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Japanese gardens make the most of aspects these kinds of as ponds, streams, islands and hills to develop miniature reproductions of purely natural surroundings. The next are some of the most usually used factors:

Stones, Gravel and Sand

Because historic periods, stones have played an crucial part in Japanese tradition. In Shinto, distinguished huge stones are worshiped as kami, even though gravel was used to designate sacred grounds, as observed at some ancient shrines these types of as the Ise Shrines or Kyoto’s Kamigamo Shrine.

In present day gardens, huge stones symbolize mountains and hills, set ornamental accents and serve as the setting up substance for bridges and pathways. Scaled-down rocks and gravel are applied to line ponds and streams. In the meantime, dry gardens are comprised fully of stones, with more substantial stones symbolizing mountains, islands and waterfalls, when gravel and sand swap h2o.

Ancient sand construction at Kamigamo Shrine (remaining) and dry yard at Daitokuji’s Daisenin (suitable)

Raked sand at Ginkakuji (left) and pebble-lined pond at Sumpu Castle (correct)

Tofukuji Temple (left) and Japan’s largest rock yard at Kongobuji Temple on Koyasan (proper)

Massive, attractive or abnormal stones have been regarded as position symbols (Nijojo Castle)

Ponds, Streams and Waterfalls

Ponds are a central aspect of most gardens and generally represent actual or legendary lakes or seas. Often they deliver a habitat for carps (koi) which introduce more coloration and lifestyle to the back garden. In dry gardens, ponds, streams and waterfalls are symbolized by raked gravel, sand and upright stones.

In recreational varieties of gardens, ponds can be applied for boating or enjoyment from pavilions constructed out more than the water or from plazas and embankments on shore, which frequently served as the site for aristocratic poetry or moon viewing functions in past centuries.

Carp are frequently identified in ponds (Korakuen) (left) and Ninnaji Temple (appropriate)


Streams feed larger sized ponds in Motsuji Temple (remaining) and Kenrokuen (ideal)

Waterfall at Ginkakuji (still left) and raked gravel representing rough seas at Daitokuji’s Zuihoin (correct)

Pure Land style pond at Motsuji Temple

Islands and Bridges

Islands are another extended standing component of Japanese gardens, and vary in dimension from one stone outcroppings to huge islands significant ample to guidance structures. They typically stand for serious islands or have spiritual symbolism, these types of as people developed to resemble turtles and cranes, symbols of longevity and well being, or Horai, a sacred mystical mountain in Taoism.

Bridges are an additional widespread attribute that is utilized to link islands and cross streams or ponds. They are built of stone or wood, and vary in complexity from a simple slab of uncut rock laid across a stream to elaborate, covered wood buildings that span much more than 10 meters.

Significant ponds generally have large arching Chinese design bridges under which boats can move (Korakuen)

Lined picket bridge at Heian Jingu (remaining) and a bridge at Sento Imperial Palace (proper)

Stone bridge at Rikugien

Wood zig zag bridge at Korakuen (remaining) and stone islands amid a sea of gravel at Ryoanji (right)

A special bridge designed of coral at Shikinaen in Okinawa


Trees, shrubs, lawns and flowers of all types are utilized in Japanese gardens. Crops, these as maple and cherry trees, are often preferred for their seasonal appeal and are expertly positioned to emphasize these characteristics. Conversely, pine trees, bamboo and plum trees are held in certain esteem for their magnificence throughout the winter season months when other crops go dormant. Mosses are also used extensively, with over a hundred species appearing at Kokedera alone.

Crops are cautiously organized close to the gardens to imitate mother nature, and terrific attempts are taken to sustain their beauty. Trees, shrubs and lawns are meticulously manicured, and fragile mosses are swept clean up of debris. All through winter, straw, burlap and ropes are utilized to insulate and secure the trees and shrubs from the freezing snow, although straw wraps protect towards bug infestations.

