For a hit of Zen in the midst of suburbia, there's nothing like the Japanese Garden in Hayward. Originally the site of the agricultural studies program of Hayward High School (from 1913 to 1962, that is), the park was the first Japanese-style garden established in California. Set on more than three acres of Japanese and native California trees, rocks, and plants is a koi pond (also home to smaller fish and turtles), a teahouse, and a chain of viewing pavilions, one of which extends over the water. Enter the garden via a rustic wooden arch and stroll the paved paths, admiring fine specimens of cypress, ivy, ornamental Japanese maple, even holly bushes shaped just so. At the center of the garden you'll find a polished stone friendship monument dedicated to Funabashi, Hayward's sister city in Japan. A spin around the garden is a great way to, as the Japanese say, kachou fuugetsu — roughly meaning "to appreciate the beauties of nature." In doing so, you may learn something about yourself.
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