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What is a Japanese Stroll Garden? | Explore and find Peace

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Japanese stroll garden is like a painting watched and explored from outside. The more you explore it, the more hidden secrets you find.

Japanese stroll garden

What is the Japanese Stroll Garden?

Japanese stroll garden is rich with tradition focus on the act of walking and exploration. In most, they feature find in the middle with a path around. With focus so much on exploration and discovery, they require a substantial amount of space. Visitors to the garden are encouraged to find their own way around and enjoy things at their own pace.

You might be interested also on my extensive blog post: what is contemporary balcony garden? 

What is the Japanese Stroll Garden and its History

The history of stroll gardens in Japan dates back to the 17th and 19th centuries. They were created in response to limitations on travel in the country that was instituted by the central government.

Wealthy landowners were unable to travel as they wished to, so they decided to create large private gardens in which they and their visitors could feel they were embarking on private journeys. 

Scenes in stroll gardens are inspired by well-known places around Japan. They generally have a pond in the middle and a path that circles this body of water. Even if visitors haven’t been to those places, they would with the help of garden design easily imagine them.

Japanese stroll gardens symbolically represented many scenes such as the Oi River near Kyoto, Mount Fuji, and Amanohashidate. The latter is a well-known spot situated on the coast of Japan. Inside these scenes, they often use structures such as famous bridges near Kyoto – Tsutenkyo, and Togetsukyo. Some landowners like more poetry than landscaped scenes so they represent them instead.

Different Elements of Japanese Stroll Garden

A great deal of flexibility is allowed when you are creating your Japanese stroll garden. As the creator of the garden, you’re the one who decides what you will symbolically represent within it.

Think about landscapes present nearby in your own country, what do you love and which places you get inspired by. All this can be represented like your home stroll garden. Another option is poetry or stories of some kind you love.

It can encompass different elements such as dry landscape, hill and pond, courtyard, and tea gardens. Make your own perfect Zen oasis who will feel you with daily energy.

In the Japanese tradition, the gardener in rather a similar way as an artist. Be creative!

The way you represent the scenes should be inspirational rather than excessively literal. Your goal is to call to mind the essence of each scene you want to represent

The Paths Within the Japanese Stroll Garden

As discussed earlier, a major difference between the stroll garden and the tea garden is its size. Another distinction is the fact that stroll gardens have paths that are meant to make visitors feel as if they are going on a journey or adventure.

The stroll garden is meant to be transcendent of limitations such as space and time. When designing it, you should strive to create a series of scenes that follow a path of a bamboo pole, cut granite pavers, or smooth gravel. The path should be meandering in shape and in many cases surrounded by a pond or a lake that serves as the garden’s object of attention. 

Designing Paths

When designing paths for your Japanese stroll garden, you want to choose a material that you can easily walk on. This can be a material such as cut granite pavers (which must be properly arranged), smooth gravel, or pavement made of a bamboo pole.

You should avoid anything like small stepping-stone paths, as they don’t provide stable footing and will slow down visitors as they make their way around the garden and distract them from the purpose of the garden, which is to take in and enjoy the surroundings. This is a major difference from other kinds of Japanese gardens in which stepping-stones are a fundamental component. 

You’ll also want to ensure that you keep up a sense of visual equilibrium or balance when designing your paths.

There are two kinds of balance in Japanese stroll gardens: dynamic and asymmetric.

Japanese gardens do not require paths to relate in a completely symmetrical way to an object of focus, such as a lantern or teahouse.  Their favorable way is to achieve Asymmetrical Balance. This type of balance is more dynamic compared to European gardens where we can see more formal designs.

Some well known Japanese Stroll Gardens

Ritsurin Koen (Takamatsu)

Ritsurin Koen is found near Okayama, Ritsurin Koen, in the Kagawa Prefecture. This is among the loveliest strolling gardens in Japan’s south, and it features walking paths, ponds, and teahouses. It was once a recreational garden belonging to local landowners.

Katsura Imperial Villa (Kyoto) 

This popular strolling garden was created in the Edo Period specifically for the use of high-ranking officials. You will need to make reservations beforehand in order to enjoy a tour of this garden.

Koishikawa Gardens

Koishikawa Gardens is situated in Tokyo. It was established in the Edo Period as well. It is one of the city’s oldest gardens. Koishikawa Gardens boasts numerous scenes representative of well-known landscapes in Japan and China. There is a pond in the center of the garden, and as is appropriate for a strolling garden, a path surrounds it. The Koishikawa River (Little Stone River) feeds the pond.

Tonogayato Teien

Tonogayato Teien is a landscape garden. It is situated near Tokyo and was established between 1914 and 1916. If you visit this garden, you’ll discover that there is a tea house on the grounds and that people can rent it for tea ceremonies. Tonogayato Teien is unique in that its style is a mixture of strolling gardens from the Japanese and European traditions. You can reach this garden with a 20-minute train journey from Shinjuku Station.

Ginkaku-ji Temple

The Shogun stroll garden is located at Ginkaku-Ji Temple (or the Silver Pavilion). This is among Japan’s most impressive traditional landscape gardens. The designer was Soami, a famous landscape artist. It boasts a variety of different styles within it, including a moss and a dry sand garden.

The garden’s dry sand area is referred to as the “Sea of Silver Sand.” When you visit, you’ll notice that there is a gigantic cone of sand. This was created to represent Mount Fuji.

The moss garden element has ponds complete with islands, as well as bridges. There are also small streams. If you’re hoping to see many different kinds of plants, you won’t be disappointed. 

The Garden at Tenryu-Ji Temple

The garden found at Tenryu-ji Temple is another beautiful spot in Japan. It’s found in Arashiyama, which is just to the west of Kyoto. Tenryu-Ji Temple is one of the most significant Zen temples in Kyoto.

You can adore Stroll garden with the added charm of beautiful mountains close-by. It’s promenade is in a circular shape and surrounds Sogen Pond. Japan has honored this garden as one of the country’s “Special Places of Scenic Beauty.” 


The garden at the Hasedera temple in the Kamakura area offers gorgeous hydrangea as well as a modern dry landscape garden. You’ll also see a Kannon statue with deep mystical significance.

Japan is rich in history. Their focus on nature and quality. Get inspired by Japanese Interior design and their minimalistic way of thinking.

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