My husband Bill and I live in the Puna District of Hawaii County. In the county seat, Hilo, we are fortunate enough to have a large public park of the pond and stroll variety adjacent to Hilo Bay. Land for the garden — dedicated to Queen Lili`uokalani — was set aside in April 1917 and construction began in November of that year.
I have a deep and abiding love for Japanese gardens and visit them every chance I get. After 10 years of watching me do this in my spare time, Bill got on the bandwagon with his brand new Nikon D3x. He has a love for trains.
In May 2012, my husband Bill and I received an invitation to our eldest granddaughter’s high school graduation outside of Atlanta, Georgia. Always seeking to “make our moves count,” we began to talk about what else we could do in the mainland United States. This “epic journey,” as one of our friends calls it, is the result.
Our combined desires evolved into not only a way to celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary but also a way to be of service to the North American Japanese Garden Association, the Japanese Gardening Forum and jgarden.org for which organizations we gathered information and photographs. All of this information also is of great benefit to Hilo’s jewel of a garden, Lili`uokalani Gardens, which will celebrate a centennial in 2017.
At the end of our first railway adventure, we began planning the next. In October 2012 we traveled to Denver for the North American Japanese Garden Association conference “Connections.” Along the way we visited gardens in San Diego, Albuquerque, Phoenix and Los Angeles.
With a family wedding in September 2013, we planned another trip — this time to the East Coast. We visited Boston, Connecticut, New York, Philadelphia and worked the itinerary to be at Shofuso in time for the NAJGA Regional Conference. We continued to Delaware, Washington DC and Richmond, Virginia.
In September of 2014, I journeyed to Paris and London with our son and daughter-in-law to celebrate their first wedding anniversary and to visit gardens in both cities.
A month later, I traveled to the midwest to visit family and to attend the NAJGA conference in Chicago. The Japanese garden under construction in Grand Rapids, Michigan was on the list plus a work day at Garden of the Phoenix in Chicago.
Spring of 2015 found me in Kobe, Hiroshima and Kyoto enjoying the cherry blossoms.
Also in 2015 were visits to Seattle, Calgary, Lethbridge, Vancouver and Victoria, Portland, Washington DC, Chicago, Los Angeles and San Diego with more train travel.
In 2016, a trip to Japan is planned in October for accession ceremonies for the new monshu at Nishi Hongwanji in Kyoto with other cities to be seen.