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Dealership helps open Japanese oasis of calm in Harrogate

Motor retailer Lookers Nissan has gone back to its roots after helping to launch a newly restored Japanese Garden in Harrogate.

Lookers Nissan joined local residents and avid horticulturists to re-open the Japanese Garden at Valley Gardens to the public.

The Japanese Ambassador, Mr Koji Tsuruoka, opened the garden and revealed its name, Shijima no niwa, Garden of Serenity, in the presence of Harrogate Mayor Councillor Bernard Bateman, High Sherrif of North Yorkshire Christopher J C Legard Esq and Susan Mendus from Heritage Lottery, as well as over 60 invited guests.

Lookers, which has a tradition of getting involved in local community projects, helped to fund the official opening of the gardens.

Work on the gardens began in March 2017 after preservation group The Friends of Valley Gardens received £90,000 of Heritage Lottery Funding.

The Japanese Garden was first introduced in the 1930s at a time when they were a common design feature in English estates and parks. Unfortunately, it was absorbed into the rest of the grounds over time, losing many of its period features.

While finishing touches are expected to run until next year, the garden is now open to the public and includes a new entrance, bridges and signage.

An important part of the project is to encourage community involvement so that young people and visitors can learn about the heritage of the garden and increase their understanding of Japanese culture.

Ann Beeby, Volunteer Project Manager for the Friends of Valley Gardens, in partnership with Harrogate Borough Council, said: “We would like to say a massive thank you to Lookers Nissan for helping us to celebrate this huge milestone in the restoration of our beautiful Japanese Gardens. It’s been a really rewarding project and one that will benefit the entire local community for many years to come.

“We are particularly looking forward to the run up to the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo and invite everyone to visit our own little piece of Japan right here in Harrogate.”

Lookers Nissan, which has dealerships on Kirkstall Road in Leeds, has a tradition of supporting community projects and recently became a Gold Sponsor of Leeds Autism Services.

Lookers Nissan General Manager Martin Watson, said: “We are immensely proud to be supporting the launch of this breath-taking Japanese Garden, which will no doubt provide a lot of enjoyment to the people of Harrogate, as well as those visiting this magnificent town.”