Japan Festival Gives Gardeners a Chance at one of Houston's Best Kept Secrets

The annual Japan Festival is a testament to Houston’s diversity. It is presented by the Japanese-American Society of Houston. While the event is free to the public, festival organizers hope to raise money to renovate the Japanese Garden in Hermann Park.

It is tucked into a secluded corner off Fannin Street, and unless you’ve spent time
at the Japanese Garden in Hermann Park, it is almost difficult to describe its
beauty. Ken Minami is director of the Japanese Garden.

“The maintenance of the Japanese Garden has been well maintained by the city
however, this garden is losing the Japanese flavor. So, we decided to start some kind
of renovation and we want to maintain the genuine Japanese Garden here.”

Donna Fujimoto Cole is on the steering committee for the Japan Festival and
helped to kick off fund raising efforts. She says there was never a big push to do
more than just provide maintenance for the Japanese Garden.

“We’re hoping to raise at least $50,000. I know it doesn’t sound like alot of money, but when you’re putting on a festival that’s free admission, we’re hoping that people will come
out and spend some money and get some culture throughout the festival, but also as they
walk into the garden just to feel the serenity that it brings to you.”

Goers embrace seasonal changes with plants that bloom for limited periods but
thrive in Houston’s near year-round tropical environment. Roksan Okin Vick,
executive director of the Houston Parks Board calls the Japanese Garden a jewel
of the 324 parks maintained by the city of Houston.

“Residents that come to our city, that is one of the first things they ask us. Where can I look
for a place of respite and the Japanese Garden is an excellent example. Unfortunately, it’s
a well kept secret, but I think, not for long.”

More information can be found on our website,

Pat Hernandez, Houston Public Radio News.