Daily Life

The Secret Koi Pond of Downtown Walnut Creek

Strolling around downtown Walnut Creek while window shopping, hanging out at a fountain, or getting a bite to eat at a nearby restaurant, you might never realize that hiding within steps of this great shopping district is a koi pond so magnificent, yet so serene, it’s as if you stepped into a different world. These koi are HUGE by the way. You have to see it in person to see what I mean.

To get to the koi pond, go to the corner of N. Main St. and Mt. Diablo Blvd, where Tiffany’s is, and walk over to Va de Vi, the tapas style restaurant, and turn left as if you were going to go to the resturant. You’ll see a giant oak tree. Keep walking past the oak tree, and the koi pond will be a few steps beyond.

I had always wondered what the story was behind the koi pond, and finally found out that it was built by the developer of that block, called “The Corners”, Brian Hirahara, of BH Development (the company that was recently awarded the parking lot across the street), who turns out grew up in Walnut Creek. He emailed me a detailed explanation:

The origin of the koi started with the fact that I grew up
near the creek that runs by Oak Grove & Valley Vista, down the hill from Boundary Oak.  My brother and I and our friends used to spend countless hours exploring the creek, and there were even orange carp (less fancy versions of koi, which are fancy carp) that were trapped under the aqua-duct and we would try to catch them.  So this fascination with water / creeks / fish evolved into a tropical fish hobby growing up and much later the ponds / water features that have become a signature element of our projects.

The pond has been there since we developed the project, which was completed in 2003.  My office is right above Va de Vi, so the koi pond is my pet project and I feed them every day.  We also have 4 resident turtles in the pond, 3 of which are transplants.  Turtles apparently don’t make the best pets for kids at home, so people drop their unwanted turtles in our pond where they are pretty happy.  One is quite large in fact, and they are quite tame and will basically eat out of my had as will the koi.

Yes, the pond is absolutely open to the public, although we don’t encourage feeding since we feed them koi food and their digestive system basically shut down during the winter so it can be harmful or fatal for the koi if they are fed the wrong food.

Unfortunately, we’ve had to replace the koi 1.5 x, the first time due to a prank (some kids stole several of the koi and put them into the fountain across the street from the Chevron and killed them) and the 2nd time due to an equipment malfunction.  We’ve had to install security cameras to help with the vandalism.

As far as why we built the pond and added the koi, both of which are very expensive, it was to add unexpected life, charm, character, and authenticity to our project.  Nothing gives me more pleasure than watching kids run up to the pond to marvel at the huge koi, parents from around the area bring their kids to see the pond.  It provide a surprise peaceful break from the bustling downtown, an oasis in the middle of suburbia.

So please do yourself a favor and the next time you find yourself in downtown Walnut Creek, drop by the koi pond behind Va de Vi and enjoy the peaceful atmosphere while gazing at these beautiful creatures. Thanks to Brian for taking the time to explain the origins of this koi pond, as well as for installing and maintaining it for the public to enjoy.

Check out more photos of the koi pond after the jump