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.”

If you would like to support the maintenance of the garden, contributions are tax-exempt and tax receipts will be provided.

Docents & Volunteers

We welcome you to join in as a garden volunteer. Volunteers are needed to serve as garden docents, or interpreters, as well as to perform general light-duty garden maintenance.

Experience is not necessary. If you are interested in volunteering in the garden, please contact us at or call 312.943.7801.


The MBT Legacy Garden is open to the public the first Sunday of each month—April through November. Private tours are given by appointment. To arrange a tour, please contact us at or call 312.943.7801.

More information about our garden

For more information about our Legacy Garden, please follow this link: