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Ju Raku En – A Japanese Garden in Toowoomba

During our weekend road trip I couldn’t resist a visit to this Japanese Garden in Toowoomba.   We love Japan and we always include a variety of gardens on our travelsthere whether they’re parks or part of temple and castle complexes.  These are 10 of our favourite gardens in Japan but there are some stunning examples all around the world and we enjoy visiting them on our travels.  Ju Raku En are one of the largest, most complex and traditionally designed examplse in Australia.  I would have liked to get there are few weeks earlier to enjoy more of the autumn colours but there were still some striking reds on the maples  and during the fall with Queenslands slightly confused seasons you can also enjoy the camellias and azaleas in flower.

The ‘Ju Raku En’ Japanese Gardens are a beautiful spot to spend an hour or two in Toowoomba. They were named by the designer Professor Kinsaku Nakane of Kyoto and can be roughly translated as longevity and peace in a public garden.  It is a theme that Professor Nakane and the joint custodians of the garden, the Toowoomba City Council and the University of Southern Queensland (USQ), have stayed true to.

The masterplan was created in Japan after extensive study of the site and took 9 years to design and build before it was opened to the public on the 21st April 1989.  In the life cycle of Japanese gardens it is still quite young but has matured beautifully creating a peaceful and contemplative space within its academic and suburban community.

The garden features many of the design techniques and aspects of typical Japanese gardens while at the same time incorporating Australian plants to bring seasonality to this little pocket of Queensland.  There is a central lake, stream and waterfall, rocks and an island that features the ‘tea room’.  The island is accessed by a series of bridges, passing over the bridges represents the Buddhist symbolism of journeying to paradise.  Paths wind all through the gardens past azalea hill, to the bench where the dry garden can be contemplated, the pagoda that in spring will be drenched in purple wisteria bloom and under the gently waving bamboo grove.

Like traditional gardens it uses walls and borrowed scenery to create the illusion that the garden is bigger and more secluded than it is.  Winding paths give the opportunity to explore rather than taking a single lap and provide the 3 hectare site with around 3km of pathways to enjoy.

The Japanese gardens are located inside the University of Southern Queensland grounds and can be accessed either from within the campus which is open to the public or from various adjacent streets.  Entry is free and it’s open from 7am to 7pm daily.  With picnic spaces and toilet facilities available it’s an enjoyable spot to bring a picnic and stay a while.

Have you been to the Japanese gardens in Toowooomba?    Do you have other Japanese style gardens outside of Japan that you recommend?  We’d love to hear your suggestions in the comments below.


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