The Japanese garden is well known for a refined subtlety, the careful use of limited space,
and their high artistic value. There are a number of styles, the most well-known of which is the
karesansui, or dry garden. There are also other styles, such as the chaniwa (tea garden),
tsukiyama landscape gardens, bonsai (miniature trees or gardens in containers). etc.
Tsukiyama landscape gardens try to increase perceived space by blocking the view
of surrounding buildings and by using distant landscape objects like mountains as
part of the visual presentation. Kansho gardens are designed to be viewed
 from a single spot (such as from a veranda, a house, or a zen temple),
Kaiyu strolling gardens, such as chisen-kaiyu-shiki (hill and pond
strolling garden) are designed to be walked around. Gardens
can be formal (shin), rustic (so), or intermediate (gyo).

For this page, I have used 52 images of gardens
(I have included some flower images as well).
I tried to include some of each type, but
I did only shoot a few of the large
number of gardens in Japan.
Some of the images are
from other pages.

Many of the garden images are very highly detailed,
and some of the large version images can exceed 500kb.

As always, click an image for a larger version,
and use your back button to return to this page.


Images in this section are in a number of different Galleries on the Photoshelter website.
The Banner below leads to the Japan Collections page where a Gallery can be selected.


There are 21 Galleries in the Photoshelter Japan Collection


Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Peony Garden

On the far side of the pei pond at Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine in Kamakura is a
peony garden, a small strolling garden that follows the pond’s edge. The peony
garden was opened in 1980 to commemorate the 800th anniversary of the
founding of the Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine. There are 200 species
and over 2000 peony plants blooming from mid-April to late May.


Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Peony Garden 0674


Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Peony 0657


Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Peony 0663


Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Peony 0667


Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Peony 0673


Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Peony 0670


Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Peony 0682


Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Peony 0662


While we’re in Kamakura, Hasedera Temple has a pond and garden just inside the entrance.
My primary reason for being at Hasedera was to visit the temple (see the Kamakura One page),
but while I was there I did take the opportunity to get a few shots of the pond and some flowers.


Hasedera Garden Pond 0718


Hasedera Rhododendron 0721


Hasedera Rhododendron 0719


Kamakura Kobai Plum 1028

The Kobai Plum above right was shot late in the afternoon as I was walking back to the
train station after shooting at Kenchoji. It was in a little open space between two houses.


Mountain Peony 0729

This beautifully subtle little ground-hugging mountain peony really drew my attention.

(dry landscape gardens)

Karesansui dry landscape gardens were originally established at Zen Temples.
They can be very abstract, or they can be designed specifically to evoke a specific image.
A famous sand garden is at Ginkakuji, the Silver Pavilion at the start of the Philosopher’s Path in Kyoto.


Ginkakuji Ginshadan 9653
(Ginshadan, or Sea of Silver Sand)

The Sand Garden is designed to reflect the sun and moonlight onto the ceiling of Ginkakuji.
The pattern is intended to represent the sea in areas where the wind and current is strong.

gin = silver;   sha = sand;   dan = nada = sea with strong wind and rapid current.


Ginkakuji Ginshadan 9656

Ginkaku is in the background right, and in front of the
 pavilion is the Kogetsudai (moon viewing podium).
This two meter high truncated cone of sand is
designed to be a representation of Mt. Fuji.


Ginkakuji 9657

Kinkyo-chi (Brocade Mirror) pond, Ginkaku at right.
There are two small islands (Crane and Turtle Islands)
both symbols of longevity. Each of the rocks has a name.
The large stone in the center is “Ecstatic Contemplation”.


Daitokuji Isshidan 9284

Isshidan garden with Kame-jima (turtle island). The rocks in the center rear are Horai-san, the
mountain where spiritually awakened people live. The rocks at the far right are Crane (tsuru) Island.
A different view angle of Isshidan can be seen by clicking this link: Daitokuji Isshidan 9283.

Ryogen-in’s Isshidan was designed by Katsudo to replace an ancient tree that died in 1980.
Ryogen-in is a subtemple of Daitokuji in Kyoto. It also has Japan’s smallest rock garden.


Ryogen-in Rock Garden 9297

Totekiko is Japan’s smallest Rock Garden. It’s about 15 feet long x 4 feet wide.
It was laid out by Nabeshima Gakusho in 1958, and is an example of the style called
tsubo-niwa (a small enclosed garden composed of rocks placed on raked sand).

