All visitors who aren’t members must buy a general admission ticket.

9am-7pm daily

Japanese Garden

Asian oasis under coast live oaks

A tranquil melange of garden styles

Tucked beneath the shade of coast live oaks, Descanso’s Japanese Garden incorporates features found in many different styles of gardens in Japan, including a stroll garden, a stream-and-pond garden, a tea garden and a raked-gravel garden. The raked-gravel garden is known as karesansui, a type of Japanese rock garden first designed to inspire contemplation.

See it on our map

Native Asian plants

The plants in our Japanese Garden are all native to Asia and include camellias, azaleas, black pines, mondo grass, flowering cherry trees, and Japanese maples. The garden was designed by noted Los Angeles landscape architect Eijiro Nunokawa.

Architectural highlights

The Japanese Garden includes several distinctive architectural elements. Designed by San Marino architect Whitney R. Smith, the teahouse, with its roof crafted from blue tiles imported from Japan, is especially striking in the spring when the nearby pink cherries are in bloom. The garden includes a minka designed by Kenneth Masao Nishimoto. Built in 1969, the minka is modeled after the traditional Japanese farmhouse.

Dedicated volunteers made it possible

Opened in 1966, the Japanese Garden was built with all-volunteer labor and funding provided by the Japanese American community. It was the culmination of years of effort by a dedicated group, including Mrs. Forrest Kresser “Judge” Smith, founding president of the Descanso Gardens Guild, and Guild board member Frank Kuwahara.

Did you know?

There are two Hiroshima survivor trees in the Japanese Garden. Both are descendants of a Japanese persimmon that survived the atomic bomb blast in 1945. They were given to us in 2020 by the Rotary Heiwa: Hiroshima Survivor Tree group to help spread their message of peace and hope for a nuclear-free world.