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

I live in Houston and have worked as a nurse. I have a lifelong passion for traveling, nature, and photography (preferably all together!).

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


Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on September 01, 2020:

Hi Devika,

If you took photos of the Japanese Garden you saw in South Africa, it would be lovely if you could share them with us here on HubPages. And if you did not, at least you have your memories. I am glad you liked this virtual look at the one we have in Hermann Park. Thanks for your comment.

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on September 01, 2020:

A beautiful stroll in the Japanese Tea Garden. I once looked for a Japanese garden in South Africa and after finding this garden I was amazed by the place. Just amazing! I had no idea of one in Houston. Nevertheless, you took me on a lovely tour.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on February 24, 2020:

Hi Genna,

Very happy to take you on this stroll through the Japanese Tea Garden in Houston. All the ones that I have ever had the pleasure of visiting have been wonderful.

Genna East from Massachusetts, USA on February 24, 2020:

Hi Peggy...

I just love Japanese tea gardens; there is something so soothing an magically introspective about them. Thank you for taking us on a stroll, through words and images, of this lovely place. :-)

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on February 12, 2020:

Hi Manatita,

We do not have the rolling hills of Austin, but I think you would be amazed at the beauty that there is to see and experience in Houston. The Japanese Gardens here are beautiful as they are in other locations.

manatita44 from london on February 12, 2020:

I would love to visit it one day and I'm at home with the Japanese philosophy of placement and reflection. Probably Shinto ideas or Dao philosophy.

I find Austin beautiful but Houston not so much so, but then I haven't seen any of the beautiful places you have mentioned. Informative Hub and great scenery.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on February 11, 2020:

Hi FlourishAnyway,

Like you, every Japanese Garden that I have ever had the pleasure of visiting is beautiful and tranquil.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on February 11, 2020:

Hi Nancy,

So glad to know that you enjoyed these pictures and learning about the Japanese Garden in Houston.

Robert Sacchi on February 11, 2020:

Yes, there is much to see in the area around the San Antonio tea gardens. The different elevations makes the tea gardens all the more interesting,

FlourishAnyway from USA on February 11, 2020:

Although I have visited some overseas and in SC, I never get tired of their tranquility. Your photo and description of this peaceful place make me wish I were there.

Nancy Hinchliff on February 11, 2020:

Reall enjoyed this article. and the pictures were beautiful.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on February 11, 2020:

Hi Robert,

The Japanese Garden in San Antonio is impressive because of its location. I remember seeing it the first time with my grandparents and parents in the early 1960s. The elevation changes are significant, whereas, in Houston, the land is relatively flat.

Robert Sacchi on February 10, 2020:

The pictures looks very pretty. I went to the tea gardens in San Antonio. It was a nice place to walk through. I presume the Houston tea garden has koi ponds as well?

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on February 10, 2020:

Hi Linda,

Those gardens in Vancouver are all gorgeous from what we have seen of them. I am happy to be able to show you this Japanese Garden in Houston. It has its own special kind of beauty.

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on February 10, 2020:

The garden sounds and looks beautiful, Peggy. It reminds me very much of a Japanese garden in Vancouver. I always enjoy visiting it. I would love to visit the one in Houston, too.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on February 09, 2020:

Hi Donna,

The Japanese Garden in Lodi, California sounds lovely. Thanks for telling me about it.

Donna Rayne from Greenwood, Indiana on February 09, 2020:

There is a Japanese garden at Micki Grove Park in Lodi, California. It is absolutely beautiful and a lot of people have gotten married there. Here's the link look on the right side of the page and click on the pictures. I grew up going to this place since I was 2! https://www.bing.com/search?q=Japanese+Garden+in+M...

Thank you for taking me on a beautiful adventure! I loved it!


Donna Rayne

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on February 09, 2020:

Hi Pamela,

If you ever come to Houston, please let me know!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on February 09, 2020:

Hi Ruby Jean,

Many people who have lived in Houston all of their lives were unaware that this Japanese Garden exists. So the fact that you did not know about it is understandable.

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on February 09, 2020:

Peggy, I wish we could meet in that garden. It looks so beautiful.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on February 09, 2020:

Hi Pamela,

Too bad we live so far apart. It would be fun to meet you in person and visit the Japanese Tea Garden together.

Ruby Jean Richert from Southern Illinois on February 09, 2020:

This is my first to learn about this garden in Houston. I worked as a traveling nurse in Houston for 5 years and was able to see some beautiful places. Your article was an enjoyable read. The photos were beautiful!

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on February 09, 2020:

This Japamese garden is beautiful. I love all of your pictures and your descriptions. I wish it wasn't 1,000 miles away as I have no hope of a visit from where I live. Your article is excellent and it certainly makes me want to visit.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on February 09, 2020:

Hi Liz,

All of Hermann Park is free except for the admission prices to the zoo, golfing costs, and admission to the Natural Science Museum, which are all contained within this large city park. The rest of the park is free, including the Miller Outdoor Theater performances. I will showcase more of this park in future posts.

Liz Westwood from UK on February 09, 2020:

This is an extremely well-illustrated article. I love it when you can find an oasis of tranquility like this. It's amazing that admission is free.

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