Earlier this week I visited the Japanese Garden at Normandale Community College in Bloomington. The garden is only two acres in size, but there is plenty of room for quiet contemplation. It was designed by Tokyo-based garden architect Takao Watanabe and dedicated in 1976.

Visitors enter through a cedar gate and are greeted by the sound of a waterfall in the distance. The more than 300 trees in the garden require artful pruning to create an overall feeling for the landscape, and the lagoon is stocked with nearly 200 goldfish whose ancestors were brought to the garden from Loring Park Lake in Minneapolis. Two bridges cross the lagoon, one is a flat bridge, and the other is a zig-zag bridge designed so that evil spirits, who follow a straight line, cannot cross.

Three hand-carved granite lanterns from Japan also dot the landscape. The Bentendo (hexagon-shaped building) and drum-shaped bridge were constructed with funds donated by Military Intelligence Service Language School veterans who were stationed at Fort Snelling during World War II as a memorial to their time spent in Minnesota. The garden is a cozy alternative to the Charlotte Partridge Ordway Japanese Garden at Como Park and well worth a trip when your spirit needs renewal.