I am native South Floridian, born and raised, and let me tell you…we sure do have some beautiful sights to see here! In that vain, I am dedicating this South Florida spotlight to an absolute must see if you are visiting the West Palm Beach area, Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens. I got to visit this for about the 10th time recently when my good friend and travel soul sister Jenn came visiting on a work layover.
First, a little history for you. The Morikami Museum is built on acres of land, with a main building that houses the museum itself, and then a gorgeous lake and historic garden area. This may not be widely known to you, but at the turn of the 20th century there was a large population of Japanese immigrants in South Florida. Morikami was built as a celebration of the Japanese culture and the Yamato colony. In 1903 Jo Sakai, a Japanese immigrant who had recently graduated from college at New York University, came down to South Florida with dreams of establishing Japanese colonies to help boost agriculture in the area. At the time South Florida was nothing but swamp lands and brush. They cultivated pineapple, sugar cane, mulberry bushes and even made attempts to raise silk works. The colony diminished during the real estate boom, as the state wanted the land, but you still have Morikami and Yamato Rd. commemorating their contributions to South Florida settlement. To read more about the Yamato colony, check out the Boca Raton Historical Society.
As you drive in, you will notice the expansive grounds, pass by the wedding facility (yes, many dream of having their wedding there, myself included), and arrive at the main building, with many beautiful large manicured bonsai.
Inside there is a great museum dedicated to Japanese art, culture and history…but why really go to Morikami? For the gardens! You will immediately be drawn outside, so let me warn you that summertime in Florida is not the ideal time to visit! LOL…come January through March if you can, as they are about the only tolerable months here…but I digress. Take a look at the introductory video inside the theater. It’s only a few minutes and will give you a good idea about the Yamato colony and what Morikami is all about. Then head out the double doors into absolute tranquility.
Make you way across the bridge and you may just catch a glimpse of some of the koi fish, turtles, iguanas and yes…even alligators.
This “little” guy came out to say hello! The picture doesn’t even do justice to how huge he was! Take your time walking the path, which will lead you through the bamboo garden (you can hear it clacking in the win).
Be sure to catch the rock gardens.
There is a great pagoda style house in the middle of the path which has some hands on activities for kids, and information about Japanese homes and a buddah statue.
As you finish along the path you will pass by this gorgeous waterfall and koi pond.
Inside, there is still the museum to see, so you aren’t done yet! Current exhibitions include unique Japanese paper cuts and bamboo basket weaving. Be sure to end your visit with a tea in the cafe. There are many special programs, like the Lantern Festival in October, education programs, family fun days and cultural demonstrations.
I never miss a chance to take my friends and visitors here! If you find yourself in sunny South Florida looking for something to do, this is great fun for all.
Buen viajes, gnomies!
Ever visited the Morikami? Let the gnome know what you thought!