Six secrets of Adelaide Himeji Garden

Cultural Heart Our Wellbeing

Did you know a perfectly manicured little ‘pocket of Japan’ sits inside Adelaide’s southern Park Lands? 

Built to commemorate the Japanese city of Himeji, which became one of Adelaide’s sister cities in 1982 – the garden on show in this little oasis today was the work of Japanese landscape designer Yoshitaka Kumada and many talented volunteers.

Balancing the grandeur of the ornate gates and gently rippling lake, are a host of delightful details – and we’ve uncovered a few to make your next visit even more memorable.

The stepping stones around the garden aren’t just beautiful, they have been carefully designed to make the time spent here mindful and valuable. Yoshitaka Kumada shared this secret about the Tobiishi stones, with The Adelaide Review.

1. Tricky stones

The serene lake is home to more than water lilies and ducks. There’s a bubbling world of goldfish, medaka fish, yabbies and long-necked tortoises beneath the surface. If you’re in the garden in spring, you’ll likely see groups of fluffy ducklings patiently waiting for their parents to return.

    You may hear a ‘clack’ sound among the symphony of the birds and breeze through the leaves. Its source can be found near the Zen garden in the form of a bamboo tube filling with water. Originally developed by farmers as a means of scaring off deer, the Shishi-odoshi fills with water until horizontal and then empties causing one end to hit a rock with a ‘clack’.

    “They’re designed so that an adult person takes two shorter than normal steps on each stone to avoid the gaps, it’s a psychological trick to slow you down and make you take your time.”

    You may have seen this tree before, but at a much smaller scale. The Black Pine, (Pinus thunbergii) is a classic bonsai subject and one of Japan’s most important trees. Often seen expertly sculpted in gardens of all sizes, the branches are also used in New Year decorations in Japan. Ornaments of bamboo and pine, Kadomatsu, are placed at doorways and welcome the gods who brings good fortune.

        2. Life aquatic

        There are several features throughout the garden which show the sister city bond between Adelaide and Himeji. The granite lantern, Okunoin, by the entryway was a gift from the City of Himeji and the inscription reads:

        You may not see water in the garden’s rockiest corner, but the rocks and raked sand, invite the viewer to imagine the vastness of the sea. Zen gardens like this are places of meditation and have been part of Japanese culture for thousands of years. This garden is raked several times a week by the City of Adelaide Horticulture team with specially designed rakes.

        Himeji garden lake

        3. Spooky sound

        Entry to the garden is free.
        Open from 8am, 7 days a week
        Located in the south Park Lands, corner of South Terrace and Glen Osmond Road in Peppermint Park / Wita Wirra (Park 18).

        Discover more ways to explore and experience our glorious Adelaide Park Lands.

        Himeji fountain

        4. Big bonsai

        5. Our sister

        “For the friendship of the two cities.”

        Himeji statue

        6. See the sea

        Himeji zen rocks

        Visiting the Adelaide Himeji Garden

        Article by

        Georgie Smith

        Georgie Smith

        Maker and curator of things

        Georgie has been BFFs with Adelaide her whole life. They’ve shared many special moments: over cheese platters at art exhibitions, cycling through the park lands and immersed in sequin-clad theatre shows.