People enjoy Japanese gardens for different reasons. For the gardeners, there is a definite design they are creating with the elements of the garden, whether it is a formal or informal type of garden. For visitors, the garden is a place to relax, stroll and quietly reflect on the beautiful landscape that has been created.
Source Rokuon-ji Temple gardens
Japanese gardens can be designed in different styles. They can be an open, park-like setting, or a secluded moss and bamboo shade garden. The garden can also be a dry or pebble garden with minimal plantings, often referred to as a zen garden.
Source Zen garden, Ginkakuji, Kyoto
Most Japanese gardens contain certain elements that give it a Japanese feel. Usually there is a water feature of some type to bring movement and reflection to the garden. This can be a babbling brook, a calm pond, or just a small fountain near the entrance, symbolically placed to allow visitors to wash their hands.
Source Japanese garden, Portland, Oregon
Japanese gardens also make extensive use of rocks. The rocks counterbalance the softness of delicate bamboo or Japanese maple leaves, and give the garden some structure. They can also be placed to symbolize distant mountains. In a zen garden, they can be placed to symbolize a turtle or a crane.
Source Palermo Park Japanese garden
Many Japanese gardens also incorporate a small tea house made of bamboo timbers or dark wood, where tea ceremonies can be performed. There are also gates and railings used to add structure and help lead a visitor through the garden.
Source Tea House, Golden Gate Park
One of the elements that most people associate with the Japanese garden is a decorative stone lantern. These stone lanterns are made in different styles for different purposes. Some are meant to be placed overlooking water, or as a large focal point. Some are made with wide overhangs on top to protect their light from Winter snow.
Source Kotoji-toro lantern, Kenroku-en
The garden is meant to be beautiful in all seasons, Winter included. For this reason, the plantings are sculpted and much use is made of evergreens. Overall, a Japanese garden is an evolving work of art that changes through the seasons and the years.
Source Japanese garden, Horsforth
I hope this short article and beautiful pictures help you see the beauty of Japanese gardens. If you get a chance to visit one, you won't regret it.
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