The Japanese Garden
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6100 Woodley Avenue · Van Nuys, CA
After much deliberation on how to draw more traffic to my site, I came to one prevailing conclusion: The Internet lives and breathes through porn and Star Trek.
And since I don't know very many naked women, I figured more Star Trek was the way to go.
Now, what does the Japanese Garden have to do with Star Trek? Well, if you've ever seen an episode of either The Next Generation, Voyager or, I believe, Deep Space Nine in which Starfleet Headquarters made an appearance, then you've seen the Japanese Garden. (I didn't watch DS9 much, but I think they were on Earth at some point fighting the Changelings or some such thing.) Basically, if you can recall any appearance made by the groundskeeper Boothby, played by the late Ray Walston, these were the grounds he was keeping.
In fact, the futuristic structure you see in the photo above is itself used as a Starfleet administration building. Add a large white building behind it, a view of the Golden Gate Bridge in the background and a few uniformed officers walking about as if they have someplace to go, and you get this wonderful establishing shot of 24th-century San Francisco, which I sampled from an episode of Star Trek: Voyager.
(FYI, the same building also served as Streakers International in Mr. Show's Streak-Dome 97.)
Now, the great thing about the Japanese Garden is that if you are a Trekkie — or Trekker, or whatever they're calling themselves these days — then you can actually visit these grounds yourself. To be honest, even if you couldn't care an iso-linear chip about Star Trek, or even know what the hell an iso-linear chip is, you should give the garden a visit, anyway. The price of admission is trivial, the views are fantastic and no matter which way you look, you can barely tell you're in Los Angeles at all. (A huge plus in my book.)
The style of the garden is that of Chisen-Kaiyushiki, which means "wet garden with promenade." It emulates the types of stroll gardens built for Japanese feudal lords during the 18th and 19th centuries. Although it incorporates a dry garden, or karesansui, made of gravel and stone, the primary features revolve around the central lake, where you'll find various aquatic life and possibly the occasional crane strolling the black-pebble shores.
Among the varieties of trees and flowers stand several traditional Japanese forms of architecture, so well incorporated that they seem to have themselves been planted and are growing naturally alongside the foliage. Two arbors, much like gazebos, provide places to rest and to enjoy the tranquility. If food were allowed inside, they would have made excellent locations for a picnic; unfortunately, I was forced to eat my Schlotzky's in the parking lot.
Bridges also play a role in the garden, allowing views above waterways and down at the lotus blossoms, tadpoles and goldfish. The central structure, near the rear of the garden, is the shoin, which overlooks much of the property. The shoin is a 14th- and 15th-century residence built for aristocrats and samurai. Here, however, it serves as a space for meetings and weddings, whatever century you want to pretend they're in.
The presence of water is pervasive and is displayed in three forms: the static lake, the flowing river and the cascading waterfall. And the water is the reason that the Japanese Garden was created in the first place. The garden was built as a scenic extension to the Donald C. Tillman Water Reclamation Plant, which you can get a gander at if you are so inclined, behind that sci-fi administration building.
But, I'll warn you. You don't just view the plant, you smell it. And if the wind is right, you just might taste it, too. Unless you've really got a thing for open sewage, you'll probably just want to stick with the more pleasant and less explicit side of nature around front.
I'd like to point out, by the way, that round, yellow thing in the photo. It's labeled "Life Ring." You know, in case someone were to ... fall in. I don't know, I think I'd rather just drown.
See More Photos of the Japanese Garden
Visit the Phoenix from Star Trek: First Contact