Whether it be a space for cultural exchange or to find a moment of peace, Japanese gardens (and elements of it) can be enjoyed around the world. These spaces allow guests to enjoy a natural landscape through thoughtfully placed plants and materials. They can vary in size, from a modest backyard in Kyoto or a 5.5 acre Japanese garden like the one in Portland, Oregon.
Below is list of Japanese gardens that may be in your backyard or near your next travel destination. Skip all the work and enjoy what these beautiful gardens have to offer.
Quick tip: Do a quick read on the different types of Japanese gardens and identify the gardens below as we go along!
Noguchi Sculpture Garden
Costa Mesa, California
Tucked away in the Orange County oasis, South Coast Plaza, the Noguchi Sculpture Garden is comprised of six principal elements of the California Scenario: Forest Walk, Land Use, Desert Land, Water Source, Water Use, and Energy Fountain.
Additional Story: Isamu Noguchi's Hidden Public Sculpture Garden in Orange County
Earl Burns Miller Japanese Garden at CSU Long Beach
Long Beach, California
"I have a dream for this garden. When a person is tired, or anxious, or in a quest of beauty, may they enter and come forth refreshed to meet the problems of the day. There will be music of the wind through the pines, music from the waterfalls and the birds. There will be serenity as you walk around the lake, and joy, I hope, in the beauty of the reflections in that lake. There will be iris and azaleas in the Spring. Flowering magnolia in Summer. In the Fall, chrysanthemums and the gold of the liquid amber trees. There will be strength and solidity in the rocks and the wooden bridges. And, of course, there will be bamboo, a favorite wood of the Japanese because it is so useful and beautiful. There is an old proverb that says, 'Bamboo bends but never breaks.' It is my hope that as you leave your tour of the garden, you will find in your heart that proverb, and the day will be filled with joy."
– Loraine Miller Collins
James Irvine Japanese Garden
Little Tokyo, Los Angeles, California
The James Irvine Japanese Garden is a beautiful garden tucked next to the Japanese American Community Cultural Center in Little Tokyo. This environmentally friendly garden has a low water-use irrigation system designed to recycle stream water and solar powered lights. The highlight of this garden is the 170 foot stream that symbolizes the journey of successive generations of Japanese in America. The rushing fall of water in the upper portion of the garden represents the struggles of the Issei generation against economic hardship and prejudices in a new land. The stream then divides into two, signifying the political and cultural conflicts experienced by second generation Nisei, finally ending in a calm pond, symbolizing hope and peace for the Sansei and future generations.
Japanese Garden at The Huntington Library
San Marino, California
The most beloved and iconic landscape at The Huntington has attracted more than 20 million visitors and is arguably the most popular spot at the The Huntington, according to the Director of the Botanical Gardens. This beautiful nine acre garden features a Japanese House, a Ceremonial Teahouse (donated by the Pasadena Buddhist Temple), Bonsai Collection, and Zen Court.
Japanese Tea Garden
San Francisco, California
The oldest public Japanese garden in the United States was originally built by Australian-born George Turner Marsh but later modified by Japanese immigrant and gardener, Makoto Hagiwara. Due to an anti-avian immigrant amendment to the city charter, Makoto was removed as the manager in 1901 for several years, but continued to secretly carry out his plans while also opening and operating a competing garden blocks away.
Portland Japanese Garden
When Nobuo Matsunaga, the former Ambassador of Japan to the United States, visited the Portland Japanese Garden, he proclaimed it to be “the most beautiful and authentic Japanese garden in the world outside of Japan.” 12 acres, eight garden styles, an authentic Japanese Tea House, streams, walkways, and a view of Mount Hood make this garden a destination to add to your sightseeing list.
Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden
Brooklyn, New York
This is the first Japanese-inspired garden in the United States to be built in a public botanic garden. Its Sakura Matsuri, or cherry blossom festival, attracts upwards of 70,000 people every year.
Japanese Garden at Tatton Park
Knutsford, Cheshire, United Kingdom
Jumping across the pond, we find ourselves at what is said to be one of the finest examples of Japanese gardens in Europe, with artifacts and a Shinto Shrine from Japan.
Cowra Japanese Garden
Cowra, New South Wales, Australia
This strolling garden features rocky hillsides, manicured hedges, waterfalls streams, and lakes on a whopping five hectares (that's more than 12 acres!), making it the largest in the southern hemisphere.
Cowra is also the location of a prison camp where more than a thousand Japanese prisoners of war broke out, resulting in the burial of 231 soldiers nearby.
Jardín Japonés de Buenos Aires
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Created by the Japanese Argentine Cultural Foundation, this 4.9 acre garden is one of the largest Japanese gardens outside of Japan. This garden combines traditional Japanese elements (e.g. sakura, Katsura, momiji, and azalea) with plants native to South America (e.g. tipa and floss silk trees).
Buenos Aires, Argentina
This garden features a beautiful Japanese Pavilion that was built in 1954. Inspired by the Katsura Palace in Kyoto, it is one of the two pavilions, outside of Japan, that has maintained its characteristics in perfect condition.
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