Anderson Gardens remains a top North American attraction

Waterfall at Anderson Japanese Gardens. (Photo by Jim Hagerty)
Waterfall at Anderson Japanese Gardens. (Photo by Jim Hagerty)

By Jim Hagerty
Staff Writer

Although a recent report that Anderson Japanese Gardens was North America’s highest-ranking Japanese Garden was incorrect, the garden is among the best.

According to a June 13 report, Sukiya Living magazine ranked Rockford’s Anderson Japanese Gardens the top facility in North America. The magazine article and the ranking were correct; however, according to Dave Anderson, the report was a decade old.

We were excited to have been honored as the best again,” Anderson joked. “We verified the rankings and the article, but we just didn’t verify the date. So, yeah, we’ve got a little egg on our face.”

With the error duly noted, The Rock River Times contacted Sukiya Living magazine for an updated ranking, a list the publication releases every four years. According to the current list, Anderson Japanese Gardens is No. 2 in North America, behind Portland Japanese Garden, in Portland, Ore. The ranking still marks the facility a true Rockford treasure, one that places the Forest City on the international map in terms of true cultural attractions. The gardens’ allure hardly happens by accident.

Pine tree care, for example, involves six to 10 hours of shaping and scaling so each tree can thrive in the 12 acres of tranquil Japanese landscape. Add in what goes into maintaining the 16th-century traditional architecture, winding walking paths, streams, waterfalls and koi-filled ponds, and you get, well, the No. 2-ranked Japanese garden in North America.

We work very hard to keep the garden in tip-top shape,” Anderson said. “Maintaining an authentic garden of this size is not an easy thing. And we know we have been between No. 1 and No. 2, right with Portland, but our goal isn’t really to be No. 1, we just try to be a high-quality Japanese garden people want to come to.”

And come to Anderson they do. As of 2014, the garden attracts around 40,000 visitors every year. Although 70 percent of visitors are from outside Rockford, the Japanese Summer Festival, Tuesday night concerts, yoga classes, cultural events and a premier wedding and special event center make Anderson Japenese Gardens a local gem.

Visit for more details. The complex is at 318 Spring Creek Road, Rockford. Anderson Japanese Gardens is a qualified 501(c)(3) organization.

From the June 18-24, 2014, issue

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