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Japanese Gardens


I am not much of a gardener ( I usually tell people that I have a brown thumb), but I still enjoy the beautiful scenery that a well-planned garden creates.  My husband is the one that spends hours in our own backyard to create our little tropical oasis in the middle of the USA.

My husband and I had the opportunity to travel to Japan this spring, hoping to see cherry blossoms abundantly blooming all over the country.  Unfortunately, the cherry blossoms came early in 2018, but the gardens were still wonderful. Perhaps the gardens were that much more amazing because they didn’t need colorful blossoms to make them pretty.  

A typical Japanese garden uses few, if any, flowers.  Well made gardens tie in the background scenery such as mountains or hillsides to create an effortless flow for the garden.  The garden can be created to walk through, or to enjoy from a sitting position. Some gardens are designed specifically for the view they provide outside a window, creating a picture frame around the outdoor art.   

Historically in Japan, only the rich could afford water features, thus many gardens utilize stones to symbolically represent waterfalls and oceans.  A large granite stone can represent a waterfall, while small raked stones can be made to look like waves.

At first glance, Japanese design can seem quite simple, but the attention to detail, the placement of the elements, the lines and spaces, are anything but simplistic.  Japanese pay a lot of attention to the detail and will work for hours on perfecting a small nuance that most Americans would have given up as “good enough” much sooner.   I observed a group of four Japanese men spend two hours perfecting the display of an ancient Samurai helmet in the hotel lobby on our last day in Tokyo. The same attention is evident in the gardens we saw throughout the country.  

We can learn a lot by observing the Japanese attention to detail, whether creating our own botanical work of art or decorating the interiors of our homes.  There is a reason that things look the way they do.

I hope you enjoy this collection of my own photography from Japan,  including small private gardens, and public gardens and memorials. Maybe it will inspire your own gardening or at least a visit to the Japanese Garden in the Missouri Botanical Gardens.  When we returned home the Missouri cherry trees, pear trees, and dogwood were in full bloom, the one thing I missed seeing in Japan. Home, sweet, home.


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