian spirit. It was built through cooperation and friendship. Great thought and planning went into it so that it would be so world class.”