Elements of a Japanese Garden
Photos by Forrest Anderson
Imagine you're sitting in traffic in Los Angeles on a hot day. It's time to take a break and head for a cool, green oasis - the superb Suihoen Japanese Garden in nearby Van Nuys.
The 6 1/2-acre garden is a refreshing, relaxing break from the congestion of LA's highways. You can stroll through a dry Zen meditation garden, around a small lake and past streams and through a traditional Japanese teahouse. Then climb a hill, enjoy a cool waterfall and stop to rest in a rustic hilltop pavilion while you look out over the entire garden. On your way back to the entrance, walk over a winding zigzag bridge. Finally, you climb to another look out where you can see the garden from above and ... the pipes of a water reclamation plant?
In additon to being one of the best Japanese gardens in the United States, the Suioen Garden is built next to the Tillman Water Reclamation Plant and is fed by water from the plant. Its purpose is to demonstrate a positive use of reclaimed water in a delicate nature environment. The garden was designed by Koichi Kawana, who pioneered the designing of Japanese gardens outside of Japan using plants indigenous to the areas in which they were created. The plant services almost a milliion people west, north and northeast of the plant, including residential, industrial and commercial sectors.
The garden, which has been a backdrop in a variety of films including Star Trek and is the site of various seasonal festivals, is the perfect place to learn about the basic elements of a Japanese gerden.
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