The Japanese Garden for Reflection and Contemplation was built in the mid-1980s into a wooded slope below the Presidentís House overlooking Paradise Pond. Locally collected rocks were arranged around the tea hut to symbolize seven events in the life of Buddha. The stones themselves have deep meaning: they are millions of years old and have a hidden inner strength.
The Japanese garden was proposed in November 1984 by Jill Ker Conway, then president of Smith College. She officiated at the ground-breaking ceremony held on May 4, 1985. The garden was designed by David Slawson, who apprenticed with Nakane Kinsaku, the famous Kyoto landscape artist. Construction took place in June and July of 1986 with the help of the ground crew, carpenters, masons, and painters from the Smith College Physical Plant Department (William Johansen, director) and Botanic Garden (Richard Munson, director). Also contributing to the project were Taitetsu Unno, chair of the garden committee, Marylin Rhie, chair of East Asian studies, and Marilyn Shields, landscape architect. The plantings around the Japanese garden were renewed in spring 1998 in connection with a student Special Studies in Landscape project by Nicole Davignon AC.
In the distance,
Neither flowers nor maple leaves
Are to be see
Only a thatched hut beside the bay
In autumn's twilight.
Hana mo momiji mo
Ura no tomaya no
Aki no yugure.