Spring is in full bloom, and that means it’s cherry blossom season – a fleeting but stunning time of year. Mississauga’s Kariya Park is a popular spot to take in the spectacular flowers, but even when the blossoms fall away, there’s still plenty of reasons to visit.

Named after Mississauga’s sister city, Kariya, Japan, the park is centred around serenity and natural beauty, designed to authentically capture the essence of Japan. It provides visitors with the opportunity to enjoy Kariya’s culture and pay tribute to the friendship between the two cities.

In honour of the 40th anniversary of the sister city relationship, the City of Mississauga will enhance this beautiful park by planting six Somei Yoshino Sakura cherry trees, sent as a gift by Kariya’s mayor.

Cherry blossoms are in bloom in early May, so now is the perfect time to see them. Whether you’re visiting during peak season or throughout the year, don’t miss the other highlights that make Kariya Park so special:

1.Japanese Buildings and Bridges: Upon entering the park, the first sight you’ll see is the traditional Japanese pavilion. This building is beautiful on its own, but what makes it especially distinct is the meaning behind the structure. Containing two sides, one for both Mississauga and Kariya, the pavilion is a physical symbol of the two cities’ friendship. Kariya Park is filled with walking paths, one of which takes you to a bridge overarching the pond. A popular spot for photos, it offers up views of the pavilion, pond, wildlife and a cherry tree.

2. The Friendship Bell and Statuary: One of the main focal points of the park is the Friendship Bell, a gift from Kariya carved with iris flowers symbolizing development, which sits between both sides of the pavilion. Continuing the bell’s theme, The Statue of Friendship is another beautiful landmark you’ll find as you walk the park’s paths, featuring a boy and a girl happily sitting side by side.

3. Seasonal Blooms: The cherry blossoms aren’t the only foliage you’ll find at the park. There’s a wealth of natural beauty, including Japanese Maple trees, sweet gum trees, gengko, forsythia, and gardens featuring seasonal flowers (right now, you’ll catch hyacinths and tulips in bloom.) With different flowers in bloom throughout the year, the park is always changing so there’s something new to see every time you visit.

4. The Zen Garden: While the entire park is designed to be both aesthetically pleasing and zen, there’s also an actual zen garden, a meditative space that invokes peace and calm. Since Kariya Park is located amid the hustle and bustle of Mississauga’s downtown core, this park truly is an oasis.

5. Water-Loving Wildlife: Kariya’s pond is a welcoming habitat for a wealth of wildlife, including dozens of koi fish, families of ducks and at least three turtles. When visiting, it’s important to enjoy the environment without causing distress to the creatures that call it home – including avoiding feeding them non-friendly food.

Mississauga is home to over 500 parks, and while Kariya Park is one of the most special, there are hundreds more local gems to explore. Follow Visit Mississauga on Facebook and Instagram to learn about all the incredible destinations throughout the city, plus upcoming events and more.