In Japanese culture, garden-making is high art, equal to the arts of calligraphy and ink painting. Japanese traditional gardens highlight the beauty of nature, avoiding artificial, man-made components wherever possible.
Japanese gardens speak of the unstoppable march of time, natural aspects of the Japanese landscape, such as its volcanic peaks, and often include replicas of the legendary Mount Horai. Mt. Horai is a Chinese mythical mountain island paradise lies out in the East China Sea.
The evolution of gardens can be roughly aligned with Japan's historical periods whose contemporary cultural and religious characteristics are reflected in the various garden types.
There are many notable Japanese gardens dated back to the Heian period (794 - 1185 AD), and while some of these garden types have disappeared over time, others live on today.
Fancy a garden or two to be a part of your next trip to Japan? We have handpicked the best three Japanese gardens. Here they are!
1. Adachi Museum of Art (Shimane)
Meticulously maintained, the relatively recently created garden at the Adachi Museum of Art near Matsue is almost surreal. It was founded by a successful businessman, Adachi Zenko as a way of combining his passions for Japanese art and garden design. The garden is selected as the best out of more than 800 Japanese gardens by ‘Journal of Japanese Gardening’ (Sukiya Living).
2. Tōfuku-ji (Kyoto)
Enjoy spectacular views all seasons from the quaint wooden Tsutenkyo Bridge that crosses the ravine. Particularly, in the autumn when the maples are a blaze of red, the sight is unforgettable. Adjacent to the temple, there is also a modern Japanese garden, designed by Mirei Shigemori, a notable modern Japanese landscape architect and historian of Japanese gardens.
2. Ritsurin Koen (Kagawa)
The recreational garden of the former local lords, it is the largest and one of the most beautiful strolling gardens in Japan, featuring ponds, tea pavilions, and walking trails. You can also enjoy a ride on a Japanese boat, just like a Japanese feudal lord back in the days.
Kuroko's Favourites: Gio-Ji (Kyoto)
A tranquil temple surrounded by trees and a luxuriant moss garden. The temple was named after Gio, a dancer from Kamakura period (1185 - 1573 AD) who fell in love with a powerful Samurai leader. When he ended their relationship, Gio retreated to this temple to spend the rest of her life as a Buddhist priestess. Wooden statues of the women and Kiyomori are enshrined in the main hall.
Strolling at a quiet and peaceful Japanese Garden is such a meditative experience. A great addition to your holiday to Japan.