Nikka Yuko Japanese Garden, Lethbridge

by - Monday, June 05, 2017

Nikka Yuko Japanese Garden is a peaceful oasis in the heart of Lethbridge. With its traditional design and authentic features, the manicured garden will temporarily transport you to Japan and captivate your senses. More than a garden, Nikka Yuko also serves as a hub of Japanese culture. I loved experiencing my grandparents' culture in such a beautiful environment.

Built 50 years ago to recognize contributions of Lethbridge's  citizens of Japanese ancestry, Nikka Yuko invites visitors to Experience the Friendship and celebrate Japanese culture. The garden's name is derived from Ni (short for 'Nihon': Japan) and Ka (short for 'Kanada': Canada), and the Japanese word for friendship ('Yuko'). It is indeed a friendly place. Cheerful staff, including mascot, Tomo, welcome you and ensure you have a wonderful experience.

My girls and Tomo, the Nikka Yuko Mascot
Weekends are the best time to visit the garden when the calendar is filled with special events. On our visit, we enjoyed yukata (summer kimono) dressing, outdoor tea ceremony (nodate), and an energetic taiko drumming performance. Other events include garden tours, origami lessons, Japanese calligraphy (shodo) demonstrations, kite making, and lantern decorating. 

Matcha tea (offered during Nodate - outdoor tea ceremony)
Taiko Drumming Performance
Garden tours, offered a few times a day (or by request during the week), are a great opportunity to learn about the garden's history and design. Discover the significance of garden features, why the island is shaped like a turtle, where the Friendship Bell was cast, and more. Be sure to ring the bell when you visit it! 

Nikka Yuko Japanese Garden
The Friendship Bell is HUGE!
The Teahouse is made in traditional Japanese style of yellow cypress without nails. It's rare to see this style of architecture outside Japan. Inside, tea ceremony demonstrations are held in beautiful tatami (woven straw mat) rooms with paper screens. You can also try on yukatas (cotton kimonos) and happi coats (men's traditional summer wear) here for a unique photo. Yukata dressing was the highlight of our visit!
Nikka Yuko Japanese Garden Teahouse
Trying on yukatas in the Teahouse
Yukata dressing at Nikka Yuko Japanese Garden
(parasols are our own)
Nikka Yuko's Japanese garden exceeded our expectations. The winding path allows a different view around each turn, and with all the events scheduled throughout the day (on weekends), you can easily spend a couple hours here.

Nikka Yuko Japanese Garden well

Know Before You Go

  • Nikka Yuko Japanese Garden is open from mid-May to early October. Check the website for hours.
  • Most events are held on the weekends, but there are some weekday events, and evening events. Check the Events Calendar for tour/event times. 
  • Allow at least 2 hours for your visit.
  • Food and drink are not permitted in the gardens (except during tea ceremony or morning coffee service), however snacks and drinks are sold at the Gift Shop.
  • A Family Season's Pass pays for itself in about 2 visits!
Nikka Yuko Japanese Garden

Getting There

Nikka Yuko Japanese Garden is conveniently located at 9th Avenue and Mayor Magrath Drive South in Lethbridge, about 2 hours south of Calgary. It was a perfect stopping spot en route to Writing on Stone Provincial Park!

Nikka Yuko Japanese Garden

For More Information

For hours, rates, and events, please visit Nikka Yuko Japanese Garden's website.

Nikka Yuko Japanese Garden


Nikka Yuko Japanese Garden generously hosted me and my family, but all words and opinions are my own.

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