Smile Politely

The gardens around Japan House are a beautiful place to visit any time of year

A sunrise and bright blue sky over the Japan House building. There is snow on the ground and a roof and the trees are bare.
Louise Knight-Gibson

Japan House and the surrounding gardens are a true gem in Champaign-Urbana. You can celebrate at the Matsuri Festival, see the Sakura trees at the Spring Open House, or even cry in your car. Another way I enjoy this garden is to go on walks in the winter. There’s something about the lovely walkways, the lake, and the variety of plants that distract from the freezing temperature and the fact that I’m wearing 42 layers. The website points out that “instead of bright color and symmetry, these gardens focus on green foliage and natural shapes of plants. The design of the gardens creates an extraordinarily peaceful and tranquil environment.” And honestly it does.

The south entrance to Japan House. A curving cement path going through a park. Ahead is a forested area The sky is blue, and there is snow just visible on the ground on a carpet of fallen tree debris. .
Louise Knight-Gibson

Everyone has their own way of walking the paths, I prefer the south parking lot entrance to get to the park, go through the pine trees, step out in front of the lake, then I turn right towards the willow tree near the water.

a path between two pine trees on either side.
Louise Knight-Gibson
A curving cement path going around a frozen lake  Ahead is a forested area The sky is blue, and there is snow just visible on the ground.
Louise Knight-Gibson

My favorite part of the gardens are the lovely little areas that seem to be made for relaxing in nature. The little island with the giant sycamore trees, the bridge over the pond full of turtles and coy fish, and the path with swirls of rocks make the cold weather not seem so bad.

A curving cement path going through a park. Ahead is a forested area The sun is shining, sky is blue, and there is snow just visible on the ground on a carpet of fallen tree debris. .
Louise Knight-Gibson
A small peninsula into a lake. four towering sycamore trees stand in the middle above all the other trees around. They are set against a blue background.
Louise Knight-Gibson

There are many books and articles out in the world (and on our site too) about the idea of embracing all seasons and one of those ways is to get out into the weather, no matter what season it is. So if you need a place to encourage you, this might be the one, it is for me.

A curved sidewalk, inlaid with rocks and a raked wave pattern.. On the left edge are brown leaves and a dusting of white snow.
Louise Knight-Gibson
A curving cement path going through a park. Ahead is a forested area The sky is blue, and there is snow just visible on the ground on a carpet of fallen tree debris. .
Louise Knight-Gibson
Three giant trees tower above a forested area with the sun shining behind them and illuminating the remaining needles on the branches in a warm light.
Louise Knight-Gibson
Looking through a forested area with a curving path going through it. The sun is rising, the sky is blue, and there is snow just visible on the ground on a carpet of fallen tree debris. .
Louise Knight-Gibson
Looking through a forested area The sun is rising, the sky is blue, and there is snow just visible on the ground.
Louise Knight-Gibson

Culture Editor

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