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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Opening day at Spokane’s Japanese garden attracts hundreds

UPDATED: Sun., April 1, 2018

Despite temperatures below 50 degrees, wind gusts and a slight drizzle, hundreds of people trekked to the Nishinomiya Tsutakawa Japanese Garden in Spokane’s Manito Park on Sunday for the seasonal reopening.

They walked slowly around the walkways, paused to admire the many koi swimming in the shimmering green water and marveled at the architecture designed by Nagao Sakurai, a famous landscape architect who was once in charge of Tokyo’s Imperial Palace grounds.

It was quiet, save for the winds howling above and cars driving by. No yelling, screaming or dogs barking. Just peace. Quiet, subdued peace – the type the garden’s creators likely had in mind.

“It really is beautiful,” remarked Jorge Gutierrez, who with his wife and three daughters paused in front of the pond and posed for one of many photos.

Gutierrez and his family had no idea the garden opened Sunday – they were on a sight-seeing tour of the city and happened to drop by. From Silverdale, Washington, they’d never visited Spokane before, but were glad they did.

“It’s nice for the girls,” Gutierrez said. “A nice, quiet place.”

Closed at the end of October each year, the garden has remained one of the city’s premiere attractions in popular Manito Park. In 2008, it was rededicated to include the names Tsutakawa and Nishinomiya, in honor of Spokane’s sister city in Japan and the man who made the connection possible, Ed Tsutakawa.

Other visitors Sunday lived nearby, but when they heard it was open for the season, popped by for a few minutes and took pictures.

“I just love the garden,” said Becca Thompson, who walked over from her South Hill home with her husband and dogs. While they waited outside – no dogs allowed, after all – she took a quick walk around.

“I really like seeing it all,” she said. “Taking it in.”

But it wasn’t all quiet reflection. Sisters Phaedra Ward and Brittanie James, both 27, were there to shake things up – at least for their young nieces.

In the garden’s gazebo, the two had Easter bags, snacks, juice and a clue. Soon, the pair of young girls would happen upon the festivities and enjoy an Easter party, with an April Fool’s Day twist in the form of a scavenger hunt.

Before long, the clue would lead them to the next, and the next, and the next – until eventually they made it to a family member’s house, where an egg hunt was ready to begin.

“It’ll be like, look at what the Easter Bunny set up for you guys,” Ward explained of the ploy. “Siwwy Wabbit.”

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