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Saturday, January 14, 2012

Experiencing L.A. in January: UCLA Japanese Garden

Another hidden treasure in Los Angeles is the UCLA Hannah Carter Japanese Garden, located less than a mile north of campus on Bellagio Road in the residential neighborhood of Bel Air.

I lived in Los Angeles off and on since age 7 - and have driven within a few blocks of this location hundreds, perhaps thousands, of times. Like most people, including the vast majority of UCLA students and alumni, I never even knew it was there.

The UCLA Japanese Garden is in the secluded and tony residential neighborhood of Bel Air. The Garden is part of a former estate and as a result have a grand total of two parking spaces. Needless to say, entrance to the Garden is by reservation only. More on that in a bit.

During the first week of January two years ago, I took an hour around noon to see what the Garden was all about. This is the entrance off their micro parking lot. There is no street parking, so again - reservations are a must (and they do have someone at the entrance who checks). Oh, and admission is free.

Wow. I was impressed! There were beautiful streams, waterfalls, pathways, trees, rocks, and ferns. As the only other person there was doing some sort of maintenance for the University, I had the entire garden to myself - which actually felt a little weird. To me, that one of the few negatives of this Garden.

The Garden was donated to UCLA in 1965 by Edward Carter, then Chairman of the Regents of the University of California. It's style and design based on the gardens of Kyoto, Japan.

January in Los Angeles.

I'm sure the Garden is beautiful anytime of the year, but for me, it was especially impressive to experience this in the middle of winter. Pictured above is small ravine was filled with large ferns.

Parts of it felt like Hawaii, minus the airfare.

Another view from one of the pathways. Much of the Garden is built on a hillside (after all, this is Los Angeles) so if you visit, bring appropriate walking shoes.

You'll want to read over their website before making a visit. Here's a link.

For a reservation to visit, call 310 794-0320 or email

View UCLA Japanese Garden in a larger map

The Garden is only open Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 10am-2pm. I know, a total of 12 hours a week: very limited hours. But it's a special place and I'd definitely recommend making an effort to visit sometime.

© 2012 - originally posted 1/24/2010


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