By Jensen, Randy on June 10, 2020.
Social distancing, other restrictions to be in place to follow provincial, AHS guidelines
The Nikka Yuko Japanese Garden is ready to welcome guests despite a later start to the summer season.
While the majority of the lockdown restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic took place during the garden’s off-season, the Lethbridge & District Japanese Garden Society made the decision to open a month later than usual to ensure the tourist attraction complied with current restrictions made by the Alberta government and Alberta Health Services.
The garden will open to the public on Thursday, and while there may be a few new policies in place, Nikka Yuko aims to provide the same peace and serenity for all guests. Nikka Yuko will restrict guests to 50 visitors per hour in the garden and only 10 people in the Visitors Centre and 10 people in the tea pavilion at one time.
All guests are asked to respect social distancing protocols by maintaining a distance of two metres from other guests during their visit. The garden has also introduced new hours – opening Thursday to Monday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and closing to the public on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
The usual guided tours will not be offered at this time; however, all guests will receive a comprehensive self-guided brochure that outlines key information about the garden, its history, and the history of Japanese Canadians in southern Alberta. New signage around the garden will also provide additional information about the garden’s focal points and Nikka Yuko’s knowledgeable hosts and hostesses will still be available to answer questions or assist guests inside the garden. A new audio tour will be available on the Nikka Yuko website for tech-savvy guests to listen to as they stroll along the pathways.
“Although we cannot offer our guided tours during this first phase, we have added many new features that we hope will provide the same level of knowledge that our guests would typically receive while still allowing them to relax and enjoy the peace and quiet,” says Michelle Day, executive director of Nikka Yuko Japanese Garden, in a news release.
While many of the usual events and performances have been put on hold for the time being, the garden has developed new daily programming that focuses on a different topic of Japanese culture each day. Nikka Yuko will still offer their popular tea ceremony demonstrations; however, these will be limited to 10 guests per ceremony and tickets should be purchased in advance to guarantee a spot. Tea ceremony demonstrations will take place every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. and allow guests insight into the intricacies of the tea ceremony as well as sample hand-whisked matcha and Japanese sweets.
Once again, Nikka Yuko and the Canadian Yoga Institute are partnering to offer yoga classes inside the garden each week. Yoga will be offered on Tuesdays at 10 a.m. and Wednesdays at 6 p.m. in June. New this year is Therapy Yoga, designed to release tension and stress, and will be offered every Thursday at 5:30 p.m. throughout the summer.