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Visiting the Morikami Japanese Gardens and Museum in Delray Beach, Florida

Traveling has always been one of my passions. It exposes us to new cultures and experiences and makes the world a more tolerant place.

Morikami Japanese Gardens

Morikami Japanese Gardens

Located in Delray Beach, Florida, is a wonderful oasis of outdoor flora and fauna that is the Morikami Japanese Gardens and Museum. Opened in 1977, it is situated on land that at one time was the home of the former Yamato Colony.

Established in 1904, the Yamato Colony brought young Japanese farmers to this part of Florida in an effort to start an agricultural community with the mission of developing improved farming techniques.

Although the colony disbanded in the 1920s and most of its members returned to Japan, a few hardy souls remained, one of them being the namesake of the park—George Morikami.

Morikami stayed on in Florida and worked the land for the remainder of his life. By the mid-1970s, Morikami—who was now in his mid-80s—made the very generous decision to donate his property to Palm Beach County with the stipulation that the land be preserved as a park and historical monument to the Japanese farmers of the Yamato Colony.

The Yamato Colony

The Yamato Colony

Today, the Morikami Gardens offer visitors the opportunity to take a leisurely 1-mile walk through the beautiful grounds and gardens, all with a distinctive Japanese flavor. The park is in absolutely immaculate condition, and the scenery and wildlife here are stunning.

In addition to the beautiful ponds and the six authentic Japanese gardens, there is the usual assortment of wildlife that can be found in this part of Florida. On my recent visit, I saw several species of water birds, ducks, turtles and a couple of the largest iguana’s I have ever seen. You may also see armadillos, alligators, and the elusive bobcat.

There is also a world-class bonsai collection in the park (located near the old original museum building) that I found very interesting. I never knew there were so many different kinds of bonsai trees.

Plenty of spots to sit and relax

Plenty of spots to sit and relax

The walk around the lake offers visitors many opportunities to sit and relax while taking in the views with well-placed benches. The easy-to-follow path is well marked and has water stations located every few hundred meters. This is a great place to unwind with a good book or to just sit and watch the turtles and other wildlife. It’s also a great place to clear one’s mind or to do some good old fashioned thinking and reflecting on life.

Before you head out on the path be sure to grab a map inside the visitor center. The map will explain the various gardens for you as you traverse your way around the lake. The map assumes you will be going in a counter-clockwise direction but you are free to go in whatever direction you want.

The walk should take you about an hour or so depending on how many breaks you take and how much time you spend at each garden. There should be no rush, as this is certainly one of the most beautiful and serene garden settings in this corner of Florida.

Morikami Japanese Gardens

Morikami Japanese Gardens

Hotei - Japanese God of Hapiness

Hotei - Japanese God of Hapiness

As you circle around the lake, one of the last stations you come to will be the original museum building, which is situated on Yamato Island. You’ll know you have reached this point when you come to the giant Hotei statue that is located just in front of the bridge that takes you to Yamato Island. In case you're wondering, Hotei is the resident Japanese God of Happiness.

As you cross the bridge, you will come to a large patio that surrounds the outside of the old museum. This is where the bonsai collection is located. It is quite extensive and worth a look. Inside the original museum building are a couple of permanent exhibits that give visitors a glimpse of Japan through a child’s eyes and some of the history of the Yamato Colony.

Bonsai garden

Bonsai garden

While on Yamato island, be sure to look for the giant iguanas. I was fortunate to come across two of these beautiful and colorful creatures and one, in particular, had to be the largest iguana that I have ever seen. Check out the short video below for a glimpse.

Be sure to go around to the back of the old museum by the water’s edge, as this is where I spotted one of the iguanas. That's also where you'll find the Challenger Memorial Lantern dedicated to Ellison Onizuka, the Japanese American astronaut, and the six other astronauts who died in the Space Shuttle Challenger accident in 1986.

A very large and colorful iguana

A very large and colorful iguana

After walking the grounds, be sure to leave some time to visit the Morikami Museum, which contains exhibits and artwork from Japan’s past and present. The museum is a great place to learn about the culture and history of Japan and hosts a number of special exhibits throughout the year. Entry to the museum is included with your general admission ticket, so don’t leave without visiting the museum.

