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Japanese Garden in Hermann Park
URL:Goto this web site  http://www.hermannpark.org/ 
Name:Japanese Garden in Hermann Park garden photo
Hermann Park - Houston
Photo: James Phillips

Alternate Name: 
Address:Main St & Sunset Blvd 
Mailing Address:Japanese Garden Society of Houston 
Postal Code:77005 
Latitude/Longitude:lat=29.722195; long=-95.392451
Find Gardens Nearby
Weather:current weather 
Phone:+1.713.466.1690 (tours) or 713.284.1914 (other) 
Contact:Norma Inafuku (for info on garden society, tours and cultural events) 
Designer(s):Ken Nakajima 
Construction Period: -  
Hours:Open daily April-Sept, 10am-6pm and Oct-Mar, 10am-5pm 
Admission:The garden used to charge an admission fee, but no longer does so.
Call 713.845.1003 for information on organizing events. 
Added to JGarden:7/8/2000 
Last Updated:5/1/2005 
JGarden Description:The Japanese Garden in Hermann Park is operated by the City of Houston, Parks and Recreation Department and was created by the efforts of American and Japanese businesses with grants from many foundations and individuals. The City of Houston donated the land and helped with the construction. It is a symbol of friendship between this country and Japan.

This particular garden is a daimyo style, and includes a tea garden, a kaiyushiki stroll garden, and a scroll garden. The entry garden is a dry landscape garden. Imagine you are standing on the sea (black moonstone) and the boulders are the rising landscape of Japan. The bamboo flowing in the wind represents the sound of the ocean. The boulders were moved from a former Japanese garden at the downtown Houston Lighting & Power building downtown.

Entrance to the garden is through the gatehouse or nagayamon. A gatehouse at one time was used for living quarters or storage, but here it is used for other purposes, - ticket booth utility room and rest rooms.

Through the gate straight ahead there is a welcoming lantern, a gift from the city of Chiba, Japan. This five-piece lantern was carved from solid granite. The aperture of the lantern focuses the spirit of the garden. There are three stone lanterns, ishi-doro, in this garden.

Curved pathways in the garden are covered with crushed stone similar to moonstone. The arbor is a place to sit, meditate and clear the mind of other thoughts. It is also special place to wait until called to tea ceremony in the teahouse. Across the pond, one can see the yukimi lantern given by Houston's sister city - Chiba. Imagine that it is a lighthouse placed on a stone beach, with the pond as an ocean and the rocks in the water symbolizing ships being guided by the lantern. The cascade or waterfall makes one think of melting snow from a mountain stream. The hill is landscaped in cherry-blossom-pink crape myrtles, which bloom in the summer. Crape myrtle trees, which originated in China and Japan, are common in Houston. The stones are of Texas pink granite from Marble Falls near Austin.

Leaving the arbor, proceed to the right along the flat stones through the tea garden gate or niwakido. Before entering the teahouse, tea ceremony guests walk along this path which the host will have moistened to appear damp with morning dew. This path is hence called the dewy path or roji.

The tsukubai, at the end of the dewy path is used to purify oneself before going into the teahouse. This tsukubai arrangement includes the water basin, three flat rocks surrounding it and a bamboo dipper to dip water from the water basin. A beautiful sound is created when water falls through the small stones into the mizukoto or water harp below.

Near the teahouse are two viewing stones. When the teahouse is open and one stands on these viewing stones to look through the teahouse, one can see a living picture of the waterfall with the distant pine trees creating a borrowed landscape or shakkei. This living picture resembles a Japanese woodblock print or ukiyoe. It is important to note, the teahouse was placed first and the garden view was then created around it.

This teahouse was donated by the Commemorative Association of the World Expo Fund of Japan with the initiative of former Prime Minister Kaifu who visited Houston in 1990 for the World Economic Summit. It was built in Japan and reassembled here by Japanese craftsmen. The teahouse is made from hinoki, or Japanese cypress beams. Hinoki is famous for its smooth, fine grain and is an essential element in Japanese wooden construction. Inside, the crossbeams, which support the ceiling, are made of a special Japanese red cedar tree called Kitayama-sugi from Kyoto, Japan. This wood is carefully cultivated so knots do not develop. Made without nails, the teahouse is an excellent example of Japanese wooden mortise and ten 

Ryoanji Temple, Kyoto
Only in the cloister
Could such a garden thrive, a soil where nature
    Flowers in spiritual dryness,
Drawing an interior nurture
    From sand and rock.

Where the labyrinth of illusion
    No longer entangles the senses
Enmeshing vision in delusive lusters;
Where the lust of the eyes is silenced
And desire of forms, and names of forms,
    Move to no visible end.

Those who planted here
Sowed no ephemeral seed
For the seasonal tempests to scatter,
But the silent root that ripens in detachment,
    Flowers in renunciation.

Gardeners of eternity,
Those who planted here
    Framed the garden in the image of a desert
    And the desert in the image of a sea --
Then shrunk the seas to the mind's salt and, tasting,
    Dissolved all thought away.

On these rocks no water breaks. Without attrition
Tides and currents in this ocean rest and revolve
    In a void of sound, vortex of sand; perpetual
Circles enmesh and paralyzed sea and air:
The effigy of time and measure
    Purged of time and measure

Becalmed on this dead sea of being
No wave moves, no wind of desire
    Flexes the indolent sail.
But focussing its single eye
On dreamless immobility
The gulf like a burnished mirror
    Regards the empty void.

In this dead sea of vision the surges
Merge without movement; the tides
Indifferent to flood and ebb
    Freeze in a flux of haste.
The seagull without motion
Broods on the changeless waste,
Then sinks, his feathers frozen,
    In a sand ocean.

Frail caravels who sail
This subtle gulf, morte mer,
Who stir with urgent keel
The fossil waters of the Great Mirage,
    Or steer by lodestone to delusive ports:

In this calm beyond stasis, dead calm,
No compass points to the land,
    No magnet of attachment
    Guides the helmsman's hand
Through fifteen naked rocks in raked and rhythmic sand.

Here is no sea for the admirals,
The whalers, the merchants of cargoes --
    Those finite venturers for the temporal haven.
These depths are destination,
And naufrage sweeter than harbor.
    Shipwreck is haven on this inland sea.

  John M. Steadman
  20th Century

©1996-2002, Robert Cheetham; ©2018 Japanese Garden Research Network, Inc.
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