Healing Garden designer speaks at Lebanon convention

Kurisu sits next to Lebanon’s Joli Root, who chaired the event and arranged for Kurisu to speak.

Hoichi Kurisu was the keynote speaker at the Oregon State Federation of Garden Clubs state convention June 12 at Boulder Falls event center.

Kurisu, the architect for the healing gardens at Samaritan Lebanon Community Hospital and Boulder Falls Inn, spoke how the evolution of Japanese gardens have changed in response to the needs of the people from era to era.

While people may envision a true Japanese garden as one that includes sandstone or a waterfall or a bridge, Kurisu set out to learn that a Japanese garden is one which has a deep connection to human need, he said.

He recalled growing up in Japan before and after the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. He said it was a very peaceful time in Japan before the war.

“The time was such a happy time. We’d go to garden and gather the chestnuts and wild pears. Just no barrier with nature and ourselves.”

After the war, the economic landscape drastically changed and Kurisu moved to the United States. As he built gardens for institutions, he began to believe in the relationship between a Japanese garden and peace within a human.

He saw suicidal and drug-addicted youth make a connection in his gardens, and heard of terminally ill patients find peace and healing at SLCH. Today he is working with inmates at the state prison to design and build their own healing garden.