I spent a hot, steamy, schmoggy filled LA morning fighting July 3 traffic to wind my way up to the Griffith Park Observatory in search of the recently placed Japanese style teahouse in the canyons. Happy my friend cut and paste the directions onto his phone because the 4th set of directions went along the lines of “Stop when the 5 dirt paths converge, take the right skinny trail above the straight trail, then turn left where you see the water fountain.” Well, after many reads, I knew that there would be other curious Angelenos out, so it wouldn’t be a problem if we got lost.
From the parking lot, we headed to the left to pick up the trail meandering up, up, up the dusty dry earth, jumping to and fro, stopping to chat with older couples and other characters who actually read or heard about this newly erected little gem in LA. I was on a mission to find the teahouse. Only a few days old, and a petition had been created since the city threatened to tear it down.
As my friend spotted the fountain, which I would have never seen, we gazed at the Hollywood sign to our left and scanned the entire backdrop to view the little teahouse. Finally, I spotted it just to the left and off we scampered like giddy schoolchildren. I was already feeling disappointed because there were too many people on the trails and hovering like bees around my hopeful Zen experience. I just had to imagine it was quiet and no one was around. I suggest getting up really early or going at dusk, in hopes that you may have this little sanctuary to yourself.
Just like the little teahouse Shinto-shrine style I marveled at in Japan, this Hollywood version was crafted from the redwoods from the 2007 Griffith Park fire. Apparently the artists installed this 80-square-foot structure last Monday night, carrying the prefabricated pieces and bolting them to an existing concrete foundation. The singed, fallen wood from the fire frames the door in a rustic-beautiful fashion. Notice the slat roof, the perfectly placed windows to frame the city and mountains, and the relief carving of a griffin in the eaves—part red-tailed hawk, part Griffith Park mountain lion. I love this city.
Once you make your wish to LA, write a love letter, or share a memory, you ring the bell. I secretly wanted a to be greeted with green tea and told to sit down with my Japanese robe.
The views of the Verdugos, the San Gabriels (and the 5 Freeway) are worth this hike, but mainly the sentiments. “Thinking of you Chris. I know how much you loved to hike. Love, Mom” was the first wood card I read hanging by its nail to the entrance to the shrine. I already choked up after one post.
I continued to read countless wishes of Angelenos and their love for LA. While I was trying to meditate, I had no idea my guy friend was schwigging beers with his new friend off to the side.
On the wood bench, it reads “….the teahouse is a love letter to Los Angeles and a quiet perch for urban reflection. In homage to the fire, the timbers were lightly charred before assembly.” My favorite handwritten plaque sums up the reason we decided to create LaLaScoop.
“We hope Los Angeles brings you as much joy as it has brought us.”
Hopefully this map will get you there.
What wishes will you swirl up into the city?
All photos courtesy of Melissa Curtin.