About the Japanese Friendship Garden

Groundbreaking for the Japanese friendship garden at Clark College On April 22, 2010, a groundbreaking ceremony was held for the new Japanese friendship garden at Clark College.  Groundbreaking participants included (left to right): Vancouver Mayor Tim Leavitt, Clark College Board of Trustees Chair Addison Jacobs, Clark College President Robert K. Knight, Associated Students of Clark College (ASCC) President Ashley Schahfer, former Vancouver Mayor Royce Pollard, Executive Vice President of SEH America, Inc. Tatsuo Ito, and Parks Foundation Board President Henry Gerhard.

Clark College's 2010 Sakura Festival was a celebration of international friendship and two historic gifts -- the cherry trees that were planted at the college in 1990 and groundbreaking for a new Japanese friendship garden.

Dr. Chihiro Kanagawa, CEO of SEC (Shin-Etsu Chemical Co. Ltd.), the parent company of SEH America, extended an offer to establish a beautiful Japanese friendship garden in the city of Vancouver. The city honored Clark College by proposing that the garden be created on Clark's main campus.

Murase Associates was selected for the design and construction work.  The site selected for the garden is just east of Clark's music building, which honors artistry and beauty. The location also places the Royce E. Pollard Japanese Friendship Garden near the plaque which honors the 100 Shirofugen cherry trees which were given to the City of Vancouver in honor of the 100th anniversary of Washington's statehood. That gift was also entrusted to the college.

Clark College President Robert K. Knight noted, "Our predecessors had the vision to embrace the gift of those magnificent cherry trees, and we are all the beneficiaries of that legacy. We are gratified to have the chance to do the same for the generations that follow us."


Garden features


Natural features such as rivers, mountains and landforms are symbolically represented in this garden. The inspiration for the concepts derives from natural features of the Pacific Northwest landscape and allusions to philosophical and cultural ideas.


The winding pathway represents the meandering flow of the Columbia River through the Columbia Gorge. It is the defining pathway that connects all the spaces together. The sculpted earth berm modulates the topography of the landforms. The cherry trees follow the meandering pathway and are an extension of the cherries on the campus walk. They are symbolic of evanescence.


Stones are an integral element in the garden. The use of stones in a Japanese garden is a fundamental element that can be traced back to prehistoric times.


The granite water feature defines the south entry. It is auspicious to locate a water feature as a welcoming gesture from the south. The black granite is from India. The crescent stone walls are composed of Columbia River basalt.


The vertical grouping of stones composed of weathered columnar basalt is representative of the exposed basalt formations of the Columbia Gorge. It is a strong visual space and can be used for gatherings. The cut and polished benches provide seating. The donor’s name will be etched into the larger bench.

Enjoy our guide to the Japanese Friendship Garden.