News Release

Visitors to Nikka Yuko Japanese Garden are now able to experience yet another memorable sensation. The garden’s new Nikka Yuko Kamakura (Igloo) domed experience uses 360-degree video to immerse visitors in stunning visual displays of traditional Japanese and Canadian culture and environments.

Visitors will be able to experience the Nikka Yuko Kamakura when the garden opens for its sixth annual Winter Light Festival, beginning Nov. 30. Hosting 12 to 20 people at a time, the Kamakura is a 16-foot diameter dome that uses six lasers to projects images onto the surrounding walls, showcasing art and cultural experiences that will enhance the experience for those visiting the provincial and municipal historical resource.

“This is an exciting development that will help bring visitors to Nikka Yuko Japanese Garden through more of the year,” says Michelle Day, executive director, Nikka Yuko Japanese Garden.

From its opening in 1967 until 2016, the garden was open from May to October. However, the creation of the Winter Light Festival in 2016 expanded the schedule, making it possible for visitors to come in some of the winter months, too. The Kamakura experience will further expand the Winter Light Festival experience, as well as expand new experiences into the shoulder seasons for the months of March to May and October to December.

“This new experience provides our organization a canvas to create more content to showcase in the pre-spring and fall months,” says Day. “Our garden pavilion from Kyoto, Japan, is closed to the public during the off-season, so this will give us a place where the public can still partake in art displays and presentations in the garden.”

The creation of the Kamakura was a collaborative effort as Lethbridge College oversaw the technical development of the dome, ordered and implemented the equipment, and created the video content. Two different 15-minute presentations, developed by Lethbridge College, will debut during the Winter Light Festival – a northern lights experience with dancing auroras amongst the night sky, and a traditional calligraphy experience with bright cherry blossoms.

“This is a great example of collaboration, bringing together Lethbridge College’s technological expertise and Nikka Yuko Japanese Garden’s vision for creating a memorable visitor experience,” says Jason Donkersgoed, director, LC Extension. “Credit goes to our team in the Centre for Teaching, Learning and Innovation, which has used emerging technologies to bring this vision to life. This project supports economic revitalization and we look forward to continued partnership opportunities with Nikka Yuko and other community groups.”

Construction of the dome was led by Wesbridge Construction, while the Nikka Yuko Japanese Garden Society oversaw and supported the content development, working with college representatives to ensure the authenticity of Nikka Yuko Kamakura experiences. The Nikka Yuko team is developing stories, programs and experiences to enhance the digital content. For future content development, the society will continue to work with students and technology experts at the college, as well as exploring opportunities to work with other community organizations.

This is the second collaboration between Nikka Yuko and Lethbridge College, following the creation of an interactive video koi pond in the garden’s Bunka Centre, which opened in late 2021.

Funding for the project was supported by Travel Alberta’s Tourism Investment Program.

Visitors can experience the Kamakura experience beginning Nov. 30 during the Winter Light Festival. Tickets for the Winter Light Festival are available now at the Bunka Centre or by calling Nikka Yuko at 403-328-3511.