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Japanese Tea Garden in Houston, Texas: Serenity in Hermann Park

I live in Houston and love writing reviews of the local restaurants I visit with family and friends.

Japanese Tea Garden in Houston

Japanese Tea Garden in Houston

Japanese Tea Garden

This last weekend, my husband accompanied me to the Japanese Tea Garden in Hermann Park. Though we have lived in Houston for many years, amazingly, it was his first visit to this magnificent garden. He was impressed! I had been there many years ago when the garden was relatively new and the plantings much smaller. It has matured into a thing of great beauty. The descriptive word that primarily pops into my mind is "serenity."

Located at 6000 Fannin Street just north of the Texas Medical Center, it is a public garden operated by the City of Houston Parks and Recreation Department. It is also only a small portion of the much larger 500 acres of Hermann Park. This garden is not widely publicized. At least most of the people I talk to do not realize that this gem of a Japanese Garden is right here in our city.

Japanese Tea Garden in Houston

Japanese Tea Garden in Houston

Landscape Design

It has water elements, and rocks and plantings, much like one would expect to see in a Japanese Garden. What makes this particular garden so special is the use of native Texas pink granite. The granite comes primarily from the Marble Falls part of the state. These large and small pieces of granite boulders were positioned into the waterfall areas and also formed points of interest within the park.

World-renowned Japanese landscape architect Ken Nakajima was consulted, and his services were utilized when this garden was first constructed back in 1992. The genesis of this Japanese Garden came about because of a visit by former Prime Minister Kaifu. Ultimately the land was donated for this garden by the City of Houston. A gift from the Japanese entity, the Commemorative Association of World Expo Fund of Japan, as well as additional charitable foundation support made this Japanese Garden idea a reality.

The art of stone in a Japanese garden is that of placement. Its ideal does not deviate from that of nature.

— Isamu Noguchi

Pink granite used in the design of the Houston Japanese Garden.

Pink granite used in the design of the Houston Japanese Garden.

Japanese Gifts to Houston

The Japanese teahouse was built in Japan and reassembled by craftsmen here on location in Houston. It is a particular type of construction that uses no nails in holding the building together. Signifying mutual friendship, it was a gift from Japan. The welcoming lantern that one first sees when passing through the gate was a gift from Houston’s sister city of Chiba, Japan. It is constructed of solid granite. The Yukimi lantern across the pond was also given to Houston for use in the Houston Japanese Garden by the City of Chiba, Japan.

Recent updates have been added in February of 2009 with the help of Japanese landscape architect Terunobu Nakai. Implementation was by landscape engineer and gardener Hiroshi Iwasaki. The changes have made this American styled Japanese Garden more authentic to what one might find in Japan. I am no expert in Japanese Tea Gardens other than having strolled through several different ones on various trips. What unifies all of them, in my opinion, is the simplicity of design. Those designs seem to impart a feeling of tranquility, harmony, beauty, and serenity as one relaxes in beautiful settings.

Considering that this Japanese Garden sits in the 4th largest city in the United States and is positioned in a centrally located urban park, one feels far removed from all of the hustle and bustle while inside the confines of the garden.

The Japanese garden is a very important tool in Japanese architectural design because, not only is a garden traditionally included in any house design, the garden itself also reflects a deeper set of cultural meanings and traditions. Whereas the English garden seeks to make only an aesthetic impression, the Japanese garden is both aesthetic and reflective. The most basic element of any Japanese garden design comes from the realization that every detail has a significant value.

— E. J. W. Barber

Water sounds in Hermann Park Japanese Garden

Water sounds in Hermann Park Japanese Garden

Enjoying the Serenity

A great many photos were taken with my digital camera last Saturday. A few plants and shrubs were in bloom, punctuating the green spaces. The rush of water spilling over rocks, both large and small, is a sound so soothing that the overall feeling when one is in this sublime garden is one of relaxation. The ducks and squirrels found in this park are quite used to seeing people and appear to be quite tame. Also viewed by us were herons, fish, and turtles.

If you decide to visit the Japanese Garden in Hermann Park, wear some good walking shoes and comfortable clothing. There is no entrance fee, and amenities include a water fountain and restrooms. There are some benches scattered throughout the garden where one can sit and contemplate or meditate. Near the Jones Reflection Pool, you can find the garden entrance in Hermann Park.

This Japanese Garden was designed in a Daimyo style. The entrance is a dry landscape designed garden. As one strolls through the grounds, take the time to enjoy different vistas. Be sure to pay attention and delight in the smallest of details. Let the serenity and tranquility wash over you as you enjoy the very peaceful Japanese Tea Garden in Houston, Texas. I hope you enjoy these many photographs of the portion of our day spent meandering the scenic and tranquil grounds.


This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2020 Peggy Woods