On our last visit to Cowra we ran out of time to visit the Japanese Gardens. The gardens were always one of our favourite spots to visit when we lived in Cowra so we thought we should re-visit them this trip.
During the Second World War, there was a Prisoner of War Camp on the outskirts of the township. One night several hundred Japanese prisoners staged a breakout attempt from there. As a result, four Australian soldiers died along with 231 other prisoners. The Japanese POW’s were buried in Cowra, and in 1960 the Japanese Government decided to bring all it’s war dead from other parts of Australia and bury them together in Cowra. This was the beginning of the friendship between Cowra and Japan, which continues to this day.
The gardens first opened in 1979 and were completed with the opening of the second stage in 1986. Mr Ken Nakajima was the architect of the gardens. The gardens cover an area of 5 hectares (12.5 acres) and are designed to represent the entire landscape of Japan.
There are two large main ponds which are full of Japanese Koi (carp). They swarm to the banks of the ponds at the first sign of food, but almost have to push the ducks out of the road to get to the food. Some of the Koi that I saw were fantastically multi-coloured and about a foot long.
The gardens are beautifully maintained and just gorgeous to visit, no matter what time of the year it is. You get a real sense of peace and tranquility whilst you are there.
Attached to the gardens is the Cultural Centre which houses a display of both Japanese and Australian works of art. There are also several items of Japanese artifacts including Kimono’s and vases.
Once you have finished your tour of the gardens, make sure you stop by the coffee shop for lunch or morning or afternoon tea. I can highly recommend the Lemon and Lime Tart as being very tasty and home made!