Nikka YukoNikka Yuko Japanese Garden

Nikka Yuko
Bucket List
Authentic Design
Japanese garden
Tea Ceremonies
Traditional practice
Art Exhibits
Local artists
Daily Tours
Guided insights
Cultural Performances
Dancing & Drumming
Craft Lessons
Hands-on activities


Nikka Yuko Japanese Garden is a vibrant cultural hub offering a variety of activities and experiences for visitors. Established during Canada’s Centennial in 1967, this garden was created to honor the contributions of citizens of Japanese ancestry to the multicultural community of Lethbridge, Alberta, and to symbolize international friendship. 

About the Garden

Nikka Yuko Japanese Garden is an authentic representation of Japanese garden design, seamlessly blending southern Alberta’s mountain and prairie scenery with traditional Japanese elements. The garden was the vision of Reverend Yutetsu Kawamura, his wife Yoneko, and Cleo Mowers, publisher of the Lethbridge Herald. With support from Kurt Steiner, the city tourism manager, and the local community, their dream became a reality.

The garden's design philosophy emphasizes harmony with nature, using abstract and artistic symbolism to create an intriguing landscape. Every element, from the meticulously maintained plants to the carefully chosen stones, contributes to the garden’s tranquil beauty.

Garden Features and Activities

Visitors to Nikka Yuko Japanese Garden can enjoy a variety of features and activities designed to immerse them in Japanese culture and natural beauty.

  • Traditional Tea Ceremonies and Moonlight Viewings: One of the garden's highlights is the traditional tea ceremony, offering visitors a chance to experience the elegance and tranquility of this ancient practice. Moonlight viewings provide a unique opportunity to stroll through the garden under the soft glow of the moon, enhancing the serene atmosphere.
  • Local Art Exhibits: The garden serves as a venue for local artists to display their work, adding a layer of cultural engagement for visitors. These exhibits often feature pieces inspired by the garden's beauty and the rich cultural heritage it represents.
  • Anime Saturdays and Sumo Sundays: Anime enthusiasts can gather for Anime Saturdays, while those interested in traditional Japanese sports can enjoy Sumo Sundays. These events celebrate both modern and traditional aspects of Japanese culture.
  • Daily Public Tours:  Daily guided tours offer an in-depth look at the garden’s design, history, and cultural elements. Knowledgeable guides provide fascinating insights that enhance the visitor experience.
  • Cultural Performances: Visitors can enjoy performances of Minyo dancing and Taiko drumming, showcasing the rich traditions of Japanese performing arts. These performances bring the garden to life and provide a deeper understanding of Japanese culture.
  • Craft and Calligraphy Lessons: Engage in hands-on activities such as origami, Japanese crafts, and calligraphy lessons. These sessions, often led by experts like Rev. Izumi Sensei, offer a fun and educational way to experience Japanese arts.

The Bunka Centre

The newly opened Bunka Centre, named after the Japanese word for culture, expands the garden's offerings with additional spaces and programs.

  • Cleo’s Café: Cleo’s Café is a perfect spot to relax and enjoy locally produced foods and drinks. Visitors can savor tea, hot chocolate, coffee, and cookies while admiring beautiful artwork by Hinode. The café's patio provides a serene setting overlooking the garden.
  • Memory Capture Booth: The Memory Capture Booth is a collaboration with the Nikkei Memory Capture Project, allowing visitors to learn about the experiences of Japanese Canadians. The interactive memory booth and Time Map wall display detail the journey of Japanese Canadians in southern Alberta.
  • Dr. Hironaka Garden Exhibition: The Dr. Robert Hironaka Exhibit Room features unique cultural artifacts and documentaries about the garden’s history and development. Visitors can explore the rich history of Nikka Yuko through these engaging exhibits.
  • Gift Shop: The gift shop offers a variety of unique souvenirs, including postcards, calendars, chopsticks, lunch kits, books, fans, and socks. It’s the perfect place to find a memento of your visit or a gift for someone special.

Group and Private Tours

Nikka Yuko Japanese Garden offers tailored group tours for 10-50 people, providing a unique and educational experience for all ages. Group tours include admission and a 45-minute guided tour, with optional cultural activities like origami lessons and Minyo dance. These tours are ideal for school groups, corporate outings, and family gatherings.

Weddings and Private Rentals

Nikka Yuko Japanese Garden is a picturesque venue for weddings and private events. The garden offers several packages to suit different needs, making it an ideal location for ceremonies and receptions. The Bunka Centre is available for private rentals, making it an excellent venue for receptions, staff meetings, and retreats. The centre's modern space with large windows overlooking the garden is perfect for presentations, dinners, and networking events.

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Nikka Yuko Japanese Garden
Nikka Yuko Japanese Garden
835 Mayor Magrath Dr S
Lethbridge, T1K 0C6
Nikka Yuko Japanese Garden
Nikka Yuko Japanese Garden
835 Mayor Magrath Dr S
Lethbridge, T1K 0C6
Open Hours
09:00 AM -06:00 PM
09:00 AM -06:00 PM
09:00 AM -06:00 PM
09:00 AM -06:00 PM
09:00 AM -06:00 PM

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