A five-acre Japanese garden commissioned by Omaha's sister city of Shizuoka, Japan, in celebration of 30 years of cross-cultural exchange, the site has not yet been built. The Botanical Gardens are attempting to raise the $4 million necessary to construct it.
The central feature of the garden will be a one-acre pool. The site is on the floor of a valley which has very steep slopes. Streams, boulders and waterfalls will be installed on these steep slopes and re-circulate water from the main pool. Architectural features will include a Japanese cultural center, a traditional tea house, arbors, bridges and other garden features. These structures will be built by Japanese craftsmen using centuries old traditions and designs. Further enhancing the the garden is the recent gift of 24 carved stone lanterns. These beautiful works of art will be located throughout the garden. A gift of Mr. Yoichiro Suzuki and Mr. Tsutomu Asada of Shizuoka, these lanterns range in size from 2.5 feet to 11 feet tall and represent many different styles of lanterns. The ZEN Associates design was funded as a gift to the people of Omaha by Mr. Yuichi Kawai, a key figure in the Sister City relationship between Omaha and Shizuoka for many years.
A Pair of Stones
Two chunks of gray-green stone,
their shapes grotesque and unsightly,
wholly unfit for practical uses --
ordinary people despise them, leave them untouched.
Formed in the time of primal chaos,
they took their place at the mouth of Lake Taihu,
ten thousand ages resting by the lakeshore,
in one morning coming into my hands!
Pole-bearers have brought them to my prefectural office
where I wash and scrub away mud and stains.
The hollows are black, deeply scarred in mist,
crevices green with the rich hue of moss.
Aged dragons coiled to form their feet,
old swords stuck in for the crown,
I suddenly wonder if they didn't plummet from Heaven,
so different from anything in this human realm!
One will do to prop up my lute,
one to be a reservoir for my wine.
The tip of one shoots up several yards,
the other has a hollow, will hold a gallon of liquid!
My five-stringed instrument leaning on the left one,
my single wine cup set on the right,
I'll dip from the hollowed cask and it will never go dry,
though drunkenness long since has toppled me over.
Every person has something he loves,
and things all yearn for a companion.
More and more I fear that gatherings of the young
no longer will welcome a white-haired gentleman.
I turn my head, ask this pair of stones
if they'd consent to keep an old man company.
And though the stones are powerless to speak,
they agree that we three should be friends.