Get swept away to Japan at the peaceful Morikami Gardens & Museum in Delray Beach.
Did you know South Florida holds a century-old connection with Japan? Tucked away in Delray Beach, the Morikami Museum & Gardens was once home to a colony of young Japanese farmers seeking to revolutionize Florida’s agricultural techniques. Nowadays, the enchanting 16-acre estate is home to hundreds of unique species of Japanese flora, winding paths, and carefully designed gardens that will make you feel you’ve been transported to Japan in one fell swoop!
Morikami’s story starts back in 1904, when Jo Sakai, a recent NYU grad, returned to his native town of Miyazu, Japan, to recruit a group of pioneering farmers with the aim of revolutionizing Florida’s agriculture. The group of young men settled down in what is now northern Boca Raton and founded the colony of Yamato (an ancient name for Japan). Unfortunately, the colony eventually failed, and in the 1920s the families left for other parts of the U.S. or went back to Japan.
It wasn’t until 1977 when Morikami opened as a center for Japanese arts and culture in South Florida. Nowadays the Morikami estate offers a number of rotating exhibitions, tea ceremonies performed monthly October through May educational outreach programs and celebrates several Japanese festivals throughout the year to help spread Japan’s vibrant culture.
In its museum, you’ll find thousands of Japanese art objects and artifacts such as ancient tea ceremony sets and textiles, all housed in a stunning Japanese Villa recounting the history of the Yamato colony.
The most enchanting part of Morikami is perhaps its sprawling 16 acres of Japanese gardens. The estate’s gardens recently got a glow up to reflect major periods of Japanese garden design and feature plenty of strolling paths, resting areas, a world-class collection of bonsais and lakes full with Koi that make for a totally magical stroll!
The gardens are even home to South Florida’s only cherry blossoms (yes, there are cherry blossoms in Florida!) which are usually in bloom in January and February due to our rather hot and tropical weather.
While many of Morikami’s events such as their Japanese festivals and their Sushi & Stroll nights in which you get to stroll around the gardens while delighting in incredible sushi remain canceled due to COVID-19, the Morikami Museum & Gardens still make for an enchanting day exploring the living culture of Japan, no plane tickets required!
[Featured image: Morikami Museum & Japanese Gardens]