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Japanese Gardens – 2 Main Types of Garden Styles in Japan

The Japanese garden is one of the most popular types of gardens in the world. This popularity has been achieved because the Japanese-style garden has a unique beauty in design. Japanese garden designs highlight natural beauty with minimal and avoided artificial constituent elements. This design that characterizes natural beauty does have a certain aesthetic function.

The Japanese garden provides serenity and a lovely atmosphere that only natural surroundings can create. This serene beauty feels very comfortable, especially for those who usually live in an urban environment with a fast life lifestyle.

Japanese Garden Concept

Japanese garden in the middle of the city and buildings.
Image credit: Rachel Cheng via Unsplash

A Japanese garden is a traditional garden designed with Japanese aesthetic values ​​and cultural philosophies. This type of garden has the main characteristic of the minimum use of artificial human-made decorations and accentuates the natural landscape presented by the natural landscape.

A Japanese garden concept can be composed of natural components and items denoting the transience of existence, one of the main themes in Japanese cultural philosophy. For example, apart from various plants, antiques with outdated conditions, we often encounter Japanese garden designs and concepts, such as old stone lanterns. Of the various garden designs available, the Japanese garden concept is characterised by a simple aesthetic design in a natural, minimalist setting.

This minimalist garden style is specially designed to create a serene space, inspiring anyone who enjoys it to meditate and breathe. Historically, designing such gardens in Japan was an art that came to Sakura from mainland China and the Korean peninsula.

Types of gardens in Japan

Traditional Japanese gardens can be divided into several types, seeing the condition of the land. The types of gardens in Japan are categorised into two types, Tsukiyama or Hiraniwa. This difference can be seen in the contours of the soil and the characteristics of the garden material. The area around the park is an important factor for establishing a Tsukiyama or Hiraniwa type garden.

1.A Tsukiyama Japanese style garden

Japanese style gardens
Tsukiyama garden has more grass.
Image credit: Pinterest


Tsukiyama, which can be translated as “artificial hill,” is a Japanese-style garden consisting of hilly land and grass. A Tsukiyama Japanese-style garden is a garden made to resemble a natural hillside with pools of water, streams of water, hills, rocks, flowers, bridges, and paths. Parks like this have various sizes. Small gardens are designed to be enjoyed from one point of view, for example, from the veranda of a house or a temple. Meanwhile, a Japanese Tsukiyama-style garden with many lands usually has a path snaking through it, where you can walk around and see the various corners of the garden. A Tsukiyama park usually has a watercourse and a pond.

A garden in Adachi Museum of Art. Selected at the best in Japan for 17 consecutive years by the Japanese garden magazine in the United States.
Image credit: Sakebiz

The view that spreads through the gate and the view of Himeji Castle are wonderful, and it is a typical Japanese garden where maples and black pine trees shine. A turtle is placed on the north side of the pond, and Iwashima, which has the image of a crane, is placed on the south side. The thatched-roof Shia “Rinsentei” that protrudes over the pond creates an atmosphere. Location: Himeji Place, 68 Honmachi, Himeji, Hyogo 670-0012, Japan.

Image credit: Tokyo 2020

2.Hiraniwa Japanese garden concept

Classification of Japanese gardens based on the land’s contours is a type of Japanese garden called Hiraniwa. Different from Tsukiyama with its design that mimics hills, Hiraniwa is a garden with flat land contours. In terms of its constituent materials, Hiraniwa Japanese-style gardens themselves are usually Japanese-style dry gardens, known as Karesansui.

However, another style variation in the Japanese Tsukiyama style garden is Karesansui, more commonly known as the Japanese dry garden. In the Japanese dry garden design (Karesansui, “dry landscape”), streams and water ponds are replaced by rock arrangements that mimic the beauty of streams and ponds. The stones are laid out like a circular stream of water. Gravel and sand are also used as symbols to replace water. Karesansui Japanese dry garden is a garden designed based on the Zen philosophy. The use of stones and sand in this garden symbolises the beauty of nature and the universe.

Karesansui garden

Karesansui concept in Ryoanji Temple. Location: 13 Ryoanji Goryonoshitacho, Ukyo Ward, Kyoto, 616-8001, Japan
Image credit: thegate12

Historically, this Japanese rock garden’s creation dates back to at least the 11th century in Japan when samurai came to power. The white sand used is a symbol of purity. The Karesansui garden in Japan is a space for pondering and meditation. Karesansui, or Japanese rock garden, was specially created to fulfil the need for a space conducive to contemplation. In this Japanese dry garden, you can focus your eyes on the beauty of the garden and reflect on the meaning of the space. The Japanese dry garden in front of you is not just a mere representation of mountains, rivers, and wilderness. It is also a symbol of the Buddhist belief view of simplicity and minimalism.

Typical Japanese garden

  • Here are some of the components that characterise a garden in Japan:
  • Waterfall
  • Water springs
  • Pool
  • Hilly land
  • Tiny islands in the middle of a pond
  • Bridges in various ways
  • The arrangement of the rocks
  • Bamboo and sakura always be favourite

Japanese minimalist garden design

Traditional garden designs strongly influence the aesthetic style of modern Japanese gardens. Therefore, even in a modern Japanese minimalist garden design, you can see accents rooted in a traditional garden designed based on the Zen philosophy. Minimalism in garden landscape design in Japan is always the same. Since ancient times, the Zen philosophy has taught a view and lifestyle that emphasises simplicity and natural beauty, with a soothing neutral feel.

The minimalist modern Japanese garden design is like a small world inhabited by abstract shapes of rocks, gravel, and plants trimmed with cloud-like shapes. Zen monks and Japanese landscape designers have tried for centuries to create minimalist garden designs that can inspire people to sleep. In the picture of a minimalist Japanese garden design above, you can see the constituent elements of a traditional Japanese garden.

The use of stones that dominate is like a Karesansui garden and green colours that decorate the plants. One of the typical plants encountered in Japanese gardens is a maple tree, like the one in the photo above. Adding a maple tree to your minimalist garden can give a minimalist Japanese garden touch.

The red colour element is important to make your Japanese garden look more beautiful. You can also use a typical Japanese gate to maximize the identity of the garden.
Location: Anderson Japan Garden, 318 Spring Creek Rd, Rockford, IL 61107, United States.
Image credit: Enjoy Illinois
  • Written By
  • Josephine Krisna Dewi Prawesti

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