San Mateo’s Japanese garden slated for refurbishing

Arguably the most-loved spot in San Mateo’s Central Park will get its first major renovation in more than 40 years this year.

The city is planning roughly $600,000 worth of renovations to the Japanese Garden, a charming, fenced-in oasis of tranquility that draws people for photo opportunities, quiet appreciation and at least 21 weddings last year alone. Designed by former Tokyo Imperial Palace garden director Nagao Sakurai in 1964, the garden hasn’t had major work since, San Mateo Parks and Recreation Department officials said.

Project plans include a new pathway surface, signs, irrigation system, signage and security system. The latter is particularly needed, Parks spokesman Ronald Mason said.

“We still have people who will break in. We’ve had items stolen from there, like lanterns that were donated from our sister city [Toyonaka],” Mason said, adding that people have speared the pond’s koi fish.

The old security system also had a tendency to go off if a squirrel crossed the laser beams, he added.

A new, partially screened meditation area will have to wait until more funds become available, he said. But the park will get night lighting to enable evening weddings and other private functions.

The park was ranked the 14th most beautiful Japanese garden in America in 2005 by the Journal of Japanese Gardens.

The Fifth Avenue entrance to Central Park is also scheduled for an upgrade, with repainting and new landscaping and lighting. Those plans are budgeted for a total $355,500, city records indicate.

kwilliamson@examiner.com

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