A Japanese Zen garden on the lower level of the G building is being built by the Japanese National Honor Society and will be finished by February 2.
“Zen gardens are an art that sort of mimic the ocean,” said Japanese National Honors Society President YeRin You. “So the rocks in the zen garden are supposed to represent the water. That is why we rake the rocks, to make the waves of the ocean. We also put things like little stones for islands.”
The garden is currently being built next to the Japanese classroom. Some of the key features are rocks, a bridge and bamboo edging.
“Each aspect of the Zen garden is a metaphor for enlightenment, so the bridge is the journey through life,” JNHS Vice President Rianne Lynn said. “If there is a lantern, that is enlightenment and if there are any big rocks that is supposed to represent Buddha, stability or strength.”
You, Lynn and the rest of JNHS decided to build the garden after receiving a $1000 grant from the Japanese Business Association.
Although the idea for the garden was originally to add “something nice” for the Japanese classroom. You says it also adds to the campus as a whole.
“Anyone can come and visit it and they can just spend their time relaxing or just even looking at it,” You said
So far, the garden already has bamboo fencing. Although the project construction has been put on hold until Jan. 29, You said the Zen garden will be finished by Feb. 2.
“The rocks for the garden will be delivered on Jan. 29. We need the rocks to come before we continue any other parts,” You said.
According to Japanese teacher and JNHS adviser Sato Umabe, the project to be done by Feb. 2, barring unforseen delays, so they can show students who will visit from Japan from Feb. 2 to Feb. 9.
“By then, we want to finish it so we can show [the Japanese exchange students] the finished, beautiful product,” You said.
Lynn says the Zen garden is special because it is different from everything else on campus.
“It will add a more cultural aspect to the campus,” Lynn said.
Principal Rob Coppo says he loves student-motivated projects like this one.
“I think, number one, it is going to add beauty. Hopefully, it will add a sense of pride for the students who put it together,” Coppo said. “I think it will also add another layer to our wellness philosophy by creating a safe, comfortable space for our students. Zen gardens help with wellness and clearing the mind.”
Building the Zen garden is not all that the JNHS will do in the coming months. After building the garden, You said there are many other activities in which they may take part.
“We might have tea ceremonies and moon viewing festivals for example,” You said.
You said as long as everyone respects what is in the garden, it will be a nice addition to the campus.
Parts of the Japanese Zen garden have already been placed inside the bamboo fencing where the garden will be located next to the Japanese classroom.