Sitting on a hillside overlooking the sweeping Tramore Bay in Waterford, a collection of stately gardens exist as a reminder of one man’s triumph in the face of adversity.
The Lafcadio Hearn Japanese Gardens are an oasis of tranquility – amidst sparkling waterfalls and streams, an air of utmost serenity prevails.
Elegant bridges inspired by traditional Japanese architecture, a natural amphitheatre built directly in to the landscape, rare plant specimens adding splashes of colour along the winding walkways – the Gardens bring the beauty of Japanese design to the Irish seaside.
A Family Legacy
Just two hours from Dublin and in the heart of Ireland’s Ancient East, the Gardens are an ode to author Lafcadio Hearn, later known as Koizumi Yakumo. Born in Greece, abandoned by his parents in Dublin, and later sent to America with nothing but $5 in his pocket, Hearn would one day become the medium through which the West came to know Japan.
Eventually settling in Japan, Hearn married to the beautiful Koizumi Setsu,changed his name to Koizumi Yakumo, and at last found tranquillity and peace.
Happy Summers in Tramore
Having spent his happiest childhood summers in Tramore, alongside his great aunt Sarah, the Gardens were created on the banks of the bay where Hearn last saw his father at the age of seven.
Conceived following the visit of Koizumi Bon, Hearn’s great grandson, in 2012, they were built on the site of an existing garden, incorporating mature trees, rocks, and water from a natural spring seamlessly into the design.
Life stories in the gardens
The different gardens track Hearn’s life, from his birth on the Greek island of Lefkas, his childhood spent in Victorian Ireland, his years working as a journalist in America and to Japan.
Hearn’s folk tales, musings, and discoveries about Japan brought knowledge of the Land of the Rising Sun to the West, connecting two cultures from opposites ends of the world. To this day, Hearn inspires collaboration and communication between Japan and the West.
Tramore has since established a friendship with the city of Matsue that gifted a bronze relief of Yakumo made by a acclaimed sculptor Minoru Kurasawa – today, it stands at ‘Journey’s End’ in the Gardens. Through his life and his story, Koizumi Yakumo continues to brings cultures together.