Finding Sanctuary: ‘Healing’ Yume Japanese Gardens reopens

BY Annika Tomlin

Yume Japanese Gardens has reopened, after being closed since March because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Gardens Executive Director Patricia Deridder says she thinks “most people still don’t know we are open.”

Running through November 15, the first fall/winter exhibit for the gardens is the Senbazuru Exhibition, also known as “1,000 Cranes, 1,000 Dreams.”

“During the confinement, we put the word out through Facebook and our members to make (paper origami) cranes, which is a traditional Japanese way of healing,” Deridder says.

“You make them to heal yourself or you make them for somebody that needs healing, and so I said, ‘Well, Tucson needs healing,’ so I thought it would be a fun thing to do with a child.”

Paper cranes were dropped off at the entrance to be made into mobiles and decorations scattered around the gardens. The exhibition draws on the Japanese tradition of Senbazuru, which holds that those who devote time and effort to make origami cranes see their most heartfelt wishes granted. Cranes will be flying from stone lanterns to stone water basins, perching on boulders and flocking on bamboo gates and fences.

“We were able to gather 2,000 of them,” Deridder says. “Actually, 1,000 of them were done by a young lady who’s waiting to go to university, and while she was studying online she just made the cranes.

“As you know, during this time of year, there is absolutely no flowers and so it just makes the garden a little happy.”

When the exhibit concludes, Deridder hopes to auction the mobiles that offered “a little bit of peace and healing for Tucson.”

Deridder asks that people buy tickets through the online ticket portal to help regulate the number of people in the gardens at one time. Garden members can use a separate link to get a ticket without paying.

“There is a special place for them on the website, so we make sure there are no more than 10 or 15 people at one time in the gardens within an hour,” Deridder says.

The museum is closed because it’s too small to maintain social distancing. In the garden, 6 feet of social distancing is required. The gift shop is open by appointment only.

“We do require masks inside and out,” Deridder says. “Now if there is only one person in the garden, I’m not going to go after them, but as a general rule we do require masks.”

From November 12 to November 14, guests can enjoy Evenings at Yume featuring Obon floating lanterns.

A max of 20 people per hour will be able to enjoy the glow of lanterns and traditional Japanese folk melodies as they stroll the gardens. Admission is $5 for children under 15, $16 for adults and $10 for members.

“We light the paper lanterns in the evenings, and it makes you feel like you’re in a small Japanese village,” Deridder says.

From November 19 to November 22 and November 27 to November 29, Yume will host the Fall Ikebana Festival showcasing dozens of signature floral arrangements with a distinctive Japanese-style art form. Admission is $5-$16.

“For December we won’t have exhibits, but we will either have concerts or a puppet show for children,” Deridder says. “We might add some like little shows and things, but for the moment that is what we have planned until December.

“It’s extremely difficult to keep open when you only have two people coming in. I think we’ve made it as safe as it can be—it’s like you walk in a park basically.”