Challenger Memorial Lantern

Challenger Memorial Lantern

Visitor Information

If you happen to be visiting the Fort Lauderdale – West Palm Beach area of southeast Florida and need a break from the beach, consider heading to the Morikami Japanese Gardens and Museum. Morikami makes for a very relaxing way to spend a few hours and is conveniently located between Interstate 95 and the Florida Turnpike in Delray Beach.

Morikami is open Tuesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. They are closed on Monday’s. There is an admission fee for Morikami and adults 18+ will pay $14. For seniors, the fee is $13 and children ages 6–17 cost $9. Kids 5 and under are free. You can also become a member of Morikami for $60 ($40 for students), which entitles you to unlimited free admission to the gardens and museum plus other discounts and benefits.

Morikami Japanese Gardens

Morikami Japanese Gardens

Should you develop an appetite while visiting the gardens, there is the Cornell Café located on the grounds. This open-air café looks out over the gardens and lake and serves an assortment of Japanese and Asian cuisine. Although I did not stop for lunch, the menu looks reasonably priced and you couldn’t ask for a more beautiful setting for a quiet lunch.

Throughout the year, Morikami hosts a number of special events ranging from concerts to family workshops, cultural demonstrations, interpretative walks, and seminars. They also can accommodate weddings and the gardens certainly would make for a very special setting.

I hope you enjoyed this visit to the Morikami Gardens and Museum and found this helpful. Morikami is a wonderful destination and if you find yourself in the area, be sure to stop by and pay a visit.

Questions & Answers

Question: Wondering if there are any days when the admission fee is waived, like for seniors?

Answer: Not that I am aware of. Seniors do get a discount on the admission fee of $2.

© 2014 Bill De Giulio

Comments

Bill De Giulio (author) from Massachusetts on September 12, 2014:

Hi Jill. Thank you. Morikami is truly a hidden gem in southeast Florida. It was certainly worth the time and effort to visit and I will return next time I am in the area. Thanks for stopping by, have a great weekend.

jill of alltrades from Philippines on September 11, 2014:

You have truly captured the beauty of this place!

Bill De Giulio (author) from Massachusetts on July 04, 2014:

Hi Angela. My mother spent a few months last winter in Delray Beach and while visiting that is how I discovered Morikami. What a beautiful and tranquil place. I hope to return next winter. If you get an opportunity plan a visit, I think you might enjoy it. Thanks again, have a wonderful weekend.

Angela Joseph from Florida on July 04, 2014:

I live about an hour from Delray Beach and never heard of the Japanese gardens. Your description and pictures make me want to visit. I think I'll do that this summer. Voted up and beautiful.

Bill De Giulio (author) from Massachusetts on July 03, 2014:

Hi teaches12345. What a gem Moriakmi is. I look forward to returning next winter when I am down in that area. There is so much to see there that I'm sure I see something different also. Thanks again for stopping by and have a great weekend.

Dianna Mendez on July 03, 2014:

I have been to this beautiful garden a few times and each time I go I see something different. I hope to enjoy a cup of tea in the cafe next visit. Your post is excellent coverage of this garden.

Bill De Giulio (author) from Massachusetts on July 02, 2014:

Hi Glimmer. I was surprised as well. It's a beautiful and peaceful place. I still can't get over the size of the iguana there. A happy fourth to you also.

Claudia Mitchell on July 02, 2014:

Wow Bill - I had no idea about the Japanese gardening influence in Florida. This looks like an absolutely lovely place to visit. Right up my alley. Shared around. Hope you have a nice fourth.

Bill De Giulio (author) from Massachusetts on May 27, 2014:

Hi Thelma. If you love gardens I think you would love Morikami. Really a beautiful place. Thanks so much for stopping by and for commenting. Have a wonderful day.

Thelma Alberts from Germany and Philippines on May 27, 2014:

What a beautiful place to visit! I love visiting city gardens but I have not visited a Japanese garden, yet. Thanks for sharing this awesome hub. Well done!

Bill De Giulio (author) from Massachusetts on May 21, 2014:

Thank you Janis. It's a really beautiful and serene place and I look forward to returning. Thanks for stopping by, have a great day.

Janis from California on May 21, 2014:

This looks like such a beautiful place to visit. I really like your images.

