Japanese gardens (日本庭園) in the ancient tradition of Japan can be found at private homes, in neighborhood or city parks, at Buddhist temples or Shinto shrines, and at historical landmarks such as old castles. Many of the Japanese gardens most famous in the West, and within Japan as well, are Zen gardens.
Typical Japanese gardens contain several of these elements, real or symbolic:
- An island
- A bridge to the island
- A lantern, typically of stone
- A teahouse or pavilion
Japanese gardens might fall into one of these styles:
- Strolling gardens, for viewing from a path
- Sitting gardens, for contemplating from one place
Many Zen temples feature a garden in the karesansui (or karesenzui, kosansui, kosensui 枯山水: dry landscape) style. These have no water, but typically evoke a feeling of water using pebbles. Rocks chosen for their intriguing shapes and patterns, mosses and low shrubs typify the karesansui style. The garden at Ryoan-ji, a temple in Kyoto, is particularly renowned.
Shakkei (借景), borrowed scenery, is a technique Japanese gardeners use to make a small garden seem more spacious. By judiciously planting shrubs to block the view of nearby structures, they encourage the viewer to look up toward the mountains, and to think of them as part of the garden.
Some of Japan's Famous Garden
Kyoto Imperial Palace The emperor's residence until 1868.
Nijo Castle Kyoto residence of the Tokugawa shogun.
Nanzenji Zen temple with beautiful stone garden.
Ryoanji Zen Temple most famous for its rock garden.
Daitokuji Large complex of Zen temples.
Katsura Villa Extremely beautiful imperial villa with garden.
Tenryuji Temple in the Arashiyama area.
Daigoji Famous temple in the southeast of Kyoto.
Byodoin Foremost example of a Heian Period Pure Land Garden.
Kenrokuen Japan's most famous landscape garden.
Takamatsu Ritsurin Koen Outstanding Japanese style landscape garden.
Korakuen Outstanding Japanese style landscape garden.
Rikugien Arguably Tokyo's best Japanese style garden.
Kokyo Higashi Gyoen, the East Garden of the Imperial Palace in Tokyo
Hama Rikyu Park Beautiful Japanese garden along Tokyo Bay.
Sankeien Beautiful, spacious Japanese garden.
Zuisenji Temple Zen temple famous for its gardens.
Kairakuen Famous for its three thousand plum trees.
Motsuji Temple famous for its Pure Land Garden.
Urakuen Garden with a celebrated teahouse.
Shukkeien A beautiful Japanese style garden.
Joeiji Temple Famous for the Zen garden Sesshutei.
Komyozenji Temple with a beautiful Zen garden.
Suizenji Koen Landscape garden that reproduces the Tokaido.
Senganen Japanese style landscape garden.
Part of the online magazine Nipponia, a quarterly magazine about modern Japan. Japanese Gardens is a multi-part feature on Japanese landscape gardening with articles titled: Restraint and Refinement - Beauty in the Japanese Garden, Creating Gardens, Small Oases in Big City. The feature explores the history and philosophy of landscape gardening in Japan as well as gardening in contemporary Japan.
JGuide (The Stanford Guide to Japan Information Resources) provides links to useful sites featuring Japanese gardening. No links to architectural sites are currently available