Idaho Falls is sistered with Tokai Mura, Japan as part of the international Sister Cities Program to promote international understanding and friendship.
In odd-numbered years, a Tokai Mura student delegation visits and stays with American students in Idaho Falls for a week, while an Idaho Falls adult delegation visits Tokai. In even-numbered years, students from Idaho Falls visit Tokai while the Japanese adult delegation visits Idaho Falls.
Why Tokai Mura? Idaho Falls is similar to Tokai Mura as both are agricultural areas specializing in potatoes and both are located near nuclear research facilities. Hence, our economies and agrarian/technical cultures are similar in a wordly sense.
A couple of decades ago, Tokai Mura donated a large stone lantern to Idaho Falls. It was eventually placed in the city park on the island south of Broadway Bridge. Several years ago, Clarke Kido started a project to landscape near the lantern. Judy Sydel and Mike Zaladonis joined in and this grew into a Japanese Garden built by volunteer gardeners.
Paths, bushes, trees and a large deck for public gatherings were installed over a few years. The Japanese garden has become a popular destination for tourists, photographers, and weddings because of its beauty.
The pavilion designer (Edward) has a a Japanese garden at home and has been interested in building structures for it. Several years ago his family joined the student program. Edward and his wife (Cheryl) became officers and worked to raise funds to send students to Japan. When the students went, Edward and Cheryl paid their own way to go as chaperones. While there, Edwad was able to visit several historic buildings and make many good friends.
Because of his interest in Japanese architecture, Edward Zaladonis was contacted to build a gate for the garden. This garden gate was completed in 2012. The gate looks simple, but months of planning and chiseling went into making close-fitting holes for the cross arms to be pressed through. Another subtle roof feature is the 1/4 inch thick, 7-inch wide planks of cedar.