By 1946 over 500 Japanese had died in Australia. This number included those who died in the breakout of August 1944.
The Japanese who died in attempting to escape were buried in a plot next to the Australian War Cemetery in Cowra.
The war ended and the RSL (Returned and Services League) of Australia would keep the Australian War Cemetery neat and tidy, and as time went on, they also kept the Japanese cemetery clean and tidy.
In the 1950’s the Australian government and the Japanese government became concerned about the Japanese graves.
The Japanese government in 1955 began to collect information about their dead in Australia and considered the possibility of repatriation of the dead back to Japan.
In 1959 it was decided that a Japanese official cemetery should be created and all the Japanese dead in Australia (there were Japanese buried in Darwin) be interned in one location.
In 1962 Cowra was suggested as the location for the Japanese cemetery. The people of Cowra responded in a positive way to the suggestion and the land next to the Australian War Cemetery in Cowra was chosen.
The Japanese Government was given a perpetual lease for this land by the Australian Government.
After all Japanese dead within Australia were transferred to the new cemetery it was officerly opened on the 22nd November 1964.
The design of the cemetery was the work of Shigeru Yura, a Japanese architect who taught at Melbourne University. Check the above photographs for his work.
Each August there is a ceremony held at the Japanese Cemetery – the graves are marked with a plaque that details the life of the interned – name, date of birth, date of death and any other information known about the deceased.
In 1971 Cowra Tourism Development came up with the idea of a Japanese Garden to celebrate the link between the town and Japan. The Japanese Government agreed to support this idea because it was a way that they could show their appreciation for the respectful treatment of their dead.
In 1979 The Cowra Japanese Garden and Cultural Centre opened, and the location of the gardens is the site of where the Japanese PoW camp was located, and where the Breakout took place.
The garden is five hectares (12.5 acres) and is the largest Japanese garden in the southern hemisphere. It is a ‘must’ to see.
The ducks were not frightened and would walk towards us as if they knew we had food for them . . unfortunately we didn’t.
We could walk the three kilometres or just under two miles of paths or we could walk on the grass, the garden is a strolling garden for use, not just for photographing.
Bamboo tipping tube – it fills with water and when a certain weight is reached it tips the water out. I think it is called a Shishi Odoshi or deer scarer.
Shishi Odoshi – deer scarer
Just a few of the many photographs that I took during our walk.
and of course Japanese fish in the lake.
The gardens are magnificent, and so relaxing, with places to sit and just admire the view, wherever you looked.
and a display of bonsai plants – the above from 1987
This was planted in 1977
We meandered through the cultural area
The day was a beautiful day with clear blue sky and a warm sun, without being too hot, it was a perfect day for viewing the gardens. We saw a few gardeners working around the garden, they would never be out of work.
The Cowra Japanese garden is a copy of the original garden built by the first Shogun (Tokugawa Ieyasu) who ruled in 1600.
His castle was in Edo, which in 1868 had a name change to become Tokyo.
The Cowra Japanese garden was designed by Ken Nakajima, a Japanese garden architect, who received the Order of the Rising Sun from Emperor Hirohito in 1986 for promoting Japanese culture worldwide.
Mr Nakajima died in 2000 and his company has passed to his son.
The garden has six elements of design – mountain, rocks, mountain waterfalls, mountain lakes, rivers turning into oceans and pine trees.
The gardens can be used for weddings, private functions, birthdays etc.