One of the most beautiful things in Japan is its traditional gardens full of elements that provide an enriching, peaceful and harmonious experience. In this article, we will talk about the Japanese Garden, its elements and the most popular in Japan.
This article is probably going to be a giant one, so let’s post a summary to help you navigate the topic you’re interested in reading:
How is a Japanese garden?
The traditional gardens from Japan are called teien [庭園] which can also mean park. A Japanese garden can often be called a park or end with en [園] or a variation. Especially because most of the traditional gardens of Japan tend to be part of a park, temple, palace, hotel, village and even ryokan.
It is interesting to see that both the ideogram niwa [庭] how sono [園] means garden or park.
Many of Japan's traditional gardens were founded in the Edo era, during a period of peace that involved several tea parties and ceremonies. These gardens are highly exclusive and involve arts and aesthetics from Japan, China and the West.
The elements of a Japanese Garden
Have you ever wondered what makes a Japanese garden different from a park or a western garden? There are elements that identify a Japanese garden, these elements are:
Water - Every Japanese garden must at least have a lake, river, well, waterfall or stream. Water symbolizes the cycle of life, birth and death.
Carp - You cannot have a pond in the Japanese garden without the presence of carp. Carp symbolize luck, prosperity and persistence.
Stones - The stones complement the rivers and lakes, often large stones are found in the middle of the lake as a path or on the side. Some stones even become divinities of Shinto.
Sand and Gravel - Gravel is often used to designate sacred lands. They can also be used to make paths that represent the evolution of human beings throughout life.
Flashlights - Flashlights or japanese light fixtures they don't just light up the gardens at night. They contrast with the natural elements of the garden and also signify the 5 elements in Buddhism.
Bridges - Every Japanese garden needs at least one wooden bridge to relax, enjoy the beauty and see the carp. Bridges can also symbolize the transition from mortal to sacred.
Plants - Every garden needs plants, in Japan you can't miss one bonsai or a lotus flower that is quite iconic in Japan. Trees that bloom in the spring and turn red in the fall are one of the garden's great highlights.
Tokyo’s Best Japanese Gardens
Tokyo is the main destination for tourists, and even though it is a technological city, you will find several famous and beautiful gardens. Some are even free, others charge a very low entry fee.
Shinjuku Gyoen - In Shinjuku and Shibuya
The Shinjuku Gyoen is actually a park commissioned by the Emperor in 1906. In this park you will find a Japanese garden, an English garden and a French garden. Visiting this park you kill 3 birds with one stone.
Koishikawa Korakuen - In Koishikawa, Bunkyo
This romantic Japanese garden was made in 1629 in the center of Tokyo. No Koishikawa Korakuen you find cherry blossoms, plum blossoms, iris, pines, bamboo and rice paddies. The garden has about 3000 trees and is considered the best in the fall.
It is right in the center of Tokyo next to the Tokyo Dome which is a great tourist spot full of shops and an amusement park. I had the opportunity to visit this park, it is really beautiful in the autumn.
Rikugien Garden - In Bunkyo
A traditional garden founded in 1695 by order of the Shogun Tokugawa Tsunayoshi. This garden helped to produce 88 classic poems. The Rikugien Gardem offers many seasonal plants and trees such as Sakura, in addition to frequently being open 2 tea houses to the public.
Hamarikyu Garden - Chuo
Hamarikyu is a Japanese garden located in the center of Tokyo, which was founded by a Shogun in the 17th century. The garden is popular for its central location and stunning fields of flowers that are occasionally lit during the night.
Sankeien Garden, Yokohama
Next to Tokyo, you find the 43-hectare Sankeien Garden in southern Yokohama. It was built by a wealthy merchant in the early 20th century.
The garden features famous buildings that have been relocated from locations across Japan. It is a unique chance to see different styles of architecture in a single garden.
Tokyo Imperial Palace Garden
There is a large park next to the Imperial Palace that houses the ruins of the Castle of Edo and several gardens. The gardens have a wide variety of trees that have been donated by each province in Japan. There is also an exclusive garden that is only open to the public once a year.
