Monday, July 18, 2011

Totally Texas -- Water, shade and friendship

Taniguchi Japanese Garden

Zilker Botanical Gardens

2220 Barton Springs Rd., Austin


I wonder how many of us, by age seventy, would long to dig a three-acre garden out of a Texas hillside. But that’s what Isamu Taniguichi did for his adopted city of Austin. Donating his services to the city, the native of Osaka, Japan, spent eighteen months near the end of his life transforming a rugged landscape into a thing of beauty. Whether because of his Japanese heritage or his experience in the Texas climate, Mr. Taniguichi understood the value of shade and water that make the make his garden an oasis during the summer heat.

Trails and steps lead from the entrance of the Zilker Botanical Gardens to the jewel box garden of pools landscaped in Texas and Japanese plants with its “Walk over the Moon” Togetsu-kyo Bridge, and shaded teahouse within a setting of native caliche rock. The stone gates are a gift from Austin’s sister city of Oita, Japan.

The Taniguichi garden itself, opened in 1969, is one of several within the thirty-one acres
of Zilker Botanical Gardens, just north of Zilker Park near downtown Austin. Other theme gardens include the Hartman Prehistoric Garden recreating local dinosaur habits.

The gardens are normally open daily from 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. (During daylight savings time they are open until 7 p.m. but a sign at the entrance warns that the final entry is at 6:40 p.m. Weekday parking at the gardens is generally free for garden visitors, but there is a $3 fee per car on weekends and holidays from March through Labor Day. See for a calendar of events, which may include special admission fees.

For more information about the Taniguchi Japanese Garden, and to hear Mr. Taniguichi’s own words, go to

(Next Monday -- Culture-wise and temperature-wise, the Crow Collection of Asian Art in Dallas is cool. Price-wise, it’s free.)

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