The Japanese Garden is part of Japanese culture - a set of shared attitudes, values, goals and beliefs.  Here a few links on the varied cultural topics:

Here is a Wikipedia article on the culture of Japan
Japanese Cultural and Community Center of Washington - programs, language school, local events
Culture at Work - A nice collection of links covering culture, history, religion and more
 Japanese Lifestyle - many pages on different parts of Japanese culture
Festal at Seattle Center - here a Wikipedia article about Festal, and here Festal itself - every April Cherry Blossom Festival
Kids Web Japan - fun and informative virtual culture (sumo, origami, more), folk legends and games

I personally find language the most fascinating part of any culture - a window to how people speaking given language perceive the world: the proverbs they use are rooted in the world they live, onomatopoeia usage reflects how they 'hear' the world around them, and unique words created for situations occurring only in circumstances of those who speak certain language are the most intriguing creations of all (think of over 30 words for snow, if you live and survive in the world of ice and snow, like people speaking Inuit, Aivilik and Igloolik do)...

I do not know Japanese language, but love to read on how it works - here is a Fun Quiz about the words unique for Japanese language/culture; it's there that I discovered that Japanese word kokoro can be translated as 'mind', 'heart' or 'spirit' and encompasses all three!  I wish the English language had an equivalent for this;  here is kokoro explanation from the quiz answer:

In compound words (words made up of more than one kanji character) kokoro is often pronounced 'shin'. This is the shin in shinzo, which also means heart. But shinzo is the physical heart (prone to angina and heart disease) and kokoro is the spiritual and emotional heart (prone to being 'heavy', kind or even broken!).

A few of us asked a fellow guide, Keiko P. how to say 'Welcome to Japanese Garden' in Japanese.  Here is her response:

Yōkoso Nihon teien ni oide kudasai mashita

My favorite short version (not polite as above, but it conveys the spirit quite well) is
Nihon teien ni yōkoso

Below a few links on kanji and Japanese language in general:

• Basic info on Japanese writing system from The Kanji Site
• Learn Japanese from A Kanji a Day
• FAQ about Japanese Language from
• Learn Kanji from KanjiGame - fun game, you can learn by trial and error, chose your own level
• Article from Wikipedia on Japanese Language
• Article on history of Japanese Language - it's a language resource website, look around while there
• Here is a link to Seattle Public Library - Japanese Literature department

DOMO ARIGATO for checking in on this page.

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