I have just returned from a trip to Switzerland and came across a Japanese Garden of Friendship in the Swiss town of Interlaken. It is the first ever Japanese Garden in Switzerland and symbolizes the friendship (established in 1978) between the sister cities of Interlaken and Otsu in Japan.
This beautiful garden was created in 1995 by a landscape gardener from Otsu and represents traditional Japanese gardens, with plenty of water, flora, koi carp and is very peaceful. Although it is a relatively small garden, it’s a true oasis surrounded by the mountains.
It’s wonderful to see such inspired forms of friendship and cultural exchange – hopefully, we can see more of this in the world.
The Garden of Friendship stone plaque is described as follows:
Garden of Friendship
The Japanese Garden was built by the community of Interlaken together with the help of Otsu city.
Both communities have enjoyed Sister City status since October 1979. They have many things in common: mountains, lakes, fertile green surroundings. Even similar rocks can be found in both regions. Japanese plants also grow and thrive in gardens in both Sister Cities.
The traditional Japanese-style garden, handed down from the Nara era, which is called TSUKIYAMARINSENSHIKI. Since ancient times, Japanese have sought peace and tranquility in the landscape of their gardens.
In the Japanese Garden in Interlaken the waterfall boulders symbolize the impressive mountains of the Bernese Oberland. The SHINJI pond represents the Lakes of Brienz and Thun. Its islands show a cranc and a tortoise, which stands for “eternal youth” and “longevity” in Japan.
Otsu would like this garden to remind the residents of Interlaken of the region of Lake Biwa with its surrounding mountains. In this way Otsu also wishes to express its love of Nature.
In order to realize this garden, Landscape gardeners were specially sent from Otsu to Interlaken. Thus the building of the garden was made possible through joint effort and combined professional know-how. We wish to thank all those many helping hands.
We sincerely hope this garden will provide an oasis of relaxation and inner peace for residents and guests alike. It should stand as a symbol for the exchange of culture and friendship.
May everyone who enjoys some moments of peace in this garden realize the will towards the perpetuation of peace in the whole world.
Mayor of Interlaken
July 1995- Mayor of Interlaken
The Japanese version is here: