[Bob Griffiths]

The place I love to go to in the garden is between the two deity rocks looking out over the mountain stream going down to the mountain lake, and then the river going down to the sea, and all the rolling hills in between, and then out beyond, over the tops of the pine trees, the beautiful view of the Cowra Lachlan Valley. When I go there I just sit and contemplate and just look. My name is Bob Griffiths. I’m the Chairman of the Cowra Japanese Garden and Cultural Centre. The Cowra Japanese Garden was an idea that was formed back in the very early 1970s, amongst a group of members of Cowra Tourism, led by Don Kibbler, and were really keen to try and do something to build on that special relationship we have with Japan.

[Don Kibbler]

My name is Don Kibbler. I have the distinguished Member of the Order of Australia and the Order of the Rising Sun. And I’m the Chairman of the Japanese Garden Foundation. I’ve been involved with the Japanese relationship about 45 years. Probably longer than anyone else living in Cowra today. When I was about 29, 30 years old, I was Chairman of the Cowra Tourism Corporation. We’d never seen a Japanese garden, any of us. We hadn’t met many Japanese even, then. So how do you go about it, and how do you get the local people to accept the idea. That was the hard part. So I found a lady in Sydney, a Mrs Shibaoka. We asked her to make a model of a Japanese garden, just to show people what a Japanese garden was all about. But I got her to make it fit in the back of an old station wagon I had, and people could see the model and thought, well this is a good idea. And I spoke to the Ambassador at the time, Mr Okawara, Toshio Okawara. And I still get a Christmas card from him and he’s 95, 96. Anyhow, Okawara san, he said to me one day, you know you’ve got to have a real top architect to do it well. Anyhow, he found three different ones and we chose Ken Nakajima.

[Bob Griffiths]

Ken has built gardens all around the world, Montreal, Moscow. But he said he would never ever build a better garden than the one at Cowra. And we believe him and we know it’s right because when he died in 2000, his family brought his ashes out here, and they’re in the garden at the base of Yogoseki, that big flat rock at the top of the hill. And he’s there looking out over his pride and joy. 

Producer/Sound Design: Masako Fukui

Music Credits: Tranquility by Kevin MacLeod ( CC by 3.0

Photo Credits: Photo 1: Japanese Garden & Cultural Centre; Photo by Mayu Kanamori

Photo 2: Don Kibbler, Chairman, Japanese Garden & Cultural Centre Foundation at the Japanese Garden, 2009; Photo by Mayu Kanamori

Photo 3: Landscape architect Ken Nakajima at the Japanese Garden, circa 1979; Japanese Garden & Cultural Centre





The Cowra Voices Audio Archive Project 2023

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