Legacy Garden Update – 2018
Since its opening in 2014 our Legacy Garden has flourished under the care of some very dedicated people. This is a brief update as of the summer of 2018.
To make sure the overall design of the garden is maturing as intended we’ve had regular visits by staff members of Kurisu International, the designer and builder of the Legacy Garden. These visits have been valuable in certifying the health of the garden as well as providing us with guidance for care.
As for every day care we thank Alvin Hayashi who regularly maintains the beds and trims plants that are growing beyond their space, and Albert Sora who assists with the garden’s irrigation system.
Maintaining the Pine trees and Japanese Maples requires specialized skills and we are very fortunate that Shig Ito (Bonsai artisan and master gardener) took on this responsibility. Initially, Shig pruned the trees himself but now he is training members of his family (daughter Audrey Drechsler and grandchildren Misha and Robin) to take on these intricate tasks. Pruning trees in the Japanese style, much like Bonsai, takes years to master. You can view Shig’s beautiful work in our garden and you can also see some of his Bonsai at the Chicago Botanic Garden and each year at Ginza Holiday.
The Legacy Garden is open to visitors on the 1st Sunday of every month from 11 a.m. to noon coinciding with the Monthly Memorial Service. Special garden showings can be arranged through the temple office. We are fortunate to have a group of volunteer docents who regularly assist with opening the Japanese Garden for visitors, they are Ellen Dunleavy, Susan Kuse, Melissa Maslanka, Cynthia Mee, Marcus Moore, Susan Rakstang, Rich Taura, Jeanne Toguri, and Joy Zavala. Terry Cichocki coordinates the Garden openings with the docents.
Donations to help with the cost of maintenance or improvements to the garden are welcome and you’ll find the instructions to the right of this article. There you will also find our schedule, information for arranging a tour and a contact form for those interested in volunteering as a docent or gardener. Thank you for your continued support and efforts to keep our Legacy Garden growing.
Temple Garden Committee Members
Visit the Garden
On the first Sunday of every month (between April and November) the Legacy Garden is open to visitors at 11 a.m. through noon. A docent will be present to answer questions.
Private tours are given by appointment; to arrange a tour, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 312.943.7801.
If you wish to volunteer as a docent or gardener please let us know!
To make a donation to help maintain the Legacy Garden click the button.
The History of Legacy Garden
The MBT Legacy Garden, which was dedicated on June 22, 2014, is “an oasis of peace and inspiration for the Buddhist community and larger public alike,” says its designer, world-renowned landscape designer Hoichi Kurisu of Portland-based Kurisu International.
This nurturing garden was conceived to honor the first- and second-generation Japanese-American pioneers who founded the Midwest Buddhist Temple here in Chicago. With Japanese temple garden design principles, the garden is in perfect balance with the architecture of the temple. And represents a perfect thank you to the generations who made certain that the Midwest Buddhist Temple will continue to grow.
The physical creation of the garden began in late March 2014 and work was completed on June 1, 2014. The days between those dates were filled with, among other things, the temporary removal of several trees; a three-day search for boulders of the right shape, size and origins; and the planting, pruning and shaping of trees.
The boulders, set into place by a 30-ton crane, were especially important in representing the topographical features of Shinran Shonin’s walk from Mt. Hiei to the people in the Japanese villages as he spread the teachings of Shin Buddhism.
Other significant features include trees planted by the temple’s nisei members (second-generation Japanese-Americans) in honor of the issei (first-generation Japanese-Americans) who founded the temple in 1944; a handcrafted stone bowl water feature that sits at the base of the statue of Shinran Shonin; marble and slate from the highlands of China; and blue glazed roof tiles from Japan.
A final signature piece is a Japanese cedar gate at the western edge of the garden, custom made for the Legacy Garden.
In the spring of 2015, several wooden benches will be installed so people can sit in the garden and meditate to the sound of the water.
In the coming years, the garden will become even lovelier as the groundcovers grow and fill in—and, according to Mr. Kurisu, as the hearts of volunteer garden keepers and visitors become reflected in the Legacy Garden.
“Love has to grow,” he says, “otherwise the garden doesn’t mean anything.”
Dedication – June 22, 2014
The formal dedication of the Legacy Garden took place on June 22, 2014, in conjunction with our Temple’s 70th Anniversary celebration. Please enjoy these pictures of the dedication and first tours. All photographs were taken by Alvin Hayashi. (Click on any photo in this gallery to enlarge its image and view the entire album as a slideshow.)