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L.A. Beat

Nikka Yuko Japanese Gardens partners with the community for a busy summer

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The Nikka  Yuko Japanese Gardens has partnered with numerous community groups and local businesses for a lot of outdoors, socially distanced fun this summer. The Nikka Yuko Japanese Gardens which officially opened their season, Thursday, June 3. They are open until Oct. 10.

“ It’s been really busy already,” said Nikka Yuko Japanese Gardens marketing and events manager, Melanie Berdusco.The Nikka Yuko Japanese Gardens is open for the season. Photo by Richard Amery
 “There’s a lot of opportunities to learn about Japanese Culture,” she said.

A partnership with the Mocha Cabana has spawned  a pair of popular picnic related activities.
“Yagai (outdoor picnics) have been really popular already. You can have a picnic in the Gardens,” Berdusco continued, noting all food is locally sourced.

“But we also have a smaller package called Zensai, which means appetizers on a charcuterie board for two people,” she continued, adding Covid restrictions have added challenges the staff have overcome.

“It’s been really tough. But it is easier for people to socially distance when we have a four acre garden.”

They offer a Nakama package for cohorts of up to 10 people to partake in activities like guided tours,  origami and an original Nino dance program.

“It is for people who really want to do a deep dive into Japanese culture.”

 They have partnered with Andrew Hilton for a gin tasting program beginning on June 19.

“We have a lot of juniper trees, so this is a great way to ‘taste‘ the gardens,” she said, adding conforming with Covid guidelines, this program is also limited to cohorts of up to 10 people.

 The Gardens welcome back The Lethbridge Shakespeare performance Society, for three presentations of their tenth anniversary production of a Midsummer Night’s Dream, July 3, 23 and Aug. 19.
“I can’t think of a better stage for Shakespeare than here,” she enthused.

“ It’s nice and quiet and there’s a lot of trees which block out background noise,” she said.
Aaron Roth returns to host yoga classes on Wednesday and Thursday evenings. In July classes expand to  Monday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings and morning classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays.


The Nikka Yuko Japanese Gardens’ new visitor's centre is on schedule. Photo by Richard Amery
 There are a couple tea programs available, a smaller tea program, Ochakai will take place on Thursdays featuring Fresh green tea and Japanese treats.
The formal tea ceremony, Nodate, is always a very popular attraction at the Nikka Yuko.
“It is very much choreographed,” she said.

 The Sumo and samurai programs have been limited due to Covid, but there will be a lot of opportunities to learn about the way of the Samurai, as Sumo and Samurai Sundays will feature streamed Sumo matches. Audience members won’t be able to don Sumo suits and try it for themselves this year due to Covid.

Anime Saturdays runs every Saturday for people interested in classic Japanese animation and your favourite anime characters.

 The new visitor’s centre is coming together on schedule.
“It will be open to the public Nov. 26  for the start of the winter lights festival. But we hope to offer a sneak preview in August,” she said.

“We’re very, very excited about this season,” she said.
 Guests must register for all programs in advance through the website or call the visitor’s centre at 403-328-3511.


— By Richard Amery, L.A. Beat Editor

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