Landscape: A Japanese garden called the Miharu Garden, built in traditional Japanese landscaping opened at Dechencholing in Thimphu yesterday.

A group of experts from Fukushima Prefecture in Japan, helped build the garden as part of a JICA-funded project to train Bhutanese in the field of floriculture and landscaping.

The garden, named after the town which initiated the idea, features a waterfall and cherry trees.

The project was initiated by the people of Miharu town, Fukushima, when they first visited Thimphu in February 2013 to donate cherry saplings from a 1,000-year-old Taki-Sakura tree, in order to show appreciation and respect for His Majesty’s visit to Fukushima in November 2011 after the devastating earthquake and tsunami disasters.

The garden is located in the Floriculture and Amenity Landscaping Centre (FALC), a 24-acre floriculture and gardening research facility of the agriculture ministry.

The area was long untouched, formerly covered with trees and naturally grown bushes.  The river’s banks were also covered with a variety of overgrown grass.

A seed and landscaping business owner who designed the garden, Shigeji Nakada said: “The essence of our landscaping tradition is to learn from the best aspects of nature.”

Nakada guided FALC employees who cleared the area.  “With a number of trees and many bushes cut and cleared, the remaining plants, rocks and the stream show their forms and colours at their best,” said Nakada.

To fill the space left after the clearance, dozens of flowering tree saplings were planted, including cherry and plums.

Tai-Sakura tree is considered sacred in Japan and its saplings are distributed across the world as a symbol of friendship and goodwill.

As the climax of the landscaping, Okabe designed a three-stage, seven-metre long waterfall, which is connected to the river with a new 20-meter channel.

As a typical man-made design factor for every Japanese garden, “yotsume-gaki” or bamboo fences were built at several sections around the garden.  A veteran gardener and farmer,  Tomoyoshi Watanabe, instructed and helped workers complete the fences.

The project’s coordinator, Yasushi Yuge, said that experts and citizens from Miharu would come to help maintain the garden and add to the beauty of Thimphu.

“The project is considering building a Bhutanese garden in Miharu,” Yasushi Yuge said.

More than a hundred Japanese gardens have been built around the world in the last century and a half.

“This Miharu Garden, however, maybe one of the most distinctive and large-scale new Japanese gardens to be built in decades, perhaps,” he said.  “I and my colleagues are so fortunate and privileged, as we see little chance of creating a new garden of this magnitude any more, at least in Japan.”

The 30-month project is jointly implemented by the Agriculture Production Division of the Department of Agriculture, Bhutan, and Fukushima Taki-Sakura Bhutan Committee, Japan.

Tshering Palden