Houston's Japanese Garden
Hermann Park’s Japanese Garden lies tucked away alongside the reflection pool at the back of the park. It seems appropriate that it doesn’t scream for your attention but rather waits for you to find it. I suspect most visitors arrive in the garden with the expectation of finding a peaceful and tranquil place, a short break from the busy city. If it works its magic on everyone else as it does on me, we all leave with a sense of being refreshed.
Whereas a flower garden will often trigger in me behavior akin to an ecstatic squirrel frenetically collecting nuts, a Japanese Garden has a completely opposite effect. In this garden, our eyes find rest rather than stimulation as every view reveals a perfectly composed still-life. Houston’s Japanese Garden satisfies with all the expected features; stone lanterns, wooden bridges, flowing water, a tea house, some very large koi and even a wisteria covered arbor.
Surprisingly, there’s no entrance fee to the garden, which I think says something very positive about the City of Houston, which is responsible for the care of the park. It’s commendable that everyone is given access to a place so capable of reducing stress.
The garden boasts three stone lanterns, one of which sits at the entrance to the garden. This lantern was a gift from Chiba City in Japan, one of Houston’s 17 sister cities. Chiba City became a sister city of Houston in 1972, twenty years before the opening of the Japanese Garden. The tea house was also a gift from Japan and the house was actually constructed and assembled there before being shipped to Houston.