Return to the top of this page


Images in this section are in a number of different Galleries on the Photoshelter website.
The Banner below leads to the Japan Collections page where a Gallery can be selected.


There are 21 Galleries in the Photoshelter Japan Collection


Ninomaru and Seiryu-en Gardens
Nijo Castle, Kyoto

Ninomaru Garden is at the Ninomaru Palace in Nijo Castle, Kyoto. Nijo was built for
Ieyasu Tokugawa and the succeeding Tokugawa Shoguns who ruled Japan for 250 years
between 1603 and the Meiji Restoration in 1868. The Ninomaru Garden is a design by the famous
Kobori Enshu, tea master, architect, artist and general Renaissance man in the early Edo period.
It is an example of a chisen-kaiyu-shiki (hill and pond strolling garden) and is a shoin-zukuri
(residential garden of the samurai class). It is considered one of the premier examples of
this type of tsukiyama landscape garden, and is a National Place of Special Beauty.

Six images of Ninomaru Garden are on the Nijo Castle page. Three of them are below.


Ninomaru Garden 9183

The garden was originally designed so as to not
show changes with the seasons, thus no trees were
planted. It has since been changed by the addition
of topiary pines and a number of seasonal plants.


Ninomaru Garden 9188

A slight change in position or direction of view
completely changes the character of the garden.
The multi-layered texture of the garden and
the artistic placement of stones is mesmerizing.


Ninomaru Garden 9187

Ninomaru Garden was constructed in 1626 behind the Ninomaru Palace, where it could be
viewed from the places where the Shogun sat in the Ohiroma (grand chambers) and in the
Kuroshoin (inner audience hall), but the garden is more than a kansho garden designed to
be viewed from one or two locations... it changes from every viewing angle and is designed
to be viewed while on foot (thus the designation as a chisen-kaiyu-shiki strolling garden).

In the center is a large pond with three islands, connected by four bridges. The three islands are:
Horai (the Island of Eternal Happiness), flanked by Turtle (Kame-jima) and Crane (Tsuru-jima) Islands
(turtle and crane are symbols of longevity). The Ninomaru Garden is one of many Kobori Enshu masterpieces.

In the Honmaru, the main circle of defense, where the tenshu (main tower) was originally
located, the Seiryu-en Garden was recently built to entertain official guests of Kyoto City.
It consists of a Japanese Garden and a Western Garden. The Japanese Garden is below.


Nijo Seiryu-enTea House 9206

Koun-tei (Koun Teahouse) is located in Seiryu-en Garden. Seiryu-en Garden is
where the Honmaru tenshu was originally located before burning in the 1750 fire,
later used as the location of quarters for Shogunate officials. It was the site used for
banquet facilities for the Coronation of Emperor Taisho in 1912. The current form was
created by Ogawa Jihei (1860-1933), who was the pioneer of modern Japanese gardens.
It was redesigned in 1965 and opened as a reception area for official guests of Kyoto.


Nijo Seiryu-en Tea House 9208

Koun-tei and 800 of the Seiryu-en stones were part of the residence of the
prominent Edo-era merchant and canal-builder Suminokura Ryoi. It was built
c. 1600, and was dismantled and moved from his former residence to Seiryu-en.

Keitaku Garden, Osaka

Keitakuen Garden, designed by Kizu Issai, was the garden of the main residence of the
Sumitomo Family in Osaka. Jihei Ogawa, the master gardener of the late Meiji period
who established the modern Japanese gardening style, spent 10 years transforming
 Shinsui Sumitomo's circular garden into a chisen-kaiyu-shiki garden (a Japanese
strolling garden centered on a pond), with stones brought from all over Japan.

The construction started in 1908 and was completed in 1918.
The images below show the complex topiary around the main pond.


Keitaku Garden 9032

Kotoji-toro (Kotoji Lantern) was built as a copy of the Kotoji Lantern in
Kenrokuen in Kanazawa (one of the Three Great Gardens of Japan). It
was designed to resemble the bridge holding up the strings of a Koto.


Keitaku Garden 9023

Azumaya Teahouse peeking out from the topiary.


