A Moment of Zen

The mission at Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens in Delray Beach is to engage a diverse audience by presenting Japanese cultural experiences that educate and inspire.

Did you know that there is a deep rooting of Japanese history in Palm Beach County? Since opening in 1977, the Morikami Museum has been a center for Japanese arts and culture in South Florida. With rotating exhibitions, tea ceremonies performed monthly (October through May) in the Seishin-an tea house, and educational outreach programs with local schools and organizations, Morikami strives to spread appreciation for the living culture of Japan.

The original building, named the Yamato-kan, is modeled after a Japanese villa. The Yamato-kan offers exhibits chronicling the history of the Yamato Colony, which was founded by a group of pioneering Japanese farmers in the early 1900s in what is now northern Boca Raton. Led by George Sukeji Morikami, one of the last remaining settlers, their vision was to cultivate a new home and establish an agricultural community in South Florida. Despite facing numerous challenges, their perseverance and dedication left an indelible mark on the region’s cultural landscape.

The principal museum building opened in 1993 to meet popular demand for more programming, more versatile facilities, and to satisfy the needs of a growing community. The museum’s architecture is inspired by traditional Japanese design. The building features three galleries, a 225-seat theater, an authentic tea house with a viewing gallery, classrooms, a museum store, the Cornell Cafe, and lakeside terraces for a panoramic view while dining.

In 2001, Morikami completed a major garden expansion and renovation. The new gardens reflect major periods of Japanese garden design, from the 8th to the 20th century, and serve as an outdoor extension of the museum. According to the garden designer, Hoichi Kurisu, each garden is intended to express the character and ideas of a unique counterpart in Japan without attempting to duplicate those gardens, and to have it seamlessly flow together as one garden.

The 16 acres that surround Morikami’s two museum buildings include expansive Japanese gardens with strolling paths, resting areas, a world-class bonsai collection, and lakes teeming with koi and other wildlife. The wider 200-acre park features nature trails, pine forests, and picnic areas.

Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens, with its unique gardens and collections, is one of Palm Beach County’s most treasured cultural attractions. Take a day and experience the culture of the far east without leaving the area.

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