If you’re looking for a zen atmosphere in Los Angeles, then I recommend that you visit the authentic Japanese garden in Van Nuys.
This hidden gem is located in the heart of the San Fernando Valley, on the border of Van Nuys, just across from the Sepulveda Basin. The garden is designed by Doctor Koichi Kawana, he’s a garden designer, architect, and artist. You can find his other Japanese garden designs in St. Louis, Denver, Chicago, San Diego’s Balboa Park and Los Angeles County Museum of Art.
This oasis is about 6.5 acres which featured three gardens in one; Karesansui, Chisen-Kaiyushiki, and the Shoin building where you can find the tea garden. Karesansui is considered the dry Zen meditation garden, you can find a three-Buddha arrangement of stones, Tortoise island, and a wisteria arbor. The wisteria arbor is very calming, so we chilled there for a moment and had a quiet reflection.
As you walk pass through Karesansui, you’ll find the Chisen-Kaiyushiki or “wet-strolling” garden with manicured trees, plants, lakes, streams, and waterfalls. Look closely and you’ll see some hand-carved stone lanterns which were imported from Japan. These strolling gardens were copied from the estates of the Japanese feudal lords during the 18th and 19th centuries. When I was there, it gave me an open and bright feeling. You can hear water flows nicely, it’s so serene and peaceful.
If you’re into tea, you’ll like the tea garden where they featured a wide variety of plants that can be harvested and brewed for your favorite drink. There’s an authentic tatami-mat teahouse where you can hang out but they don’t have staff that serves tea. I guess it’s just there as an accessory, to give you an experience on what it’s like to be in a Japanese teahouse.
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“SuihoEn” also known as the garden of water and fragrance can be enjoyed for each of the four seasons. But springtime is the best season in my opinion coz that’s when most flowers bloom. You’ll enjoy the cherry trees if you’re into cherry blossoms like I do. They have flowers such as magnolias, azaleas, lotus, wisteria, water lilies, and so on.
The admission fee is $5 for adults and $3 for seniors and kids. It’s pretty reasonable since the parking is free. Most museums in Los Angeles charged arm and leg for parking. They’re open from 11 am to 4 pm on Monday to Thursdays. They’re closed on Fridays and Saturdays since they use it for engagement, weddings, and other events. Then they open again on Sundays from 10 am to 4 pm. It’s nice to visit the garden on a cloudy day so your pictures will turn out great. If there’s too much heat from the sun, bring a hat or wear sunscreen.
They offer a tour but you have to call them in advance. The “docent” or the tour guide work voluntarily, he or she will lead you through the garden explaining the history and culture of SuihoEn. And also, if you’re into origami, they have origami lesson at the gift shop. I’m not sure how often they do it but you can call in advance to find out.
They share its location with Donald C. Tillman Water Reclamation Plant
6100 Woodley Ave.
Van Nuys, CA 91406
Phone #: 818-756-8166