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Visitors to Lethbridge may be surprised to find a sprawling Japanese garden in the southeast corner of the city. Nikka Yuko Japanese Garden is a year-round attraction that features a vast array of Canadian flora displayed in a distinctly Japanese style, bringing a unique taste of Japanese culture to southern Alberta.

According to executive director, Michelle Day, the garden has three distinct elements: horticultural, with a diverse range of Canadian flora; historical, as visitors learn about the unique experience of those with Japanese-Albertan ancestry; and cultural, sharing the unique customs and traditions of modern Japan.

The garden’s stunning centrepiece, an ornate wooden pavilion, was shipped to Lethbridge from Kyoto.

With support from Travel Alberta’s Product Development Fund, Nikka Yuko recently unveiled a new interactive “Igloo Dome” experience.

“The response to the dome has been incredible. We’ve sold out almost every single seat since it opened.”

The dome projects northern lights and other distinctly Canadian elements alongside Japanese-inspired imagery across the round ceiling. Here, Nikka Yuko hosts year-round programming, demonstrations and events.


When people come visit Nikka Yuko Japanese Garden or the dome experience, what I’m hoping that they take away is how beautiful and diverse our community is, and how diversity brings community beauty. And if they continue to enhance our community through that beauty and diversity, or they take that home, we feel that we’ve done our purpose.

Michelle Day, Executive Director at Nikka Yuko Japanese Garden

Welcoming Japanese visitors to Alberta

As WestJet begins regular direct service between Tokyo and Calgary later this month, Alberta can expect an increase in Japanese visitors this summer. This is great news for all operators and an opportunity for Nikka Yuko to strengthen their relationship with Japan.

“This is going to enhance our already strong connection and ties to Japan. We can’t wait to welcome our Japanese visitors to Alberta, especially Southern Alberta.”

The Nikka Yuko Japanese Garden in Lethbridge offers a unique cultural gateway to Japan.

This news comes at an opportune time, as the rate of international travel is expected to tick upward heading into summer. That’s why the Travel Alberta team has been hard at work re-entering our key international markets, promoting Alberta as a must-visit destination for both business and leisure travel.

In February, we hosted 40 international buyers from the U.K., Germany, Australia, U.S. and Canada at our first Immersive Marketplace, alongside partners from Calgary, Canmore, Banff, Lake Louise, Edmonton, Jasper, and more.

“Another benefit of working with Travel Alberta is their ability to connect with buyers around the world to showcase our products and experiences that we’re producing. That means the world to us because being that smaller local attraction, we don’t have the ability to have that far of a reach. But Travel Alberta assists with that.”

Investing in Alberta tourism

In 2022, Travel Alberta invested in 249 tourism projects across the province. We are dedicated to collaborating with industry and stakeholders to grow our visitor economy. Together, we can position Alberta for a prosperous future that benefits visitors and residents.

Find out how your business can benefit from investment funding

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