Japan’s gardens are famous worldwide. Kyoto alone boasts hundreds of them. There is a variety of distinct styles: tea gardens, courtyard gardens, “dry landscape” type stone gardens, gardens that are designed to be viewed just from a room, and gardens made for strolling. Today, I’ll be presenting a variety of landscape gardens from all over the country. Let us start in Tokyo. The two topmost pictures are from the East Gardens of the Imperial Palace, which is especially stunning during the Azalea bloom in May.Another Tokyo gem is the Koishikawa Korakuen which imitates several different natural landscapes.
The third in the list of the great Tokyo landscape gardens is the Hamarikyu Garden which straddles the bay with the skyline of the modern Shiodome district rising up steeply from behind it. Its plum grove is worth a visit in early spring.
The Kenrokuen in Kanazawa counts as the best landscape garden of Japan. It is vast and very varied, almost overwhelming. It has a number of very impressive pine trees. The other two famous landscape gardens that form the top three of Japan together with the Kenrokuen are the Korakuen in Okayama and the Kairakuen in Mito, neither of which I have been able to visit yet. The Isuien in Nara is a bit of a hidden gem which risks to be left out next to Nara’s main attractions. It is really lovely, though. It beautifully incorporates the gate of Todai-ji into its design. Kyoto is full of stunning gardens which would deserve an entire series of posts. Both the Golden and the Silver Pavilions have gorgeous landscape gardens, and also the garden of the Heian Shrine is beautiful. Here, I am presenting a picture of the garden of Eikando in autumn. Another beautiful example is the garden of Tenryuji in Kyoto’s Arashiyama district. It exemplifies the design concept of the borrowed landscape or shakkei in which the surrounding hills are an integral part of the garden design and make the garden blend and seemingly extend into its surroundings. As a last example, Tenshaen in Uwajima on Shikoku. As also seen in many of the pictures here, a pond with a bridge-like structure are key elements of the design.
The landscape gardens featured in this post are of course far from forming an exhaustive list. Gardens are among the most charming attractions of Japan and I can’t wait to see more of them.