After graduating from the University of Wisconsin in 1966, John Anderson traveled to Japan with a fraternity brother to explore the country and to learn about its culture. He and his friend spent time with a long time family business associate and friend, Mr. Akira Ohno. Mr. Ohno is the President of Morinaga Milk Industries. Little did John Anderson know this trip would lay the foundation for a lifelong appreciation of the Japanese people and their culture. In 1972, as John Anderson’s family had grown in number he and his wife Linda decided to purchase land that is at the top of the hill and to the north of the current Garden. The family moved in to their new home in 1975. Fortunately part of the land was a bit of a swamp due to Spring Creek running through the property. Mr. Anderson decided to begin cleaning up the property below their home. Once he started he realized the site had the potential to have a Japanese style landscape built around the spring fed pond, the same style of landscape that had so touched his soul in Japan in 1966.

On a business trip in 1978, Mr. Anderson visited the Portland, Oregon Japanese garden where he once again was swept up in the beauty and inspiration found in a Japanese garden. During this tour through the Portland Japanese Garden, Mr. Anderson asked who was instrumental in the design and construction of the garden. He was given the name of Hoichi Kurisu who he promptly called on his return to Rockford. Mr. Kurisu was asked to come to Rockford to start construction of a garden around the pond below the Anderson home. He arrived in the fall of 1978 and has been coming to the Garden every year since then with his crew. John Anderson and Hoichi Kurisu have worked together for more than thirty years to build this garden. They have become close friends. They claim to have many more years of work ahead of them.