“When you increase the number of gardens, you increase the number of heavens too!”
― Mehmet Murat ildan
This quote of Contemporary Turkish novelist Mehmet Murat ildan perfectly fits Japan.
Japan is a paradise for garden lovers. There are many exquisitely stunning gardens all over Japan. ‘Great appreciation towards nature’s simplicity’ is the centering thought of Japanese culture and philosophy. One can find this appreciation in every aspect of Japanese life; be it Japanese religion, cuisine, architecture or festivals. Nature’s beauty is inevitable part of Japanese aesthetics. And Japanese gardens are no exception to that.
Flowing water, Ponds full of Koi fish, Rocks and graceful gravel, Green landscapes, arch bridges and islands are the characteristics of Japanese gardens. They provide tranquil environments. These gardens are also famous for meticulous detailing. Stone, water and trees are considered three main elements of Japanese gardens. Mostly all Japanese garden designs are based on the principles of asymmetry, enclosure, borrowed scenery, balance and symbolism. The art of Japanese Garden dates back to 7th century. Japanese gardens have evolved into a variety of styles with different purposes but they were mainly designed for aesthetic pleasure, recreation and for contemplation and meditation.
This country is full of elegantly designed gardens. No matter which part of the country you visit, you will surely find one of these enormously enchanting heavens on earth.
If you are planning to visit Japan do make a point to visit at least one of these mesmerizingly beautiful gardens. So here goes the list……..
Kenrokuen is one of Japans three most beautiful gardens. Other two are Kairaku-en in the city of Mito and Koraku-en in the city of Okayama. It is located in Kanazawa, Ishikawa, Japan. ‘Kenrokuen’ means ‘a garden combining the six attributes of a perfect garden and that are spaciousness, serenity, venerability, scenic views, subtle design, and coolness. It is spread on 11.4 hectares and is located next to Kanazawa Castle. Kenrokuen is like a collection of multiple extraordinary gardens with hills, groves, trees, flowers, ponds and tea houses. It also has the oldest fountain in Japan, which operates by natural water pressure. Kenrokuen is star of all seasons!! It has abundant beauty to offer in each season. Cherry blossoms in spring, colorful red and yellow leaves in autumn and snow-covered landscape with yukitsuri (literally means snow hanging) in winter.
2.Adachi Museum of art Garden
Adachi Museum and garden was established in 1970 in Yasugi city, Shimane. This is a collection of 6 picturesque gardens that includes the Karesansui Garden, the Garden of White Sand and Green Pine, the Moss Garden and the Pond Garden. Adachi Museum of art Garden has been ranked as number one for 12 consecutive years, by the Journal of Japanese Gardening.
If you are in search of inner peace and looking for some meditative experience Ryoan-ji is the place .It is the most famous Zen garden of Japan. This dry garden is surprisingly small and it has 15 large stones placed inside 248 square meters of polished white gravel. And the mystery element is no one can see these 15 stones at the same time. It is believed that attaining enlightenment is the only way one can see all the 15 stones simultaneously. Interesting isn’t it? Visit and give it a try, see if you can! This garden has very calming properties. So if you want to relax and rejuvenate with this meditative experiences don’t forget to visit early morning as there will be less crowed.
4.Katsura Imperial Villa Garden
This garden is considered a paragon of Japanese gardening. The garden has a huge influence of Japanese classic “Tale of the Genji”. This garden is basically a stroll garden with specious ponds. This garden is designed by Japan’s most famous gardener Mr.Koboei and it provides spectacular scenic views with every step. Epitome of perfection with harmony. This garden is situated in western Kyoto.
Korakuen is situated in Okayama and also rated one of Japan’s three most beautiful gardens. It stands next to Okayama Castle and it had been used for the entertainment of guests and feudal elites. Koraku-en means ‘garden of pleasure’. With other typical characteristics of Japanese garden koraku-en has expansive lawns which is a rather unique feature.The ambience is very peaceful and relaxing.
As its name suggests “Kairakuen” is a garden to enjoy with people. Situated in Mito City, Ibaraki Prefecture, it is regarded as one of the three most beautiful gardens in Japan. Kairakuen is famous for its ume or plum flowers; there are about 3,000 trees of over 100 species of plum trees cover half of the site. It looks magnificent during the plum blossom season; plum blossom usually takes place in late February and March.
Ritsurin Garden is a beautiful garden located in Takamatsu city, Kagawa Prefecture, Japan. This garden is considered one of the most famous historical gardens in Japan. Its scenic beauty and tranquility makes people think that Ritsurin Koen deserves a spot on the list of the “three most beautiful gardens of Japan” alongside Kanazawa’s Kenrokuen, Mito’s Kairakuen and Okayama’s Korakuen. With as many as 1,400 pine trees cultivated here, this garden is also celebrated as Japan’s foremost pine tree garden. As you enter Ritsurin Garden, you instantly feel as if you are in edo period. Mt.Shiun provides a magnificent background to this garden and a perfect example of ‘borrowed scenery.’ There are 6 ponds in the garden and boat ride here is a true pleasure, so don’t miss it.
This garden situated in Yokohama is a perfect piece of tranquility. This garden also has a historical significance as there are many old buildings of high historical heritage value mainly from Kyoto and Kamakura, skillfully arranged in harmony with the seasonal changes of the natural scenery.These historic monuments add enormous charm to the beauty of this garden.
An idyllic garden in the heart of the busiest city. A beautiful natural escape from urban Tokyo. The garden is showcase of Japan’s most celebrated vistas and one of two surviving Edo period clan gardens in modern Tokyo. It was built around 1629. Koishikawa Korakuen is pleasant and beautiful all year around but I feel it is especially attractive during the fall colures.
This garden is situated in Kagoshima,Kyushu, Japan. It is harmonious amalgamation of Japanese and Chinese architecture and gardening aesthetics. Mt. Sakurajima and Kagoshima Bay have been beautifully used as borrowed scenery in this engaging landscape garden. Sengan-en provides one of the best views of the active volcano Mt. Sakurajima. Sakurajima is a safe volcanic mountain but has minor eruptions regularly. Mt. Sakurajima at the backdrop of the garden landscape is indeed a picturesque view.
No matter which garden you choose to visit from the list, they all ensure a delightful, soothing and engrossing experience. These gardens will surely make you fall in love with the harmony of nature’s serene beauty and Japanese aesthetics. Enjoy the beauty and solace. Enjoy the experience!