Japanese Garden MFA Boston-20Peace. That elusive feeling we are all desperately searching for. The hectic lifestyle most of us lead, with constant pressure, deadlines, and non-stop connectivity to remind us of what we have yet to achieve, can make finding any semblance of that peace feel like a distant dream. Yet, peace is the only word I can use to adequately describe the feeling I got right when I stepped through the wooden gates of the aptly named Tenshin-en (Garden of the Heart of Heaven), in the busy city of Boston, MA. Part of the Museum of Fine Arts, the garden was closed for renovations for 18 months, but reopened this April featuring a brand new gate, designed by a renown garden master from Kyoto Japan. The traditional gate opens up to reveal a meticulously designed garden that is evocative of the style used in Zen Temples.With white gravel, carefully raked around rocks and other small patches that resemble islands, one really does get the impression that you are looking at a vast landscape, with calming waters surrounding the shores. The design was inspired by the New England landscape, with its mountains and shores, and a breathtaking natural beauty.
A surprising variety of plants and flowers bring pleasant dashes of color to the landscape, making a nice contrast to Evergreen trees and the perfectly arranged large rocks that make up the different individual sections or “islands”.

 Tenshin-en also features several traditional stone lanterns, or Tōrō which were originally used in temples, but later become popular in gardens throughout Japan. Inscribed in stone, as well as into the wooden gate that guards the garden are the characters that make up the garden’s name Tenshin-en (Garden of the Heart of Heaven). The name is in honor of a longtime curator of Japanese art.

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Japanese Garden MFA Boston
Leaving the garden was truly difficult, but other wonders of Japanese culture were waiting inside the museum. In addition to their fabulous permanent collection of Asian and Japanese art, they recently had a fantastic exhibit of the work by famous Japanese artist Hokusai, which I wrote about here, but which unfortunately has already ended. The Japanese Garden on the other hand, is a welcome permanent fixture to the Museum of Fine Arts, and it is a place you can visit anytime you are in search of a little peace in the city, provided it is within Museum hours. For more information on Tenshin-en or the MFA and its exhibits visit their website.
What is your favorite garden in the city? Please share suggestions on other places I should visit!
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Written by Karina -mylettersoftransit.com

9 Comments

Karina -mylettersoftransit.com

Thank you so much for stopping by, glad to have helped you discover a new place. Remember that the MFA is free after 4pm every Weds. and stays open until past 9:30pm so you’re in the area definitely check it out. As a Boston resident you can also get discounted passes at your local Library.

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Murielle Marie

Karina this is such a lovely post and what a discovery!! I’ll keep it in mind next time I’m in Boston, Portland or Montreal :) And I’ll look around for others too. Thanks for sharing!

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Karina -mylettersoftransit.com

Well if you’re ever in Boston I suggest stopping by this one. The Botanical Garden in Montreal also has a fantastic Zen Garden, and there is another in Portland, Oregon , so if you pass by one of those places maybe it’s worth at least a quick stop. Something about them really does feel zen.

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