In honor of Morikami’s 40th anniversary, its history in photos
DELRAY BEACH — The quiet Japanese gardens and museum tucked just west of Delray Beach will celebrate its 40th anniversary this month.
To mark the occasion, the Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens plans to bury a time capsule on Monday, June 26 during a private ceremony. It hasn’t yet revealed what slice of history will be placed inside the capsule and buried beneath the popular garden’s surface, but there are plenty of options.
In honor of the anniversary, take a look at some photos snapped and collected by The Palm Beach Post over the years, and dive into the history of this staple Palm Beach County museum.
May 19, 1973 – George S. Morikami in his Volkswagen van: Delray Beach, Florida. Morikami donated the land that later became the Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens. (Courtesy of Morikami Museum)
Ever wonder where the name “Yamato Road” in Boca Raton came from? The Yamato Colony was a small community of Japanese farmers that settled in present day north Boca in the early 1900s.
The south Palm Beach County pineapple farming community led to the creation of the Japanese-inspired oasis we know now as Morikami Museum.
In the mid-1970s, one of the last remaining settlers, George Sukeji Morikami, donated his land to Palm Beach County with the hope that it would be used to preserve the memory of the Yamato Colony, according to the museum.
6/13/2002—–DELRAY BEACH—-The James & Hazel Gates Woodruff (cq) Memorial Bridge which is the entrance to the Japanese Gardens at the Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens, Thursday, morning. The museum building, the Yamato-kan, can be seen in the background. (Palm Beach Post staff photo by Bob Shanley)
The museum was opened in 1977 in a building named the Yamato-kan, modeled after a traditional Japanese villa.
The museum has since grown into two museum buildings with a surrounding 16 acres of gardens for strolling space, a bonsai collection and wildlife.
The Morikami Museum is now a popular destination for events such as weddings and school field trips. And its festivals have grown to draw crowds of thousands to the venue each year.
The most popular festival: The annual Lantern Festival — which honors Obon, a Japanese Buddhist celebration of ancestors. Tickets to the event sold out within 12 hours last year.
The museum was paid a historic visit by two first ladies earlier this year: U.S. First Lady Melania Trump and Akie Abe, wife of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. In 2003, Ryozo Kato, then Japan’s Ambassador to the United States, also paid a visit to the museum.
For more information about the history of the Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens, visit the museum or its website.
8/8/1974 — George S. Morikami is shown in his pineapple field in Delray Beach. Morikami was born in 1886 and died in 1976. (Photo courtesy: Florida Photographic Collection)
3/7/2003—-DELRAY BEACH—-Ryozo Kato Japan’s Ambassador to the United States stops to pay his respect at the Morikami Memorial, the traditional gravestone (right) for George Sukeji Morikami, donor of Morikami Park and a marker (left) memorializing Jo Sakai and Mitsusaburo Oki, founders of the Yamato Colony, Friday while touring the Roji-En gardens at the Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens. (Palm Beach Post staff photo by Bob Shanley)
08/18/2001 — Delray Beach – The Chitose Kai dancers (consisting of members of the Japan America Society of South Florida and Orange Kai) perform a Bon Odori (Bon Dance) during the Obon festival in Delray beach. The now 39-year-old festival is now called the Lantern Festival, marked by lit lanterns floated on the waters at the museum. (Palm Beach Post staff photo by Shannon O’Brien)
8/15/98 — Delray Beach — Fireworks explode over Morikami Japanese Gardens pond while lanterns lighting the way for spirits to get home float. (Palm Beach Post photograph by Mark Mirko)
2/11/2017 — First Lady Melania Trump (left) and Akie Abe (right), wife of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, stroll in the gardens at Morikami Museum west of Delray Beach. (Palm Beach Post photo by Michael Ares)
1/3/98 — Toshie Nutter (center) turns the rice as Tom Gregerson and his father John Gregerson use traditional wooden mallets to pound rice to make rice cakes (mochi) during the Morikami Museum’s annual oshogatsu New Year Celebrations. Pounding rice and making mochi is a traditional Japanese New Year activity. (Palm Beach Post staff Photo by Lannis Waters)
1/3/98 — Griffin Barnett, 10, of Lake Worth, plays Fukuwarai , a Japanese version of pin-the-tail-on-the donkey, during the Morikami Museum’s annual oshogatsu New Year Celebrations. (Palm Beach Post staff photo by Lannis Waters)