Mayor of Vilnius Artūras Zuokas, along with Japanese park and public space designers Shiro and Yukihiro Nakane, unveiled their plan to build a new traditional Japanese garden in Vilnius
Mayor A. Zuokas explained to everyone at the reception that the sakura trees planted on the right bank of the Neris, which blossom every spring, “symbolize Vilnius’ multiculturalism, international cooperation. They are also one of the city’s most beautiful green spaces. Today, we begin yet another project of cooperation and cultural dialogue. We’ve agreed on plans for a Japanese garden to be built in the New City Center, which will become one of the city’s greatest attractions.”
At the project’s presentation, Japan’s ambassador to Lithuania Kazuko Shiraishi thanked the Vilnius City Municipality for their support of the project. “I’ve visited the Japanese gardens at Vilnius University and in Žemaitija. They are good places for people to enjoy Japanese culture and beautiful Japanese gardens. The sakuras at Sugihara park and the Asian art center in Užupis are examples of the relationship between Japan, Lithuania and Vilnius. I hope that this presentation will improve the relationship between Vilnius, Japan and Lithuania,” she said.
Petras Ignotas, chairman of the board at UAB “Tokvila,” presented some of the more detailed aspects of the project. The park is expected to receive roughly 200,000 visitors a year. It would create at least 15 new jobs. The park may cost up to between 10-12 mil. LT., but both P. Ignotas and Mayor A. Zuokas said that they will try to fund the park with private funds if possible, without tapping the city budget. P. Ignotas has already begun gathering investors that will help cover the park’s cost.
Those who wish to support the park will also be able to „buy“ a tree for the park, which will then have their name displayed next to it. S. Nakane said that the park could easily accommodate 500 visitors a day, but that it could take as many as 1,000 or 1,500 during a festival or other event. Organizers hope to finish the park in three years, but the park’s plans have not been finalized so setting an exact date for completion is impossible.
Artūras Blotnys, director of the city development department, presented projects that had been planned in the neighborhood around the park. Some of the planned projects would seek to form a chain of green spaces that pedestrians could follow from the bank of the Neris to the park. A. Blotnys also presented various investment and development projects in the New City Center that have the potential to influence the Japanese garden project.
The proposed park will be built in a 2,5 hectare space at the intersection of Geležinis Vilkas and Lvov streets. The park will feature a small lake in its center, which already exists at the park. The new Japanese park will also feature a waterfall, traditional Japanese tea houses, and event spaces. The designer, S. Nakane, said he hopes that the park “will have an exchange of Lithuanian and Japanese culture, events, art, business and pleasure.”
To conclude the event, Mayor A. Zuokas, P. Ignotas, President of the Lithuanian bonsai studio “Sensei” Kęstutis Ptakauskas, and “Vilnius Parks” director Alvidas Raškauskas signed a cooperative agreement to move the park‘s Project forward.