Even those who live outside of Japan probably also know that Japanese gardens have a unique and different style. In Japan, the garden design is one of the most important forms of art. The most beautiful Japanese gardens can mostly be found in Kyoto. Japanese gardens styles also vary; dry stone gardens that are used by Zen monks, strolling gardens that were used for recreation in edo period, landscape gardens, and tea gardens.
So what makes Japanese gardens different from the usual gardens? As you may know, the elements like stones in Japanese gardens are selected and not merely used for decoration purpose. So the stone’s origin, how it has developed and where it is used today, all matters when it comes to selection.
Japanese people see the garden as a place where peace and tranquility reside. The ponds with koi fish, streams, flowers and trees are really well placed and organized. It dates back to 1500s when feudal elite liked to worship the aesthetics of nature. Kenroku-en in Kanazwa, Koraku-en in Okayama and Ritsurin koen in Takamatsu are mentioned as the most celebrated gardens in the history of Japan. In Kyoto, Ryoanji temple, the zen garden is one of the most popular in Japan and has been nominated as one of 28 places that you have to visit before you die, back in 2008. Most of visitors confessed that they came to Ryoanji to relax and obtain mental peace.
Initially, Japanese gardens were developed under the influence of Chinese gardens, but they began to develop their own aesthetics based on Japanese culture. Since the end of 19th century, Japanese gardens also were adapted into western environments.
As I mentioned before, gardens in Japan are considered to be high art. They are equal to calligraphy and ink painting. Japanese gardens also follow the principles of Japanese landscape painting. One of the garden manuals which helped to define aesthetics of Japanese garden is Senzui Narabi ni Nogata no Zu (山水並野形図) or illustrations for designing mountains, water bodies and hillside landscapes.