Lethbridge residents and Nikka Yuko supporters alike will soon be able to enjoy and benefit from the unique cultural centre being constructed at the garden, named the Nikka Yuko Bunka Centre. The Lethbridge and District Japanese Garden Society presented the official name to the Cultural and Social Standing Policy Committee today and spoke to the Society’s plans to honour the many visionaries whose dedication is reflected throughout the garden. The Committee has formally approved the name and will forward their recommendations to be approved at a future City Council meeting.
Bunka, pronounced boon-kah, means culture in Japanese. As the garden is known as the “Gem of the South” the Nikka Yuko Bunka Centre will engage the community and guests with cultural experiences and programs offered by the Society. The Bunka Centre will also provide space for the community to celebrate and gather for their own cultural purposes, events, and activities. The Centre will be a hub for Henderson Lake users as a year-round place to enjoy, whether they are grabbing a coffee or tea from the café or relaxing with friends and family. In total, the facility will include two dedicated exhibit spaces, a café, and rentable spaces for meetings and community events, the largest with a capacity of 100 people.
Nikka Yuko Japanese Garden’s founders will be honoured in the new Bunka Centre through exhibits and spaces dedicated in their names. These include Cleo’s Café (named after Cleo Mowers), the Kawamura Room (named after both Reverend Yutetsu and Yoneko Kawamura), Dr. Hironaka Room (named after Dr. Bob Hironaka), Dr. Kubo Room (named after Dr. Tadashi Kubo), and the Dr. Sugimoto Commons (named after Dr. Masami Sugimoto).
The Society Board has been working for the past six years to develop this facility that, like the garden, will represent and reflect the community that nurtures it. The Bunka Centre was approved in 2017 as part of the City’s 2018-2027 Capital Improvement Project and is projected to be completed by the end of the summer with the possibility of sneak peaks for the community throughout the fall. The Bunka Centre will officially open to the public at the start of the 2021 Winter Light Festival.
The staff members at Nikka Yuko Japanese Garden are currently preparing the garden for another summer season and will open once again to the public on May 13, 2021. Nikka Yuko continues to monitor and closely follow all COVID-19 restrictions and regulations by requiring guests to purchase timed tickets in order to ensure a maximum capacity of 100 guests inside the garden at one time. A one-way pathway through the garden remains from the previous winter and summer seasons, and guests are asked to limit their groups to a maximum cohort of 10 to comply with Alberta Health Services and Alberta government regulations.