Seiwa-en, the Missouri Botanical Garden’s 14-acre Japanese Garden, is designed for discovery. Visitors who peer into secluded nooks will often be rewarded with unique views and other sensory delights.
The most secluded area of all sits at the center of the 4-acre Japanese Garden lake. Nakajima, Teahouse Island, is the largest of the four islands in Seiwa-en, and the only one accessible from the mainland by bridge.
The delicate, authentic teahouse at the center of the island is a gift from Nagano Prefecture, Missouri’s sister state in Japan. This soan, or “farm hut” style teahouse, was constructed in Nagano, Japan, according to traditional methods and was then dismantled, shipped to the United States, and reassembled at the Garden by Japanese craftsmen. A Shinto ceremony was held to dedicate the teahouse as part of the opening of the Japanese Garden in 1977.
Teahouse Island is typically closed to the public, but each year at the Garden’s Japanese Festival, a limited number of visitors may cross the dobashi (earthen bridge) at the entrance to the island and tour this mysterious paradise.
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