From bonsai trees to cherry blossom, it’s no secret that Japan is a haven for horticulture. On our Japan Garden Discovery tour, we immerse ourselves in all things green and glorious, visiting 10 traditional and historic gardens across Tokyo, Hakone, Hiroshima, Okayama and Kyoto amongst other highlights of Japan. With a specialist Japanese gardener at four of the gardens, the tour truly celebrates Japanese culture, art, nature and history, as well as the striking gardens and what makes each one special.
A typical traditional Japanese garden has miniature natural scenery including ponds, hills, stones, trees and fish. Some feature even bridges, paths, moss, flowers, small plants as well as streams. But there’s more to each element than meets the eye, as generally Japanese gardens have great symbolics within the delicate construction. Gravel is usually a special stone, some sparkle like gemstones in sun, whereas if pine trees are featured they tend to symbolize the perseverance.
Depending on the time of year you visit, typical plants seen are the Hakonechloa, Quince, Cydonia oblonga, Rhododendrons, Azalea ‘Rosebud’, Araiostegia paripinnate, Cherries Prunus ‘Pink Shell’, Japanese maples. Acer palmatum ‘Sango-Kaku’, Wisteria and Peonies. Here’s what to expect on our Japan Garden Discovery…
Whilst in Tokyo, there are two spectacular but differing garden experiences, from the Bonsai Museum of Shunka-en to the lush gardens of Hama-rikyū, next to Tokyo Bay. Famed for auburn shades in autumn and cherry blossom in spring, this 250,165 square metre public park was built during the Edo period (1603 – 1868).
Just a stone’s throw from Lake Kawaguchi, the Ichiku Kubota Art Museum brings together the art of dyeing fabrics in a picturesque, natural setting. Made from wooden beams dating back 1000 years, the main building houses an exhibition and green tearoom, whilst the garden is made from a unique combination of Ryukyu limestone, Mount Fuji lava, azaleas and natural springs.
A relatively young garden, Hakone Botanical Garden of Wetland was founded in 1976 to preserve and feature over 1700 varieties of alpine and marsh plants native to Japan. Set over a network of boardwalk paths thought various types of marshland, it’s a great place for learning about plants that populate the wetlands.
Right in the middle of Hiroshima, Shukkeien Japanese Garden was created in 1620 and is surrounded by over 4800 trees and has deep history within the city. It’s hard to believe that you’re in a city centre, where Lake Takueichi makes up approximately 20% of the garden’s area.
Founded in 1700, Korakuen is one of the three most famous traditional gardens of Japan, with its name taken from a proverb given by Confucius. Nestled on the bank of the Aashi river, here you’ll witness the likes of tea houses, hills, ponds, streams as well as panoramic views of Okayama Castle.
This ancient city will be a highlight for many, with no less than three gardens to explore: Murin-an, Sogenchi and Ryoan-Ji Temple zen garden. Murin-an is a classic Japanese garden of the Meiji period, created between 1894 and 1896 by Yamagata Aritomo, a prime minister of the Meiji period. Whilst UNESCO-listed Ryoan-Ji is one of the most famous zen gardens within the Kyoto area. Also known as Karesansui, the zen style is a dry landscape garden and is the best known of Japanese garden. The garden features architecture of Japanese Buddhist style, with 15 stones in the garden that are kept on the pebbles.
The beautiful Isuien Japanese Garden can be found between Todai-Ji and the Kofuku-Ji Temple. Designated an ‘important cultural property of Japan’; the structure is made of two gardens, the front constructed in the Edo period and the back constructed during the Meiji.
Have you experienced the best gardens of Japan? Join us in 2022 or 2023, with just exclusive six dates available.