Every great city needs a little green; it needs lungs to purify the air and to allow us to relax. Buenos Aires has various places where we can go to disconnect, including the Tres de Febrero Park with its plazas, the Bosques de Palermo (Palermo Woods), los Lagos de Palermo (Palermo Lakes), the Planetarium and the Japanese Garden.
+ THE JAPANESE GARDEN: HARMONY AND BEAUTY
In 1967, to pay homage to the prince and princess (now Emperor and Empress) of Japan when they visited Buenos Aires, the Argentine-Japanese community transformed part of Tres de Febrero Park into a Japanese garden, turning it into a unique place, different from the rest of Buenos Aires. To the species that already existed in the park they added others native to Japan.
This site is an image of the culture, the architectural style and the landscapes of Japan. To visit it is to be transported to Japan: it is an immense garden with different trees and oriental plants, a greenhouse where you can buy the famous bonsais, a cultural center, a library and a large lake in the middle. You can also enjoy delicious Japanese cuisine in the restaurant-and those adventurous enough can even eat with chopsticks.
To walk through the park is to accept an invitation to relax, to distance oneself from the chaotic rhythm of the city. All is harmonious; nothing is out of place. This harmony exists because of the different elements that make up a Japanese garden: the water of its great lake, the fish that inhabit it, the bridges, rocks and typical vegetation.
The Cultural and Environmental Complex of the Japanese Garden has been declared a “Work of National Historical and Artistic Interest,” is administrated by the Argentine-Japanese Cultural Foundation, and is maintained with the funds it collects from entrance fees. The Foundation receives no external subsidies, and the entrance fee is inexpensive.
+ THE LEGEND OF THE CARP OR KOI
Numerous koi fish inhabit the central lake and visitors can buy small bags of fish food to feed them. The first koi were brought from Japan in 1967, in time for the inauguration of the park. These fish are colorful and lovely and it is great fun to throw food to them and watch them snap it up.
This species was chosen because of a legend: “In the Yellow River was a door and only the fish that could swim against the current and reach it would be converted into a Dragon. Several kinds of fish tried but only the koi succeeded in reaching the door.” From that time on, the carp is a symbol of fortitude and courage.
+ THE MEANING OF THE BRIDGES
The bridges of the Japanese are another distinctive feature. From the bridges, you can watch and feed the koi.
The bridges symbolize the passage from one world to another. Each one has a meaning: the zig-zag bridge is the bridge of decisions and the red curved bridge, the most beautiful, the one that goes to the island, represents the union of the human and the divine worlds. This island is the “Island of the Gods.” It is in the center of the park and offers the best view.
+ THE CULTURAL CENTER
Besides being able to stroll through a lovely park, you can also visit the Cultural Center. There you will find many activities that will help you understand the traditions of the Japanese people: origami, literature, bonsai, dance, recreational gymnastics, painting, and magna and anime festivals.
+ VISITING HOURS, ENTRANCE FEE AND HOW TO GET THERE
The Japanese Garden is located on Avenues Figueroa Alcorta and Casares, in Palermo. You can get there by bus: (10, 15, 37, 59, 60, 67, 93, 95, 102, 108, 118, 128, 130, 141, 160, and 180); if you take the subway or metro (Line D, Scalabrini Ortiz Station), it will leave you eight blocks away.
Entrance fees are around $4.00 US for adults. Seniors, retirees and children under 12 do not pay fees. The park is open every day from 10 AM to 6 PM.
+ WHERE TO STAY IN PALERMO
You have various options, depending upon your budget. If you prefer privacy, the best option is to rent an apartment. If you want direct contact with tourists, and want to share experiences as well as save money, your best choice is the Hostel in Palermo. A less economical option is a Bed & Breakfast.