Just up the street from the Tucson Botanical Gardens are the Yume Japanese Gardens of Tucson. Because Hank had visited Japan many years ago, and I had an personal interest from martial arts study, each time we drove by the Yume Gardens one of us would say, “We have to go there sometime.”

Then I read about the Spring Ikebana Festival and 10th Anniversary celebration which started late February and went through March 5. The window of opportunity was closing. Our “sometime” came on March 3. “Let’s go.” An unimposing building along Alvernon is the screen behind which we found this gem.

What a treat! But not like trick-or-treat or treating yourself to another piece of cake. This treat is more like a gift acquired – a serene gift – starting with the charming associate who gave us our tickets and told us a little bit about the history of the gardens. We happened to be there on the exact date, March 3, of the Hinamatsuri festival


Also called Girls’ Day, Hinamatsuri is a religious holiday in Japan. Platforms covered with a red carpet–material are used to display a set of ornamental dolls representing the Emperor, Empress, attendants, and musicians in traditional court dress of the Heian period. The photo here does little justice to the experience of viewing the dolls at close range – delicate and detailed. 

Seated male and female dolls are displayed only for the festival which celebrates marriage and family. There is a rich history of the development of Hinamatsuri and current practice.  https://www.thespruceeats.com/hina-matsuri-2031037  


A poetic title for an exhibit. My only obi experience had been with my karate gi when I was in my 20’s. I remember the seriousness of making sure the obi was wrapped, looped, and tied the correct way. In Okinawan Isshinryu Karate our gis and obis were made of durable white cotton exchanged for yellow, green, purple, brown and black obis as we were promoted in rank. The Yume obis truly are “beauty in a knot”- embroidered tapestries with plants, animals, birds hung over large frames. The history and symbolism of each obi was posted alongside.   

There is also a gift shop and Ikebana collection inside. Touring inside is just the beginning.



Strolling along the pathways took us to the various gardens- stone, gravel, grass, and ponds. “Each garden is a place to be at one with nature and with one’s self.” Benches are along the pathways for sitting and viewing the scenes. Whether from a bench inside a structure or looking out through a circular opening, each garden revealed the promise of the next piece of peace.











The Ikebana Festival is over but the gardens are open. Go. Walk. Sit. Enjoy!

Along with Agua Caliente and Ft. Lowell Park, Tucson offers some wonderful hidden gems. Yume is one of them.


Ethel Lee-Miller blogs regularly about people, the power of words, and her writing life. She’s retired from professional writing gigs after 30 years of teaching, coaching, editing, and gathering writers to publicly share their work. She is the author of Thinking of Miller Place, and Seedlings, Stories of Relationships. These days, she writes to inspire, to connect with folks, and for the pure enjoyment of it. Ethel enjoys sharing stories at Odyssey Storytelling, Artists Standing Strong Together, and anywhere there’s a mic or a Zoom room.