Territory and Municipal Services


Canberra Nara Park

Canberra Nara Peace Park is located within Lennox Gardens in Yarralumla. The park has a barbeque, drinking fountain and tables.

History

Developed within Lennox Gardens, Canberra-Nara Peace Park symbolises the close and growing friendship between Canberra and its sister city in Japan, Nara. The Park provides a complementary setting for the gift of two large stone lanterns - a large Kasuga lantern weighing five tonnes, and a large Yukimi lantern weighing three tonnes, as well as a polished granite menorial stone from the citizens of Nara, Japan's ancient capital to the citizens of Canberra, Australia's modern national capital. Design and construction was carried out by local designers and contractors who consulted closely with the city of Nara and the Embassy of Japan. The site was selected in April 1997 and celebrated with the visit to Canberra of a Nara delegation of 150 citizens lead by Mayor Ohkawa and former Mayor Nishida.

In addition to these gifts, the citizens of Nara also donated $100,000 towards the cost of constructing the Park. A time capsule containing the names of 10,000 Nara citizens who made donations has been placed and sealed beneath the Kasuga Lantern.

The Park is designed to create the feel of a traditional Japanese garden within the surrounds of a Canberra public park. A distinctive feature of Canberra-Nara Peace Park is its "borrowed landscape" or the extension of the Park's boundaries to encompass landmarks such as Lake Burley Griffin, Black Mountain, Mount Ainslie and Lotus Bay.

The planting scheme is mostly trees and groundcover plantings with the judicious siting of specimen shrubs. The trees include 24 cherry blossom trees, four Crepe Myrtles, ten Japanese Maples, and one Japanese Red Pine. Shrubs include Japanese Lily of the Valley, one of Japan's earliest spring bloomers which is still the commonest shrub grown in the city of Nara's parks because the deer will not nibble its leaves. Groundcovers used are Japanese Shore Juniper, Star Jasmine, and Dwarf Mondo Grass. Water plants planted within and adjacent to the dry watercourse are Japanese Water Iris. The climber species planted to grow over the Wisteria Pergola is Violacea Plena, the only Wisteria species with double flowers and which is said to have originated from the Kasuga Shrine in Nara.

The Canberra-Nara Peace Park was officially opened on 9 October 1999 by the ACT Chief Minister, Kate Carnell, the Deputy Mayor of Nara Mr Hiromu Kiriki, the Chariman of Nara's Legislative Assembly, Mr Kiyokazu Asakawa, His Excellency Mr Masaji Takahashi, Ambassador of the Embassy of Japan, and the Chairman of the Canberra-Nara Sister City Committee, Mr Brian Jones.

As a gift for the Park's official opening, the Nara delegation presented to the citizens of Canberra a sign for the Park's gate which is written in Japanese and reads, "The Canberra Nara Friendship Gate". The sign was hand written by the Mayor of Nara, Mr Yasunori Ohkawa.

The park was officially renamed to Canberra Nara Peace Park in 2010 and the occasion was marked by the commissioning of a major new art work by the Japanese sculptor Shinki Kato.

Shinki Kato's eight-metre-high pagoda, made of pre-rusted steel plates, references Nara's famous five-storey pagoda, erected in 725 by the Empress Komyoh. The artworks are located on the shores of Lake Burley Griffin, in Lennox Gardens.

The park is the site of the popular annual Canberra Nara Candle Festival, which is based on the Tokae festival held each summer in Nara. A highlight of the festival is the dusk lighting of 2,000 candles symbolising peace and friendship.

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