Keitaku Garden 9025

One of the islands in the pond with a small tree.


Keitaku Garden 9024

Keitaku garden is remarkably free of people, considering that it is right in the middle
 of Tennoji Park, which is itself in the middle of bustling Osaka City. A pleasant respite.


Luminous Beads 0137

This image was shot after a mild rainstorm at Katsuoji on Mino Mountain.

Satsukiyama Koen

Satsukiyama Park is in Ikeda City, a suburb of Osaka. As I was wandering through Japan
during Cherry Blossom season, I was naturally trying to time each part of my visit to the one
day when the blossoms are at their peak (they are perfect for a day or two at most, then they
start falling like gentle snow-petals all over the landscape). While it is a beautiful mess to
get to a city after the cherry blossoms start falling, it certainly is nicer to catch them on
the trees. The timing is tricky, since the day advances as you move north, and it all
depends on what the weather has been like (if it has been cold, it takes longer
for the flowers to mature, and the opposite is true if it has been warmer).

My timing was generally pretty good. Now and then, things work out.
By the way, if you’re interested, there is an entire page of Sakura.


Satsukiyama Koen Sakura 0238


Satsukiyama Koen Sakura 0242


Satsukiyama Koen Sakura 0264


Satsukiyama Koen Sakura 0260


Satsukiyama Koen Sakura 0265


Satsukiyama-Koen Bamboo Path 0270


Satsukiyama-Koen Jibo-Kannon 0239


Satsukiyama-Koen Jibo-Kannon 0240

A statue of Jibo-Kannon has a prominent position in Satsukiyama-Koen.

Jibo-Kannon literally means “Compassionate Mother Kannon”, and she is also
considered the Goddess of Motherly Love. Jibo-Kannon became popular in the
Tokugawa period, when she was appropriated by the outlawed Christians, who
venerated the Virgin Mary as Jibo-Kannon to hide their faith. Some statues
of Jibo-Kannon had a small cross pendant, and were called Maria Kannon.

(click here for an image of a Maria Kannon from Tenryuji)

Return to the top of this page


Images in this section are in a number of different Galleries on the Photoshelter website.
The Banner below leads to the Japan Collections page where a Gallery can be selected.


There are 21 Galleries in the Photoshelter Japan Collection


Korakuen Garden, Okayama

Korakuen Garden is known as one of Japan’s three major gardens, along with Mito’s Kairakuen
and Kanazawa’s Kenrokuen. It is a vast garden for Japan, with 133,000 square meters of space,
and is situated along the Asahi River just across from Okayama Castle. It was created by the
Daimyo (feudal lord) of Okayama Castle, Ikeda Tsunamasa, who ordered Tsuda Nagatada
to begin construction in 1687. The project was completed in 1700 and retains its original
appearance except for a few changes by daimyo over the years. It was used to entertain
important guests of the daimyo and as a ‘daimyo-spa’, although regular people could
visit on certain days. It was badly damaged during the bombings in WW II, but has
been restored from Edo-period paintings and drawings. Korakuen was the first
garden in Japan with a lawn, and the lawn extends for 18,500 square meters.

This is a kaiyu-shiki (strolling style) garden. It would have to be. It is huge.
An entirely different view is presented to the visitor at every turn. It is
very different from large western gardens, as even open spaces
 offer exquisite landscape views, with a meandering stream
and layers of texture in near, middle and distant views.


Korakuen Bamboo Sakura 0356

At the first turn of the entry path you are confronted with a forest of bamboo
beyond an overhanging arch of violently blooming sakura. Breathtaking.


Korakuen Sakura 0363

Cherry Blossoms and Evergreens. Nice combination.


Korakuen Sakura 0365


Okayama Castle 0375

A view of Okayama Castle across the Asahi River from Korakuen. Imposing...

This was a really difficult shot. The sun is not far out of the picture to the right, and
shooting a black castle up against a bright sky is a good definition of a challenging shot.
Exposing for the scene gets you a black blob for a castle, and exposing for the castle yields
zero color in the sky. The fine edge you have to dance on to get the correct exposure is razor thin.


