Need a retirement project? Follow the example of Isamu Taniguchi.
From the Wakayama Prefecture near Osaka, Japan, Taniguchi had studied botany, agriculture and bonzai grafting before immigrating to California. Interned along with 120,000 other Japanese Americans during World War II, he landed in the Rio Grande Valley and stayed to grow cotton and vegetables.
He retired to Austin in 1967 to join his son, Alan Taniguchi, an architecture professor at the University of Texas and a civic leader whose ideas helped shape downtown.
As a gift to his host city, the 70-year-old man personally carved a Japanese garden — with little assistance and no pay — out of the tough limestone of Zilker Park. It opened in 1969 inside Zilker Botanical Gardens.
Before his death in 1992, he oversaw the retreat's growth and expansion.
A meditative maze of trails, bridges and ponds amid mostly indigenous plants and stones, the garden that bears Taniguchi's name includes a Japanese tea house given by an orchid society and a friendship gate from Austin's sister city of Oita, Japan.
If you are fond of delicate Japanese maples, go there in the fall, when they shimmer.