Kariya Park Mississauga
Kariya Park is a unique Japanese themed park located in the heart of the Square One City Centre area of Mississauga.
This gem of an urban park was jointly designed by Canadian and Japanese planners from Mississauga’s sister city of Kariya, Japan.
This park is different from many of the other public parks in the city. Mississauga is blessed with a wide array of parks of all shapes and sizes.
Some are wilderness areas, some have beaches, and some have elaborate sports and children’s play areas.
But Kariya Park is unique. It’s the only one that has a fully fenced area of several ponds, a waterfall, bridges, a pavilion, walkways, and extensive gardens including cherry blossoms, all designed in a way that highlights the Japanese values of harmony and balance.
What is extra amazing is the location of the park. This is an urban park, located in the heart of an area that is jammed with commercial businesses and highrise condominiums.
Square One Shopping Centre, the largest shopping mall in Ontario, is pretty much directly across the street. Burnhamthorpe Road West, which is major thoroughfare with six lanes of traffic, lies between the park and the mall.
You would not expect to find an oasis of serenity in such a location.
Somehow, Kariya Park manages to shut out the noise and hustle of the city, and once you are inside the park, there is a feeling of peacefulness.
Before Kariya Park was built, Mississauga and city of Kariya, Japan established a “sister city” relationship in 1981. That relationship grew throughout the years.
Kariya, Aichi, Japan is located near Nagoya. It is a medium sized industrial city with a population of about 153,000. Kariya is closely associated with the Toyota Automotive Group.
Kariya Park officially opened in July, 1992, celebrating the 11th year anniversary of the twin-city relationship between Mississauga and Kariya.
Its design was a collaboration between Canadian and Japanese planners.
Where is Kariya Park?
Kariya Park is in the heart of Mississauga, about a half hour drive from downtown Toronto.
Municipal address for Kariya Park is 3620 Kariya Dr, Mississauga, Ontario, Canada L5B 3J2.
It is located directly south of the Square One Shopping Centre. The nearest main intersection is Burnhamthorpe Road W. and Hurontario St.
The park is easily reachable by car, and by public transit. There are plenty of buses on Burnhamthorpe Road W., including express buses from the Kipling Subway station in Toronto.
The new Hurontario LRT, when it opens in 2024, will have a stop within a couple of minutes walk from the park entrance.
The nearest GO Train station is Cooksville.
Reviews of the park are positive, currently ranking 4.5 out of 5 on Google.
Inside Kariya Park
Kariya Park is open year round, although the best times to visit are definitely in the spring, summer, and fall.
The park is fully surrounded by an intricate bamboo fence. Entrance steps lead to an opening which ushers you inside.
There is a circular gravel path that leads you either left or right. You will be surrounded by nature on all sides, and the vibe is definitely peaceful. One part of the park is designated as a Zen garden.
During the warmer months you will get to admire the beauty of the Japanese gardens. There are a lot of trees and flowers of Japanese origin that are scattered throughout.
These include Japanese maple trees, ginkgo biloba trees, redbud, sweetgum trees, peonies, and forsythias. The park’s entrance is lined with beautiful blue and purple Japanese rabbit-ear irises, which also profilerate near the shoreline of the pond.
You will also find cherry trees in Kariya Park, and they bloom in the month of May. Cherry blossom time is perhaps the most popular time to visit (see below).
Pavilion and Friendship Bell
The main structural feature of the park is the Pavilion, a Japanese-style wooden building with two sections. One section represents Mississauga, and the other, Kariya. Right in the middle, you will find a large bronze bell called the Friendship Bell.
The Friendship Bell was cast in Japan and donated by Kariya City in 2001 to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the twin city relationship.
This handsome bronze bell is a symbol of friendship between the two cities. There are a lot of interesting markings on the bell, including maple leaves, iris flowers, and city symbols of both Kariya and Mississauga..
An inscription on the bell reads: “By welcoming the new century this bell is produced as a symbol of everlasting friendship between the City of Mississauga and the City of Kariya”.
Large Pond and Bridge
Directly in front of the Pavilion is a large pond with a wooden bridge crossing over it. Here you will find lots of wildlife and wildfowl, everything from ducks and geese, to koi fish and turtles.
South Pond and Woodland
In this area, you will see water cascading down the rocks into a small pond surrounded by many large trees. You can continue walking down the path into a shady, wooded area which is incredibly green with woodland plants and ferns.
This is a great place to go for a walk, relax, and experience the beautiful Japanese gardens around you.
Statue of Friendship
The Statue of Friendship is a stone sculpture of a boy and a girl sitting together affectionately, with smiles on their faces. This one will definitely make you smile too.
Mando Matsuri Japanese Festival
Near the front entrance of the park, there is a large piece of artwork to commemorate the 20th anniversary of friendship between the two cities. On the artwork there is a photo collage of over 6000 people from Mississauga and Kariya.
When you look at the collage from further away, the photos come together to create a single image of a large paper lantern (“mando“). The image represents a local Japanese festival in Kariya, called Mando Matsuri.
Mando Matsuri is a Japanese festival that has been celebrated every year for more than 200 years by residents of Kariya, Japan. It’s an important cultural event for them.
The “Mando” are large, colourful, paper lanterns that come in fantastic shapes. The lanterns can be in the shape of people, and often depict kabuki and war themes. There is a parade, and then the mando lanterns are released and they go floating across the summer sky.
There are many Japanese festivals, and they occur all across the country, not just in Tokyo.
The Mando Matsuri Japanese Festival takes place in Kariya City every July.
Where to See Cherry Blossoms in Mississauga
Cherry blossom time is when the park is at its most beautiful. Every spring, in late April or early May, the cherry trees will bloom in an explosion of pink. There are over 65 cherry trees in Kariya Park.
Timing is tricky, because the blooms (“sakura”) only last for a week or so.
An early spring can mean early cherry blossoms, but usually they are at their peak around the second week of May. It pays to check ahead.
Many cherry blossom aficionados will tell you that the experience here is superior to the one in High Park, Toronto, due to the smaller crowds and easier access to the gardens.
Mississauga Park in Kariya Japan
It’s interesting to see photos of Mississauga Park, the corresponding sister park in Kariya, Japan.
Check out the Mississauga Friendship Association website. The park there has a definite Canadian theme, perhaps a bit kitschy, but it includes items like a maple leaf structure, a log cabin, a scaled model of the Mississauga Civic Centre, and a sculpture of a bear riding in a canoe. I guess this is how the world sees us.
Plan Your Visit to Kariya Park
Kariya Park is open daily from 7:00am to 9:00pm (or until dusk in winter).
There is metered parking on Kariya Drive. You can also park for free at the Square One Shopping Centre, about a five minute walk away.
The walkways in the park are not cleared of snow in the winter months, so access may be limited during those times.
In the warmer months, the park is extremely popular for wedding photos, and a permit is required for these.
And dog owners please note, dogs are not permitted in the park.
Entrance to the park is free.
categories: kariya park, mississauga, cherry blossom, japanese festivals, japan, sister city, tokyo, japanese garden, friendship bell, toronto, ontario, canada