Manicured shrubs at Adachi Museum of Artwork (still left) and maple trees at Koishikawa Korakuen (suitable)

Pine and cherry trees at Shinjuku Gyoen (remaining) and bamboo grove at Kodaiji Temple (suitable)

Moss lined statues at Sanzenin (still left) and a selection of moss on exhibit at Ginkakuji (appropriate)

Winterized vegetation at Rikugien


Larger gardens, specifically the strolling gardens of the Edo Interval, make use of substantial guy created hills. The hills may perhaps depict true or legendary mountains, and some can be ascended and have a viewpoint from where by website visitors are addressed to a panoramic view out about the back garden.

Hill representing Mount Fuji at Suizenji Park

View from the artificial hill at the center of Rikugien


Lanterns appear in a selection of shapes and dimensions and have been a common component of Japanese yard design throughout record. They are typically designed of stone and positioned in thoroughly chosen areas, this kind of as on islands, at the finishes of peninsulas or next to significant buildings, wherever they present both mild and a satisfying aesthetic. Lanterns are frequently paired with drinking water basins (see more facts beneath), which jointly make up a basic component of tea gardens.

Reduce stone lantern at Shimogamo Shrine, snow lantern at Kenrokuen and pedestal lantern at Rikugien

Buried shaft lantern at Sento Palace

Row of pedestal lanterns at Saimyoji (still left) and uncut pedestal lantern at Yoshikien Back garden (appropriate)

Water Basins

Lots of gardens have stone h2o basins (tsukubai), which are applied for ritual cleansing, specifically forward of tea ceremonies. The basins differ from very simple depressions in uncut stone to elaborate carved stone creations, and are typically presented with a bamboo dipper for scooping up water. These times they generally show up as a attractive addition additional than for a sensible function. Drinking water basins are an necessary element of tea gardens and are typically paired with lanterns.

Stone lantern and h2o basin pairings in Urakuen (still left) and Kotoin (proper)

Basins at Chusonji Temple and Ryoanji Temple

Slice stone h2o basin at Jojakkoji Temple in Arashiyama


Paths turned an integral section of Japanese gardens with the introduction of strolling and tea gardens. Strolling gardens characteristic circular paths built of stepping stones, crushed gravel, sand or packed earth, which are thoroughly prescribed to direct people to the greatest – albeit managed – views of the back garden. Winding paths also provide to segregate unique places, such as an isolated grove or hidden pond, from each and every other so that they may well be contemplated independently.

Packed earth paths guide by means of Korakuen

A variety of stone paths at Kotoin (remaining), Kiyosumi Teien (center) and Shugakuin Imperial Villa (right)

Stepping stone path by means of Heian Jingu’s Dragon Pond


Many kinds of gardens had been constructed to be seen from inside a developing, these as palace, villa or temple. In contrast, gardens meant to be entered and appreciated from within, use properties as a part of the garden’s composition, such as pavilions, tea residences and guest properties.

Higashi Honganji’s Shoseien Backyard

Ritsurin Koen (still left) and Katsura Rikyu Imperial Villa (right)

The celebrated Joan Teahouse in Urakuen

Enkoji Temple (still left) and a pavilion at Kenrokuen (appropriate)

Borrowed Landscapes

Borrowed scenery (shakkei) is the concept of integrating the qualifications landscape outdoors the garden into the design and style of the backyard. Both of those, all-natural objects such as mountains and hills and guy built buildings such as castles, can be made use of as borrowed surroundings. In modern-day occasions, skyscrapers have turn into a (normally) unintended borrowed surroundings for some gardens in the metropolitan areas.

Tenryuji borrows the landscapes of the Arashiyama mountains (remaining) and Ritsurin Koen the backdrop of Mount Shiun (suitable)

Korakuen involves nearby Okayama Castle as borrowed surroundings

Hama Rikyu’s borrowed skyscraper backdrop was not part of the garden’s original layout, but it is interesting