Get a glimpse...
into Japan's culture through its gardens.
There are different types of Japanese gardens, each uniquely beautiful and tranquil. The gardens of emperors and nobles were designed for recreation, while the gardens of Buddhist temples were designed for contemplation and meditation- or zen. Below is a guide to some of the most notable Japanese gardens.
The three most significant gardens:
Ishikawa prefecture, Kanazawa city
One of Japan's Three Great Gardens, Kenrokuen is worth a visit. With about 8,750 trees, and 183 species of plants in total, as well as the oldest fountain in Japan, it is a peaceful example of the beauty of Japanese gardens in all seasons.
In winter, the park is notable for its yukitsuri — ropes attached in a conical array to carefully support tree branches, which protects them from snow damage and gives the garden a unique look.
Okayama prefecture, Okayama city
Kourakuen was built in 1700.
The garden is located on the north bank of the Aashi River in Okayama City. The garden was designed in the Kaiyu, which focuses on scenic views, so visitors can expect a new view from every turn and vantage point in the garden.
Ibaraki prefecture, Mito city
Built in 1841, this garden has been open to the public from its inception. Kairakuen is at its most beautiful during plum blossom season in February and early March. There is a plum tree forest with over one hundred varieties of plum trees, as well as a bamboo grove, cedar woods, and a traditional Japanese building called the Kobuntei.
Other famous gardens
The garden in the Adachi Museum of Art is just as impressive as the paintings and exhibits, and helps visitors to the museum connect with nature.
Photo Copyright: ©Adachi Museum of Art
This garden was built back between 1894 and 1898 by political and military leader, Yamagata Aritomo. The garden includes lighting contrasts with both shady areas and open sunlit areas.
Located in central Tokyo, this garden becomes enveloped with cherry blossoms in the spring, and azaleas in the summer.
This garden also has a tea house and a traditional Japanese restaurant.
[Kagawa Prefecture, Takamatsu City]
Ritsurin has a tea house, the Sanuki Folk Craft Museum, with various folk art and crafts for sale, in addition to the garden.
The garden itself is made up of bridges, footpaths, ponds, hills, and lush trees.
Part of the Kodaiji Temple complex in Kyoto, this garden is famous for its beautiful maple trees. It was built by Toyotomi Hideyoshi's wife, to mourn for her husband's death in 1605.
This garden just outside of Kumamoto City has a great walking path that circles the garden grounds. The garden is interesting in that it recreates the Tokaido Road, the route that connected Edo to Kyoto, even including a smaller-scale replica of Mount Fuji.
(Photo Copyright: ©Yasufumi Nishi/©JNTO)
Built in 1916, this garden consists of both the beauty of nature and the gardening techniques considered to be the best at the time.
Built in 1620, this garden displays the many features of a traditional Japanese garden. It was once destroyed by the nuclear bomb during WWII, but was rebuilt by the year 1970. It is located next to the Hiroshima Prefectural Art Museum.
Astounding cherry blossoms in the spring, fire-red maple trees in the fall. Originally built as an imperial garden, you can experience all seasons of nature even when located in the middle of the bustling city.
This garden, adjacent to Tokyo Dome City, is one of the oldest preserved gardens of the Edo period. Both history and culture are well preserved.
Photo copyright: ©Yasufumi Nishi/©JNTO