I read an article this spring about the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair. I knew that one of our regular haunts – the Museum of Science & Industry – was built for the World’s Fair and that the surrounding area housed pavilions from various countries. Those pavilions are long gone of course but a few things remain aside from the Museum, including Osaka Gardens. In the 1930s some of the Japanese structures from the World’s Fair were moved to the other end of this park and the garden was built/recreated from the World’s Fair. It fell into neglect and over the next 70-80 years experienced various bursts of activity, only to fall into neglect again.
In 2008 it was refurbished and as part of the Chicago-Osaka sister city partnership rededicated. It is now regularly maintained and, as we discovered, a beautiful oasis hidden on Wooded Island in Jackson Park. Honestly, if you didn’t know to look for it – you would never know it was there. We did see two small signs pointing the way as we walked behind the Museum to look for it. When we walked through the Japanese gate we came upon a small group of women on a guided tour. One of them looked at me, she was probably in her early 70s, and said “I was born and raised just a few miles from here and I never knew this even existed until today.”
I’m glad I read that article so that we could wander into this peaceful spot. I can’t wait to go back when the cherry trees surrounding the gardens are in bloom next spring. What a fun mini-adventure to add on to our day of learning & playing at the Museum.