The Best Japanese Gardens in Kansai
The Kansai region is another highlight. In this region you can quickly move between the cities of Kyoto, Osaka and Nara. There are some gardens in this region that are worth commenting on.
Sento Imperial Palace, Kyoto
The Japanese Garden Kyoto Imperial Palace known as "Sento”Has a lake with 2 tea houses that was built for the emperor Go-Mizunoo in 1630. In this garden there used to be a palace that was set on fire in 1854 and was never built again. This Garden is next to the park of the imperial palace and has been bringing a unique experience.
Isuien Garden, Nara
A walking garden in Nara park that uses a borrowed backdrop in its design. It is considered a classic example of shakkei, a method of capturing living nature.
Yoshikien Jardim Restaurant Reviews, Nara
A garden in Nara Park, which was once part of the residence of the high priest of the Kofukuji temple. The Yoshikien Garden offers a small tea house, a moss garden and a pond. The garden is in a quiet location in a tourist area that offers free entry to foreign tourists.
Kokedera - The temple of mosses
Kokedera is the Temple of the Mosses which is located in Kyoto, it has a garden with more than 120 different varieties of mosses. Temple visitors can walk through this spectacular garden.
Heian shrine garden
The garden of the Heian sanctuary is surrounded by buildings that partially recreate the Heian Palace, the Emperor's home from 794 to 1227. The garden has rare species of turtles.
The best Gardens and parks around Japan.
Now that we see the best gardens in Tokyo and the Kyoto region, let's see some famous gardens and parks spread across Japan. If you are passing through any of these places, it is worth visiting.
Kokuei Hitachi - Hitachinaka, Ibaraki
The park Kokuei Hitachie it is a large park with hills full of flowers. The park has dozens of varieties of flowers and plants designed so that there is always something in the seasons. It also offers a number of playgrounds and small themed gardens.
Ashikaga Flower Park
Ashikaga Flower Park is a garden located in Ashikaga-Tochigi, known for its large wisteria vines that have been suspended since 1870. There are more than 20 hectares with wisteria, azaleas, hydrangeas, lilies and many other flowers.
Kokoen Garden, Himeji
Kokoen Garden is one of the largest and most ambitious Japanese gardens built in the last 50 years. It is a collection of nine Edo-style gardens that span 3.5 hectares and is close Himeji Castle. The garden has beautiful waterfalls and its waters look like a mirror.
Adachi Museum of Art
It was founded by Adachi Zenko in 1980 as a way to combine his passions for Japanese art and gardens. He hoped that visiting gardens and works of art together would expand the appreciation and interest in Japanese art. The Adachi Museum of Art is best known for its award-winning garden. It was already named the best garden in Japan in 2003.
Ritsurin is one of the most famous historical gardens in Japan. The garden is located in the city of Takamatsu and is considered to be one of its main attractions. The garden contains a tea house, exhibitions and sale of art and crafts. The walk through the garden usually takes one to two hours. There are several bridges, paths and small hills that offer a beautiful view of the garden and the surrounding countryside.
Kenrokuen is a large garden with Japan's oldest water system, which operates using natural water pressure. The garden took 200 years to complete. It is designed to change with the seasons. It is one of the most attractive gardens when it is covered with snow.
A building in Fukuoka designed with 15 floors of hanging garden. It is possible to walk through the garden from an observation deck at the top of the building. The garden has 50,000 plants of 120 species. Inside the building is a large atrium.
Hokudai Botanical Garden - Sapporo
Hokudai is the University of Hokkaido, which has its own botanical garden in the center of the city. The botanical garden of the city of Sapporofo was founded in 1886. The garden has more than 4000 species of plants and a variety of historic buildings. The gardens also have greenhouses and a Natural History Museum full of odds and ends that the University of Hokkaido has collected over the years.
Ohori Park, Fukuoka
A large park in the city of Fukouka designed according to the principles of Chinese gardening. Its main feature is a large lagoon that was part of the moat of the Fukuoka Castle.
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