Japanese gardens offer visitors moments of respite from often drastically contrasting surrounding environments. In these thoughtful and thought-provoking landscapes which contain or share borders with architecturally notable buildings, visitors can enjoy spaces created for contemplation, recreation, and for simply just being.
Here is an introduction to a few of Japan's garden gems:
The Adachi Museum of Art was given the Best Garden Award in 2013 over 900 other scenic and historic sights throughout Japan for the 11th consecutive year by Sukiya Living Magazine /Journal of Japanese Gardening, a magazine for people to learn about and further their knowledge of Japanese gardens and gardening practices.
Sukiya Living Magazine's list of the Top Three 2013 Garden Awards:
1st Place: Adachi Museum of Art (Shimane Prefecture)
2nd Place: Katsura-Rikyu Garden (Kyoto Prefecture)
3rd Place: Yumura Tokiwa Hotel (Yamanishi Prefecture)
The Adachi Museum of Art was also given a 3-star ranking by the two most famous French travel guidebooks, Michelin Green Guide Japon, and Guide Bleu Japon. Both books recommend the gardens as "must-sees".
One of the famous Three Great Gardens of Japan, this site is noted for the three sets of complementary pairs of qualities thought to make a garden a sublime work of art. The garden in winter seems set in crystal, with the still pond reflecting the magnificent pine and the stone lantern dusted with snow.
Another of the Three Great Gardens of Japan. Completed in 1700, it has been designated a Special Scenic Location. Karakuen is adjacent to Okayama Castle, which peeks benevolently and magnificently above the trees, and is a striking part of the entire garden landscape.
The third of the Three Great Gardens of Japan, Kairakuen triumphantly re-opened in February 2012 after undergoing repairs for damage suffered in the Great Eastern Japan Earthquake. This garden was built for enjoyment of both the ruling class and the general public, as opposed to the other two Great Gardens. It is known for its bounty of plum trees; nearly 100 different types. They bloom in early spring, captivating visitors with a preponderance of blossoms.
One of the most striking gardens in Japan is located on the island of Shikoku. Construction began in the early 1600s, and it opened to the public about 100 years later. In 1953, it was dedicated a Special Place of Scenic Beauty. Set against the backdrop of Mt. Shiun, the garden is made up of 6 ponds and 13 hills.
This dry landscape is said to be the finest example of a Japanese rock garden. Ryoan-ji Temple is listed as one of the Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto and as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Aside from the rock garden, for which it is best known, and which continues to be subject to numerous interpretations and analyses, Ryoan-ji also has a water garden.
One of the most convenient ways to enjoy the beauty of these and other Japanese gardens is to contact private tour companies who will handle all arrangements. Here are two: