You would be amazed at the many stunning Japanese gardens located in and around Los Angeles. We first started seeing them pop up on television shows. Knowing that the shows were filmed here, we did some research and saw that some of them were reopening following renovations and COVID closures. So, we made a soft plan to start checking them out. Finally, in July, we made some reservations and visited the first one on our lists: Storrier-Stearns Japanese Garden.
Storrier-Stearns Japanese Garden is located up in Pasadena, and it was part of the “exploring greater Los Angeles” plan I had for Andy’s birthday in July. Now, if you know Pasadena at all, or July in Southern California, you know that the temperatures can get pretty hot. Even gorgeous Japanese gardens are going to start to sizzle as mid-day hits. That meant we made an early morning reservation when they first opened. Not only would we beat the heat, but we would also beat the crowds.
A Brief History
Storrier-Stearns Japanese Garden is actually an American Japanese-style garden. From what we learned from the garden historians, it grew during a time when there was an “appreciation and assimilation of Japanese design concepts and aesthetics beginning in the late 19th century and subsiding with the outbreak of World War II.” This space was originally a private garden created by Kinzuchi Fujii for an estate owned by Charles and Ellamae Storrier Stearns. The original property has long been divided and sold, but the Japanese garden was restored by Jim and Connie Haddad, and it has flourished.
On the Garden Property
The original teahouse (built in Japan and then disassembled and shipped to the US) burned in 1981, but it was beautifully rebuilt to match the original design. Alas, it was closed when we were there, but we still looked in and walked around it even though it wasn’t open to the public. We found ourselves wandering over the wooden bridges, washing the waterfall, and spotting the colorful fish and (SO MANY!) turtles that moved around the ponds.
There are serene spots to stop and breathe in the beauty of the place. Chairs and tables are set up close to the teahouse for picnics, and information boards are near the entrance for visitors to get more detailed information on the history of the gardens. Andy even chatted with the lovely and helpful docents about some of the trees growing on the property (everything growing and tended is recorded and indexed for reference).
Our Experience at the Storrier-Stearns Japanese Garden
We were surprised at how much we enjoyed quietly strolling through the garden. We took photos, but often we found ourselves just sitting on a bench and breathing in the tranquility. It was hard to believe that you were in the midst of a city, and the escape was much-needed.
We loved spotting and identifying the different plants and trees. It isn’t a huge place, making it feel less overwhelming and more like a sanctuary. Plus, going early on Sunday meant we didn’t have crowds to dodge. We wanted to stroll through the garden during the morning hours, but you can also celebrate Friday and Saturday evenings. People who have enjoyed the Japanese garden during sunset as the soft lights come up are quoted as saying it is a magical experience. I’m not surprised! I think it’s probably pretty magical at any time of day.
Where is the Storrier-Stearns Japanese Garden?
The garden is at 270 Arlington Drive, Pasadena, California. We quickly found parking outside on the street, but they also have parking near the garden entrance on busy days.
What Does it Cost?
If you register online, the cost per adult is $12. If you are a walk-in, it is $15 at the gate.