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Visiting The Japanese Garden

Guide Prepared By Mr. Gary Greenberg

The stone lantern was made in 1652.  It was sent to us from Tokyo.  New York and Tokyo became sister cities in 1960.  We like to visit each other and share our cultures. Throughout this visit, let's try to think of things we like which we have in common with Japanese people.

The orange colored wooden structure is called a torii. It is a "Gateway to Heaven".  The Japanese characters written on it say "Great Illuminating Deity". A deity is a god.  Illuminating means giving light or knowledge.   Have you ever seen a religious picture with light surrounding a person (Halo)?  What does that tell us?  (The religious figure is a special person who can teach us and help us.)

Compare the torii to other symbolic religious structures you are familiar with: a church, a temple, a mosque.  What special shapes or symbols tell us that these are places of worship?  (Steeple, Cross, Star, Dome, Crescent)

The design of the Japanese Garden has many special things that symbolize or stand for something.  They represent the love of beauty and nature and also tell us about things we value in our lives.

The water is there to remind us of the flow of feelings and ideas from our minds and hearts.

The rocks represent reliability and dependability.  Why?  (They are permanent, hard and strong.)

The evergreen trees stand for longevity, or a long life.  Why?  (They never loose their leaves like other trees and stay green all the time.)  At which holiday do we use also use the evergreen tree because it stays green even in winter?  (Christmas) 

Behind the torii on the hill is a shrine to the Shinto god of the harvest, Inari, who Japanese people may pray to for a good harvest with plenty of food to eat.  How do we thank God for our food? (Say Grace at meals, celebrate Thanksgiving.)

In the greenhouse we can see miniature trees that the Japanese call Bonsai.  Do you also keep plants in your house so you can enjoy the beauty of nature indoors?
To help us remember our trip today, let's write a composition about all of the special things we've learned.  Describe what you saw.  Explain what it means.  Tell about ideas of beauty, nature, and religion that we have in common with Japanese people.  Give examples of similar things we like to see and do.  What did you enjoy most?  Why?  Use as many details as you can to tell about what you've learned from your trip today and you'll have a wonderful composition you can share with everyone.
To learn more about the Japanese Garden, you can visit the Brooklyn Botanic Garden web site:

Please read the following excerpts from reports written by Ms. Della Alston's 4th grade class and see pictures taken by students on their trip.

Our teachers, Mr. Greenberg and Ms. Alston, took my class to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden.  The field trip was designated for students to experience the richness of the Japanese Garden.  We saw many beautiful sights.  The trip was not only beautiful, it was educational.  I recognize that the designs in the Japanese Garden represent many things.  I especially liked some of the trees that are shaped in the form of clouds.  There is such a peaceful and calm feeling when walking through the Japanese Garden.

In the garden we saw a lantern.  The Japanese gathered around when they saw it lit.  They knew that when the lantern was lit something important was going on.

The stone lantern was made in 1652.  It was given to us after New York and Tokyo became sister cities in 1960.  I am looking forward to the visit from the Japanese person who will come to my classroom to share additional information about their culture.

The thing I liked the most was the shrine where the Japanese people worshiped.  It looked like a mini monastery.  Japanese and American people both believe in heaven.  The also both like the joy of flowers around them.

The Japanese and us have a lot in common.  We both have places to worship.  We have our own God who we worship.  Our place to worship is called a church.

The most beautiful thing that I saw in the garden was the waterfall.  We learned that the Japanese look at the water as thoughts flowing through the mind.  There were turtles on the rocks.  The rocks represent strength.

The Japanese people built many beautiful things.  The trip was enjoyable and fun.  The class learned a lot of information about the Japanese culture.  They do many things Americans don't do, but we also have many things in common.

The things I saw were amazing!  At the end of the trip we took a walk to the greenhouse to view the miniature trees.  The Japanese use special scissors to snip the roots and branches to keep them from growing normally.  We were fortunate to see cherry trees in bloom. The trees added to the beauty and peace in the garden.

The Japanese talk in a different tongue but we like similar things.  I want to ride in a Japanese car and eat their food.  I would like to go to Japan.