Bill De Giulio (author) from Massachusetts on May 19, 2014:

Hi there Heidi. Thank you for the nice comments. Morikami was a very pleasant surprise and a beautiful place to spend a couple of hours. Thanks so much for the vote, etc. Have a great week.

Bill De Giulio (author) from Massachusetts on May 19, 2014:

Hi Linda. Thank you. It really was both beautiful and peaceful. If I lived there I would become a member so I could go there often. I had no idea that these giant iguanas were there so that was a pleasant surprise. Have a wonderful week.

Bill De Giulio (author) from Massachusetts on May 19, 2014:

Hi Mel. Thanks for stopping by. Neither was I initially. Now that I know it's there I'll certainly return. Have a great day.

Heidi Thorne from Chicago Area on May 19, 2014:

All I can say, like with most of your hubs, is wow! This garden looks like an amazing place. Voted up and beautiful!

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on May 18, 2014:

This looks like a lovely place to visit, Bill. I'd very much like to see the gardens and enjoy their beauty and peace. I love the photo of the iguana, too!

Mel Carriere from San Diego California on May 18, 2014:

I was unaware of the Japanese presence in Florida. Very informative hub!

Bill De Giulio (author) from Massachusetts on May 18, 2014:

Hi Flourish. Thank you. If you enjoy this type of thing Morimaki would make a great way to spend part of a day. I really enjoyed my visit there. I didn't know about the iguana being there so when I first stumbled upon them I thought they were statues. When they moved it actually startled me.

Thanks as always for stopping by. Have an enjoyable Sunday.

FlourishAnyway from USA on May 17, 2014:

I love this hub, Bill! I feel a Florida trip coming up in the next year or so, and I will definitely save this for other things besides Orlando attractions. I'm also pinning to my "Awesome Places I Want to Go" board. Great iguana photo, too!

Bill De Giulio (author) from Massachusetts on May 17, 2014:

Thanks Thelma. Isn't that funny how things work? I've lived here in New England most of my life and there are so many places I've never been to. Thanks for stopping by, glad you enjoyed the article.

Thelma Raker Coffone from Blue Ridge Mountains, USA on May 17, 2014:

I lived in Palm Beach County for 21 years before moving to the Blue Ridge mountains. I heard of the gardens but never visited them. You did a wonderful job on this article!

Bill De Giulio (author) from Massachusetts on May 17, 2014:

Hi Suzette. I had been to Delray Beach before also but did not discover Morikami until this past winter. What an amazing place. It was just so beautiful and serene, I could have stayed there all day. Now that I know it's there I'll definitely return next winter when I'm down in that area. Have a great weekend.

Suzette Walker from Taos, NM on May 17, 2014:

I have been to Delray Beach but never knew the gardens where there. This sounds like a lovely place to check out. Japanese gardens are so beautiful, serene and tranquil. I also think it is so wonderful there is a memorial to the Challenger and those who passed in the accident. Your photos are beautiful. Thanks so much for a tour of these lovely gardens and informing us of the history behind it.

Bill De Giulio (author) from Massachusetts on May 17, 2014:

Hi Randi. Thanks for stopping by, so glad you enjoyed the gardens. If your ever in that corner of Florida stop by for a visit. When a shot the video of the iguana I thought for a second that he was coming to check me out. I could not believe how big they were. Thanks again and have a nice weekend.

Bill De Giulio (author) from Massachusetts on May 17, 2014:

Thank you dis-cover. Glad you enjoyed the visit to Morikami. It's a beautiful place with a lot of history. Thanks so much for the vote, have a great weekend.

Randi Benlulu from Mesa, AZ on May 17, 2014:

Beautiful place! Thank you for this informative and interesting hub. Your description make me want to visit more. I loved your pics and video. Up++

Nikolic Predrag from Serbia, Belgrade on May 17, 2014:

I really enjoyed in your very descriptive hub. Voted up as interesting!

Bill De Giulio (author) from Massachusetts on May 17, 2014:

Hi Bill. I was very excited when I discovered this Japanese Garden in Delray Beach and the history of the place is fascinating. They certainly knew what they were doing when they planned this park. Have a great weekend.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on May 17, 2014:

You do get around, my friend. Beautiful pictures and quite interesting. There is something very peaceful about a Japanese garden. You don't suppose they plan it that way, do you? :) Have a great weekend.