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Lethbridge Road Trip / Nikka Yuko Japanese Gardens

I LOVES me a road trip!!!  My new Canuck buddy Michelle + I took the 140 mile (225km) drive down to Lethbridge for some good ol’ Southern Alberta sight seeing!





The long drive flew by compared to the last time I drove down to Lethbridge with Jeff.  Maybe that’s because I had Michelle in the passenger seat to chat with, as opposed to a silent husband who was studying his new script for “Hell on Wheels”.  For. The. Entire. Drive.  Snoozeville!!!!  Love you Jeff – I appreciate your dedication towards work, but engaging road trip partner – methinks not.

First stop on the trip was Nanton to check out the antiques.  Remember Nanton, with the cool grain elevators from my other post?



There was no antique drooling with Jeff in tow.  He was like, “Nuh-uh.  No way.  C’mon little lady, vamanos.”.  Antiques + gal pal = fun times.  It’s nice to have gal pals.






I call this store, “The Mother of All Antique Stores”.  But, I guess they call it, “Sentimental Journeys Antiques”.  I prefer my title, but who’s asking?

The interior of the massive store + Michelle.  Hey Michelle!

This store went on + on + on + on!!!  Basement, upstairs, rooms + rooms + rooms!!! 9,000 square feet of showroom floor!!!!!!!!

Michelle + I pondered over the fact that we could possibly live in Sentimental Journeys, but we decided it would be in our best interest if we moved on.

We arrived in Lethbridge, had the most amazing + messiest burgers at “Five Guys Burgers + Fries”.   It’s pretty much like In n’ Out on steroids.  My advice – between 2 people, get one order of their tasty, fresh cut fries.  Or else it’s fries for days.  Honestly, one of the best burgers I’ve had in a long time, but no photos cuz I’m serious, y’all – it was crazy messy + you don’t need to be seeing pictures of crazy messy girls!!!

Next door to Five Guys is the glorious “Bulk Barn”.  They have everything in bulk from organic quinoa to dog food!!!  Since we weren’t feeling gluttonous enough from burgers + fries we decided to raise the bar + grab some candy!

I’m really sad to discover that the closest Bulk Barn to Vancouver is in the Okanagan valley.  Sad.

Our next destination was the Nikka Yuko Japanese Gardens in Lethbridge.



Check out my Los Angeles winter black attire, boots + down coat.  I was like, “Yo!  It’s freezing!”.  Michelle was in a summery white hoodie + capris.  I will adjust.  One day.



Many Japanese Canadians were harshly removed from their homes + businesses during the 1940’s from the west coast of Canada into the Canadian interior due to wartime paranoia + prejudice.  A great number of them were relocated to Lethbridge + were forced to work as farm laborers.  After the war, hundreds of Japanese stayed in Lethbridge + the community thrived.

Built as a celebration for Canada’s centennial in 1967, Nikka Yuko symbolizes the contributions of the Japanese community of Lethbridge + also as a symbol of goodwill between Canada + Japan. Nikka Yuko’s name is derived from the Japanese words Ni (from Nihon meaning Japan), ka from Kanada or Canada, and Yuko, which translates as “friendship” to mean “Japan-Canada friendship”. 

Will you believe me dear readers when I say that once I stepped through the entrance gate, I felt like I had been transported to Japan!  For reals!

The pavilion/tea house.

All of the staff wore kimonos which were worn a little haphazardly + incorrectly, but nonetheless it was really endearing.  I asked this girl if I could take a picture because it would make my mother really happy.  Who would deny me that request?!

Views of the water from the pavilion.

We walked along the extremely well groomed paths – it was all so serene!!!!  Michelle + I both agreed that Nikka Yuko was the perfect first date destination!  I don’t think that many dudes from Calgary read my blog, but heed my word – if you take your lady friend to Nikka Yuko, you’re golden!!!

The streams + water features + were like a dream!!!!

The bell tower, along with the pavilion, gates + bridges were all hand crafted in Kyoto + shipped to Lethbridge.

I couldn’t resist giving it a whirl!











Michelle also has a blog!  Check it out!

We left Nikka Yuko with high spirits + gave it an A+++ rating!  It is really worth a visit!

After Nikka Yuko, we drove into the old part of Lethbridge, did some damage at a REALLY amazing used bookstore that Michelle introduced me to.  Also, you can’t visit Lethbridge without going into Nakagama’s Japanese Foods + Giftware  .  You can read more about the history of the Nakagama’s on one of my past posts

Michelle piled up on goods for sushi making + I walked away with some yummy Japanese vittles as well!

The drive back home to Calgary was filled with good conversation + discussion, so the 2 1/2 plus hour drive felt like nothin’.  I’m so appreciative to have a new buddy to go on adventures with!  Adventures are my forte!!!!!  Hope everyone has been well!  I miss everyone!!!


6 Comments Post a comment
  1. What a packed day, hey?! It didn’t feel rushed though! And thanks for sharing a link to my blog! 🙂

    August 5, 2012
    • Yeah! Now that I look back, we did a lot of running around!!!! A marathon of fun times!!!!

      August 8, 2012
  2. hiroko nishino #

    Thanks Shel explained the meaning of NIKKA YUKO JAPANESE GARDEN. Actually YUKO goes like YUUKOU. It is difficult to spell out the Japanese pronunciations.
    It is so beautiful places and I think of Japanese garden in Japan. Loved this blog very much. Thanks Shelli and Michelle.

    August 5, 2012
    • I wish I could take you there, mom!!!! It really is eerie how much I felt that I was in Japan!!!!

      August 8, 2012
  3. kenny daddO/Papi nishino #

    ALOHA, Nan,..glad U and new buddy had a enjoyable 2+++
    hour drive 2 Lethbridge, and Wow, what a fantastic Japanese
    Garden in the middle of …Canada,…hehe…LOL !!!!! again U R
    taking sum terrific photo’s, ON !!!!! ok, everyone is good
    here in ole Agoura, Megu’s, as always is being a bit weird, she
    does miss U heap’s !!!!! hey, 2 son’in’law, Take Care, Luv U !!!!!

    August 6, 2012
    • Thanks for the thumbs up on my photography, dad! That means heaps coming from you!!!!

      August 8, 2012

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