Japanese gardens have become so popular even outside of Japan that they can be found in all different parts of the world. Every garden might have its own style, but traditional Japanese gardens are built around a set of rules and basic elements. A “natural” look is an important aesthetic factor of Japanese gardens, and is achieved through asymmetry, simplicity, and odd numbers. Common elements found in these gardens are stone lanterns that represent the four elements of earth, fire, water, and wind; water, either real or symbolic; and moon bridges or stepping stones.
Japanese gardens date back to the 7th century. Their designs, which are still strongly connected to the philosophy and religion of the country, incorporate Shinto, Buddhism and Taoism. They were, and still are, meant to bring spirituality into a space where people can meditate and find peace. Here are 8 Japanese Gardens from different parts of the world that are not only stunning in their own right, but also a nod to the beauty of Japan’s culture.
8 Incredible Japanese Gardens
The Buenos Aires Japanese Gardens in Argentina is one of the largest Japanese gardens of its type outside of Japan. Also referred to as Jardín Japonés de Buenos Aires, the garden was constructed to replace a similar, smaller garden that had been demolished in a different location. Created by the Japanese Argentine Cultural Foundation, the garden combines elements of traditional Japanese gardens with complimenting plant species native to South America, such as tipa and floss silk trees. The garden has a central lake that is crossed by the Divine Bridge and the Truncated Bridge that leads to a Japanese medicinal herb garden island. The lake is surrounded by Japanese plants such as sakura, katsura, momiji and azalea (cherry blossom, cinnamon tree/Japanese Judas tree, maple tree, azalea). This expansive garden is also home to a Japanese Buddhist temple, a Japanese Peace Bell, and a number of stone lanterns and granite sculptures.
Address: Av. Casares 2966. CABA
The Japanese Garden in Singapore is located on an artificial island on Jurong Lake in Singapore. It’s also called Jurong Gardens or Seiwaen, and was inspired by Japan’s Muromachi period (1392-1568) and the subsequent Azuchi-Momoyama period (1568-1615). This Japanese Garden is connected to a neighboring Chinese Garden by a bridge called The Bridge of Double Beauty. The Japanese Garden was designed to evoke inner peace and meditation, while the Chinese Garden was designed to be visually stimulating. The Japanese Garden features a Turtle and Tortoise Museum, and is home to live koi and monitor lizards that roam the area. It also has a sundial representing the planet Venus, one of 10 sundials placed around Singapore to promote interest in science.
Address: 1 Chinese Garden, Singapore 619795
Of the 300 plus Japanese Gardens in North America, the Japanese Tea Garden in San Francisco, California is the oldest public Japanese Garden in the United States. It spans 5 acres in Golden Gate Park, and was first build in 1894 as part of the California Midwinter International Exposition for the World’s Fair. This garden takes inspiration from Buddhist and Shinto beliefs, which are reflected in the sculptures and structures on site. Other elements that contribute to the stunning garden are the Tea House, Treasure Tower Pagoda, Rock Garden, as well as the numerous plants and trees native to Japan and China.
Address: 75 Hagiwara Tea Garden Dr, San Francisco, CA 94102
This Japanese Garden is one of 21 different gardens of Hamilton Gardens that represent the art, beliefs, lifestyles and traditions of different civilizations. The gardens are grouped into different categories such as Paradise, Productive, Fantasy, Cultivar and Landscape, and the garden collections reflect these themes as well as the cultures of their home country. The Japanese Garden of Contemplation takes inspiration from the dry landscape, or karesansui, gardens of the Muromachi era. This “Zen garden” tests the bounds of traditional beauty with its composition of gravel, rocks, and a minimum of vegetation.
Address: Hungerford Crescent, Hamilton 3216, New Zealand
This garden combines elements from East Asia in a stunning and unusual exhibition of nature, tiles, lanterns, and sculptures. It was opened to the public in 1991, and houses one of Portugal’s most important tile collections. There’s a panel of 166 ceramic plates called “The Adventure of the Portuguese in Japan” that tells the story of the relationship between Portugal and Japan. Elements from Japanese gardens including temple guardian sculptures, stone lanterns, and a teahouse can also be found. There are also a lot of living elements in this garden including koi, swans, blackbirds and peacocks.
Address: Caminho do Monte, 174, 9050-288 Funchal, Portugal
This garden of extremely fragile plants is only open 8 weeks in the year. It is considered the “crown jewel of Clingendael Park.” It’s the only Japanese Garden in the Netherlands, according to The Hague’s website. The garden started taking shape from Marguérite M. Baroness van Brienen’s, aka Lady Daisy’s, sea voyages to Japan. It is said that she brought back lanterns, sculptures, a water cask, little bridges, and possibly the pavilion that decorate the garden. The vibrant green landscape is from the layers of moss that add another dimension to the garden.
Address: Clingendael 7, 2597 VH Den Haag, Netherlands
The Charlotte Partridge Ordway Japanese Garden in Como Park is a testament to the friendship between the cities of Saint Paul, Minnesota, and Nagasaki, Japan. The people of Saint Paul’s sister city gifted the garden’s design, created by Masami Matsuda, to the people of Saint Paul. Matsuda combined traditional Japanese design principles with elements local to Minnesota. The effect was a stunning garden that feels familiar but exotic at the same time.
Address: 1225 Estabrook Dr, St Paul, MN 55103
Like the Ordway Japanese Garden, the Cowra Japanese Garden was created to develop the relationship between the people of Cowra Shire and Japan. The Cowra Japanese Garden and Cultural Center is in Cowra, a region of New South Wales, Australia. It’s 12 acres of waterfalls, two lakes, a rocky hillside, and manicured hedges. It was designed in a kaiyū-shiki, or strolling garden, style of the Edo Period. The garden features a traditional Edo cottage, a Bonsho bell, an authentic open-air teahouse and a Bonsai house. A cherry blossom festival is held in the gardens each year, and a number of festivals, ceremonies, demonstrations and workshops related to Japanese culture take place on the grounds.
Address: Ken Nakajima Place, Cowra NSW, Australia
This article was written by Hanna Choi. Image by Oskar Vertetics.