The Story of a Garden
With about 13.500 m2 the Japanese Garden Kaiserslautern has become the largest Japanese Garden in Europe and the first of this kind in Rhineland-Palatinate. Not only its size is noteworthy but also its genesis and unique atmosphere are impressive. Just ten years after the foundation of the "Japanese Garden Association Kaiserslautern" in 1997, an exotic garden paradise accessible to the public was designed right in the heart of Kaiserslautern’s city center and in close cooperation between municipal authorities and committed citizens. The garden project can therefore be marked as one of the first public-private-partnership cooperations in the field of landscape architecture in Germany.
19 April 2000
In April 2000 the Japanese Garden Kaiserslautern opened its gates for the first time, at the same time as the "State's Garden Exhibition Kaiserslautern 2000", the first garden exhibition in Rhineland-Palatinate. In only two years time a devastated and inaccessible urban green area was transformed into a garden paradise which is unique in terms of genesis, atmosphere and individuality. The idea of designing a Japanese Garden in Kaiserslautern was born during the visit of a delegation in Kaiserslautern's partner city Bunkyo-Ku in 1993. Three years later an adequate site could be identified as being predestined for the development of such a garden project. Situated in the very heart of the city, it was originally characterized by two villas built in the early 19th century, embedded into romantic landscape garden patterns, which were destroyed 1943 as a result of the bombings during the war. The historic stock of trees, 100 years old, very impressive witnesses of the romantic epoch, can still be admired in the park, designed in 1893 by the Siessmeyer brothers, famous landscape architects at that time from Frankfurt/ Main. After the war the former landscape and villa gardens remained untouched and unused for over 50 years and a dense woodland vegetation overgrew the grounds, a sleeping beauty waiting to be kissed by a prince.
The Japanese Garden Association
In April 1997 the "Japanese Garden Association Kaiserslautern" was founded. With this foundation the idea was born to build an authentic Japanese Garden on the selected site as well as to use it as a platform to foster Japanese culture. In the same year design alternatives for a Japanese Garden on the site were worked out in cooperation with the University of Kaiserslautern. Based on the results and ideas of these drafts, a landscape architectural conception for the garden was elaborated with altogether five planned phases of construction. The garden project was presented to the public by an exhibition in the "Volksbank Kaiserslautern" in 1998, leading to a rapid increase of members in the same year. The "Japanese Garden virus" spread vehemently and infected private persons as much as companies, institutions and political parties. Donations were given, work was offered, also material support in form of building machines, building materials and plants. The variety of ideas to support the garden project did not know any limits. Today the Association counts about 800 single members.
In August 2001 the second construction phase with about 6500 m2 was completed and presented to the public with great resonance. Altogether four waterfalls now enrich the garden with new spectacular views and individual, constantly changing sound effects.
The Development of the Garden
The years 2004 and 2005 can be characterized as the "building years" for the Japanese Garden. With the historic, 100-years-old Japanese tea house, erected at the head of the Upper Pond and the classical Zen Garden, important garden elements were added that for the first time completed the general picture of an authentic and traditional Japanese Garden.
The year 2006 was strongly affected by the World Football Championship, with Kaiserslautern as one of the host cities, the Japanese team taking part and the Japanese Garden as one of the theater stages for the celebrations. Due to the World Championship and thanks to football, a new barrier-free entrance at the "Abendsberg" with a red "tori-i" could be opened.
In 2007 the landscape architectural measures were completed after the last step in the planned garden scheme, a Mountain Garden "tsukiyama", was finished. This garden theme refers to the natural geography of Japan and with its designed rock ensembles evokes associations of mountain sceneries in Japan.
Growth and Change
Growth and change are the most relevant characteristics of any garden conception, based on the principals of nature, and we are confident that the Japanese Garden will continue its dynamic development in the next years. The next step will be a Japanese Cultural Center in the style of a "dojo", offering atmospheric and authentic training possibilities for the Japanese martial arts "budo". As a multi-functional building, it is also designed to host various cultural events like concerts, lectures, work shops and seminars throughout the whole year. The success story of the Japanese Garden is supposed to continue and you are invited to join in for the "live" experience.