The Foundation of a Japanese Garden: Boulder Placement Ceremony

For centuries, designers of Japanese gardens have placed special emphasis on boulders for their permanency. The solid and unchanging structure of boulders form the skeleton and foundation, and their selection and placement gives a sense of maturity to a new garden.

Selection of these boulders and rocks is important to the aesthetic and careful consideration of the qualities of each boulder is required. Our Japanese Garden’s Designer, Hoichi Kurisu, recently visited a West Michigan rock quarry and selected the individual boulders based on qualities necessary for a Japanese garden: size, weathered appearance, interesting shapes and subdued coloring.

These boulders were used to commemorate our own foundational beginning of The Richard and Helen DeVos Japanese Garden. Yesterday, we celebrated this permanency during a Boulder Placement Ceremony held for our members, donors and the public.

Boulder Ceremony in Grand Room.

Kicking off the Boulder Placement Ceremony, President and CEO David Hooker welcomed the crowd of more than 400 people and thanked all those who were there to celebrate the foundational beginning of the Japanese Garden. Hooker explained how more than 156 families, foundations and companies donated to the Japanese Garden campaign, helping Meijer Gardens meet and exceed the fundraising goal just six short months after announcing the new garden.

“The boulder placement is more than a ceremonial beginning of the Japanese Garden – it’s the foundation on which the garden will thrive for generations to come,” said Hooker. “We were given a great and significant gift that will be cherished and nurtured, not only by staff, but by the community and region.”

Consul General of Japan Kuninori Matsuda followed with remarks about promoting a mutual understanding of Japanese culture through the creation of this Japanese Garden.

“This garden has been received with much enthusiasm and I don’t have the slightest hesitation the Japanese Garden will become a ‘must-see’ once completed,” said Matsuda.

Following Matsuda was Japanese Garden Designer Hoichi Kurisu who spoke of his gratefulness to be a part of the project after meeting with Fred and Lena Meijer last year. A short film showcasing Kurisu and his team placing the first boulder of the Japanese Garden was shown (below) and Japanese poem titled, “Infinite Voice” was read by Kurisu.

“Good ground, good soil. Fred and Lena dropped the seed in the ground by the name of the Japanese Garden. That seed will grow from the good soil and we have to commit ourselves to nurture and share so the seed will grow,” said Kurisu.

Below is a gallery that includes images of the boulder placement with Hoichi Kurisu, presenters during the ceremony and behind-the-scenes of the construction site in its current state.

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The Japanese Garden is located in the northeast corner of the 132-acre property. Its design will convey the essence of the Japanese tradition—tranquility, simplicity and beauty —and include a variety of elements such as scenic bridges, waterfalls, a tea house, moss and bonsai gardens, among other features. The new garden will also feature works of contemporary sculpture by major international artists, such as Anish Kapoor and Zhang Huan, whose aesthetic forms will work in harmony with the space.

Nearly seven months ahead of schedule, view the garden’s progression during your next visit or look for photo updates on Facebook until the Japanese Garden’s completion in 2015.

Boulders and tree from Kurisu’s nursery place in the Japanese Garden.