LA Fridays with Bob and Tom: The Japanese Garden

LA Fridays with Bob and Tom

 Week 34. The Japanese Garden

This week we visit the meditative oasis, "The Japanese Garden," nestled in the heart of San Fernando Valley.  Its Japanese name is Suiho-En meaning “Garden of Water and Fragrance.” The garden is located at 6100 Woodley Ave., Van Nuys, California 91406 adjacent to the Donald Tilman Water Reclamation Plant.  As one enters the Garden there is a Zen meditation dry garden featuring "Tortoise Island," a “three Buddha” stone arrangement and a wisteria viewing arbor.  Next, there is an expansive stroll garden with waterfalls, lakes and streams, abundant greenery and stone lanterns carved by artisans in Japan, and the Shoin Building with a contiguous teahouse and adjacent tea garden.

The uniqueness of this garden is that it is authentic in every detail.  The water features diving birds and white herons swimming gracefully, your companions as you stroll the garden paths among the floral and weeping willow trees.  The exquisite design of The Japanese Garden allows us to focus on the simple and beautiful in nature and our lives.  A peaceful get away from the stress and pressures of everyday life. 

We think this venture is a “must.”  It’s a perfect place for photos, sketching and painting.


Robert (Bob) is a PhD physicist whose career has spanned academia, government and private industry. As a faculty member of the Department of Physics at the University of Tennessee, a Branch Chief at the United States Department of Energy and Vice President of an American International Group Company, his scientific endeavors include radiation physics, environmental research, environmental insurance and nanotechnology.

Originally from the East Coast, Bob was seduced by his sons and their families (and the California weather) to leave Washington, DC after retiring in 2010. While recovering from culture shock, Bob found many outlets to reconcile his eclectic interests. As a member of Senior Scholars for over six years he continues to take courses in a myriad of subjects ranging from film to art history to brain science and finds great intellectual and social rewards in Senior Scholars and the Plato Society.

As a latent artist, he sketches scenes about town once a week with an artist friend from his college days and is attempting to learn to play the electric guitar.

On moving to Los Angeles, he found Tom Jacobson, another recent transplant. They became great friends and decided to explore their new town together leading to over 113 sites in our city. Dubbed “LA Fridays with Bob and Tom” they are happy to share their experiences with others.

Bob lives in Brentwood with Phyllis, his wife of 56 years, an education policy executive. They have two sons and four grandchildren, one of whom plays a guitar a lot better than Bob.



Thomas (Tom) is an attorney who practiced trial and constitutional law in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Born in 1938 in Bamberg Germany, he was one of the youngest passengers on the ill-fated voyage of the Damned, the SS St. Louis, turned away from Cuba in 1939.

Tom represented local civil rights activists and Dick Gregory and twice argued cases successfully in the United States Supreme Court. In 1970 he was the Democratic candidate for Wisconsin Attorney General.

Retiring in 2008, he and wife, Peggy, moved to California to join their two sons and four grandchildren, and enjoy the warm weather.

Tom has kept busy as a member of Senior Scholars and Plato for the last six years keeping his brain stimulated and active. Yoga and swimming have kept his body in shape.




Week 30:  Jeffery Deitch Gallery, Judy Chicago