In the midst of the busy San Fernando Valley lies an oasis – a 6 1/2 acre garden, which features three gardens in one. As one enters The Japanese Garden, designed by Doctor Koichi Kawana, there is a dry Zen meditation garden (karesansui) containing Tortoise Island, a three-Buddha arrangement of stones, and a wisteria arbor across a Plover Path. Next along the path is an expansive Chisen or “wet-strolling” garden with waterfalls, lakes and streams, abundant greenery, and stone lanterns which were hand-carved by artisans in Japan. At the end of this path is the Shoin Building with an authentic 4 1/2 tatami mat teahouse and adjacent tea garden.
The idea of having a Japanese Garden adjacent to a water reclamation plant was conceived by Donald C. Tillman. The garden’s purpose was to demonstrate a positive use of reclaimed water in what is generally agreed to be a delicate environment, a Japanese Garden.
The uniqueness of this garden is that it is authentic in every detail. At the same time, every effort has been made to make it compatible with the contemporary buildings nearby, as well as with the San Fernando Valley environment.
The basic style of the garden is known as Chisen-Kaiyushiki, or “wet garden with promenade”, and is fashioned after those strolling gardens which were built during the 18th and 19th centuries for Japanese feudal lords on their vast estates. Due to the immensity of such gardens, lawns were used extensively, giving these gardens a rather open and bright feeling.
The design of the strolling garden enables the viewer to walk from one point to another and to enjoy differing vistas from various points in the garden. A Japanese Garden is created to be enjoyed for each of the four seasons. The combinations of flowers such as azaleas, cherry trees, magnolias, wisteria, raphiolepis indica, iris and lotus, along with the other garden features, provide varying modes and interest throughout the year.
The exquisite design of the “garden of water and fragrance” (suihoen) which was dedicated June 14, 1984, leads us from a world of freeway traffic, pressures and haste into a world of meditative calm where it is possible to focus on and remember the very simple and beautiful in both nature and our lives.