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Hidden Gem – Japanese Garden

Posted by maperna on August 5, 2022

How many of you are aware of the fact that a beautiful Japanese Garden exists in the Balboa Park area of the San Fernando Valley.  From the Japanese Garden website:  “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.

We were genuinely surprised when we discovered this beautiful oasis embedded in the urban jungle of the San Fernando Valley. Prior to COVID, they offered Tea Service in the tea house in the garden. I hope they have plans to resume the tea service, as well as some of the other events they used to offer occasionally, such as a Bonsai Show, Origami, and Real Geisha stories, to name a few.   

The garden is open Monday through Thursday from 10am to 12pm and 12:30 – 3:30pm.   Entrance is free, however, you need to reserve your visit ahead of time.  You are allowed to stay for one hour.  Food and drinks, other than water, are not allowed.  You can make a reservation by clicking this link and scrolling to the bottom of the page: Reservations.   One issue we encountered was a bit of difficulty in finding the parking lot. The entrance to the garden off of Woodley Avenue is well marked. However, once turning right onto the road leading to the lot, you are presented with a closed black gate to the left and a road leading to the right. You need to pull up to the black gate and wait for the guard to come verify that you have an appointment for your visit to the garden. 

Upon entering the garden, you are transported to a world of beauty and tranquility.  We were greeted by some ducks as soon as we entered.  There are many water ponds and features, including a beautiful waterfall towards the back.  It is amazing how much fish is teeming in the water.  The fascinating part is that the water has been processed by the adjacent Donald C. Tillman water reclamation plant.  From the website:  “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.

Another enjoyable aspect was that there were only 2 other people in the garden at the same time we were visiting.  It was a beautiful day and two young women came to stroll their young children around the beautifully landscaped area for an enjoyable walk.  The garden is modeled after the “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 garden had many lovely features, such as several wood bridges crossing the water, a water garden with lilies and lotus flowers,  4 traditional Japanese lanterns, a teahouse and tea garden, and various stone arrangements.  Do yourself a favor and make some time to visit this garden treasure in the San Fernando Valley.  And be sure to check out the website for The Japanese Garden.

I have placed a map below to give you an idea of where it is located.


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