By Ana Maria Reyes and Trevor Green
Set on 200 acres in south Palm Beach County, the Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens is filled with Japanese history and culture, especially the story of George Morikami and the ambitious Japanese farmers (pineapples were their specialty) who plowed these lands in the early 1900s.
You can learn about their story, and much more, when you go; Mr. Morikami donated this land to Palm Beach County in the 1970s in hopes of preserving its beauty as a park for all to enjoy.
Take a stroll through the gardens (family friendly for sure with paths fit for wheelchairs or baby strollers) and you'll see Japanese lanterns tucked amongst the floral and fauna; the bonsai garden overlooking the pond filled with turtles and koi; the bamboo grove that "sings" with the wind; and my favorite -- the shishi odoshi -- or deer chaser. We could spend an entire week in those gardens, just relaxing, meditating, and soaking in the sounds of nature.
The Cornell Cafe is the onsite restaurant that overlooks the lake and the gardens. It's been rated the Third Best Museum Food In The Nation by FoodNetwork and the title is well deserved. We feasted on dragon rolls, grouper in almond crust, noodle bowls, and udon noodles that were perfectly plump and tender.
Inside, tour the museum and see everything from Japanese artwork to kimonos. Fascinating -- and air conditioned for your comfort. There-s also a wonderful gift shop that is quite a mystery -- how can they possibly fit so many lovely things into not-that-big a space? Toys, jewelry, lanterns, clothing, candles, silks, ceramics, rainchains, windbells, noodle bowls, chop sticks, samurai swords...wow.
Morkami is known for its outstanding festivals and events. They had a Sado tea cermony on the day we visited. We learned the meaning of Chanoyu and witnessed its disciplined elegance -- and even drank in its splendor (slurping is highly encouraged as it shows good manners).
Festivals, cultural events, cuisine, gardens... this is and experience you won't soon forget.
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