Kyoto represents more of the ancient customs and traditions of Japan. It is a city of unique architectural structures blended seamlessly with contemporary style. With many original shrines and temples still in tact, Kyoto's history attracts millions of visitors every year.
Many Japanese people view gardens as a means of expressing peace and tranquility through the fine art of landscaping. Ponds full of colorful koi fish, bubbling streams, boulders, trees, and flowers are all chosen and placed with meticulous detail. The art of the Japanese garden dates back to the 1500's when the feudal elite placed particular emphasis on the worshipping the aesthetics of nature. Moon-viewing, haiku-writing, and tea ceremonies were commonly held in the ornate and illustrious gardens on castle grounds constructed by famous master gardeners of the time, including Sen no Rikyu and Enshu Kobori.
Kenroku-en in Kanazwa, Ritsurin Koen in Takamatsu, and Koraku-en in Okayama are some of the most celebrated gardens in Japanese history. Koraku-en in particular is widely known for being the largest and most beautiful garden as its artificial hills, ponds, buildings and flowers took 14 years to complete.
In Japan's old capital of Kyoto visitors will find Ryoanji Temple, Japans most famous Zen rock garden which Smithsonian chose as one of the "28 places in the world that one must see before one dies" in 2008. Constructed in the 15th century, the flawlessly manicured bed of white pebbles serves as a foundation for 15 boulders with beautiful green moss. Maintaining and even looking at a Zen garden is said to have very calming properties, which is why many visitors flock to Ryoanji to feel mentally sound and relaxed.
While the art of the Japanese garden is a centuries-old tradition, their formation is still practiced today. In the city of Yasugi in the Shimane Prefecture, visit the Adachi Museum to find beautiful contemporary art accompanied by a viewing window of the adjacent garden. Visit the museum to see why the Journal of Japanese Gardening named it the #1 Japanese Garden for 6 consecutive years. As a world leader in environmentally friendly innovations, Japan attracts thousands of visitors each year to the solar-powered Imperial Garden, a rooftop garden at the top of legendary Tokyo landmark, the 115-year-old Imperial Hotel. The garden features a solar-powered illumination system on the roof of the 17-story building, using its energy to light up 530 square meters of landscape. These environmentally conscious constructions render Japan among the top nations moving forward in the effort to live more "green." Also in Tokyo you may find Rikugien Garden, one of the city's most notable gardens, features a dazzling pond with foliage that turns bright crimson in the autumn months.
No matter what time of year you visit Japan, the gardens will be teeming with picturesque landscaping that will assuredly give you a more profound appreciation for all the nature the land has to offer.
More beautiful Zen gardens for you to discover: Kairaku-en, Katsura Imperial Villa