Korakuen Sawa-no-ike Naka-no-shima 0376

Sawa-no-ike is the largest pond in the garden, and it has three islands:
Naka-no-shima (middle island), Mino-shima, and Jari-jima (pebble island).
Shima-Jaya Teahouse is on Naka-no-shima, Mino-shima has a fishing pavilion,
and Jari-jima has turtles and ducks sharing white pebbles with a stone lantern.

A point between Naka-no-shima and Mino-shima once marked the county
boundary between the Jodogun and Minogun areas of Okayama Prefecture.

Okayama Castle can be seen in the distance at top left.


Korakuen Tsuda Nagatada Monument Stele 0377

A monolithic monument to Tsuda Nagatada, who was the man responsible for
the creation of Korakuen. Daimyo Ikeda Tsunamasa ordered the construction of
Korakuen in 1687 and assigned Tsuda Nagatada the responsibility for the project.

He spent 14 years creating this masterpiece of horticultural splendor, and is honored with this stele.
Except for the addition of some teahouses and other small changes made by successive daimyo, the
garden is exactly as it was when Tsuda Kagatada created it in 1700. There were even paintings made
of the garden and documentation of every stage. Korakuen is one of the very few Edo-era gardens with
complete documentation of its history, which helped reconstruction after the damage caused by WW II.


Korakuen Water Wheel 0380

This water wheel behind Kansui-saikyo-ken rest house was made c. 1690-1700. It is regularly rebuilt.


Korakuen Water Wheel 0378


Korakuen Sakura Stupa 0383

A stupa-style ishidoro (stone lantern) and garden
stones adorn a hill in front of topiary walls and sakura.


Korakuen Sakura 0386


Korakuen Sakura 0385

Weeping sakura in full bloom.

The image above is of the same flowers as
those shown at right, but it is a large detail crop.


Korakuen Maple 0384

 A beautifully manicured Japanese Maple and an unusual ring-shaped stone lantern stand by the
Kyokusui (meandering stream), which runs through a large expanse of grass in front of a wall of sakura.


Korakuen Jizo-do Shrine 0389

One of six tutelary shrines in the garden. Tutelary
shrines (chinju) are intended to protect the property.


Korakuen Sawa-no-ike Jari-Jima 0393

Turtles and ducks share Jari-Jima with topiary pines
 and a lantern. Jari-Jima is named for the white pebbles.


Korakuen Sawa-no-ike Jari-Jima 0391

Another view of Jari-Jima Island with the Gojusantsugi Koshikake-Jaya Teahouse
peeking out of the pines in the background on the opposite bank of Sawa-no-Ike pond.

Gojusantsugi refers to the 53 rest stops between Nihonbashi (Tokyo) and Sanjo-ohashi (Kyoto).
During the Edo era, tired folks travelling on foot or horseback needed to rest, and there were 53 stations.
Koshikake means have a seat. Jaya means teahouse. Thus: “weary visitors: rest, have a seat and some tea”.

Creative naming for a little teahouse.


Korakuen Sawa-no-ike Jari-Jima 0394

This view of Jari-Jima looking towards the east shows
the fishing pavilion on Mino-shima in the background right.


Korakuen Asahi River Pathway 0395

Just outside the South Entrance to Korakuen is this pathway on the edge of the Asahi River.
The pathway parallels the river on the south side of the island, past Okayama Castle, and
leads to the southeast tip of the island where a statue of Mizube No Momokun stands.

Mizube No Momokun is holding up a peach, making reference to Momotaro.

Momotaro is sort of a city mascot to the people of Okayama.

Momotaro (Peach boy) came to earth in a giant peach, which was found floating in the river
by a childless old woman. The woman and her husband discovered him when they tried
to eat the peach. The couple raised Momotaro, until years later, he left his parents
to fight a band of evil Oni (trolls) who were ravaging the countryside. On the way,
 he meets a talking monkey, a talking dog, and a talking pheasant, who made
friends with Momotaro and offered to help him fight the Oni. They beat
 the Oni, capture the Oni leader and their plundered treasure, and
then they return home to live happily ever after.   —  The End

Return to the top of this page


Images in this section are in a number of different Galleries on the Photoshelter website.
The Banner below leads to the Japan Collections page where a Gallery can be selected.


There are 21 Galleries in the Photoshelter Japan Collection


Return to the Scenery Index page


Return to the Master Index on the Japan Select page.