10 Tranquil Japanese Gardens To Visit In The U.S. In Spring

One of the grandest experiences in the Lands of the Rising Sun, Japanese Gardens offer a collective taste of the nation’s natural beauty sculpted into an artistic format – one that is instantly recognizable as authentic Japanese landscape botany and architecture. According to ancient customs, three essential elements of nature characterize a real Japanese garden; First there is water, which usually adorns a garden in the form of an asymmetric central pond with moving water elements, while the second consists of earth, with rocks, sand, gravel and many plants, especially moss, all adorning the space. Other features that add to the authenticity of a Japanese garden include pagodas, bridges and stone lanterns, all blending into a peaceful area that appeals to the senses – one that reflects Shinto and Buddhist concepts of harmony and tranquillity.

Given their serene reverence and unique qualities, Japanese gardens became a fascination in the United States in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. In fact, fans of their charm and splendor created their own displays at world fairs and expositions across the United States, spreading their fascination with the public outside of Japan and piqued the interest of Americans around the time. While World War II distracted enthusiasm for Japanese gardens in the country for a time, the public eventually resumed their preoccupation with these stunning masterpieces, and hobbyists continued their pastimes, once again enjoying the lawns of the Land of the Rising Sun in the 50 states procured.

See also: 10 things to see in Kyoto (besides cherry blossoms)

In modern times, the United States’ fascination with Japanese gardens continues, and thanks to a long association with these horticultural and architectural wonders from across the Pacific, there are many sublime examples for people to enjoy today – some of which may be closer home lie than the Americans recognize. Of all the wondrous and whimsical lots to explore, these are some of the best Japanese gardens in the US to visit in spring, when the flowers are in bloom and sakura trees are exploding in pastel pink – proving you’re not A must-hop is a long flight to Japan to experience the majesty and serenity of these old-world creations.

10 Japanese Friendship Garden, Arizona

  • Location:
    GARDEN 1125 N. 3rd Avenue, Phoenix, AZ 85003

This 3.5 hectare walking garden, resp ‘miegakure’ (meaning “hide and reveal”) began as a collaborative effort by Phoenix and its sister community in Himeji, Japan, the latter of whom donated the site’s decorative features. With a teahouse and koi pond in its enchanting rooms, this dot on the Arizona map conveys a sense of the calming outdoor aura of old Japan that has made the country’s signature curated gardens a place of tranquility and retreat. The official name of this garden is ‘Rohouen’ which combines three Japanese words: ‘ro’ for heron, ‘ho’ is the word for the mythical phoenix and ‘en’ for garden – an apt name for a true Japanese garden in Phoenix.

9 The Hammond Museum & Japanese Stroll Garden, New York

  • Location:
    Hammond Museum and Japanese Stroll Garden 28 Deveau Road, PO Box 326, North Salem, NY 10560

The paths of this pretty walking garden take wandering visitors on a journey through evolving landscapes. Each carefully crafted path uses unique methods and clever imagery to encourage guests to slow down and enjoy their surroundings while anticipating what’s around the corner – a trick that noticeably does so. Additionally, the Hammond Museum adds a cultural experience to complement the garden experience; The facility hosts Japanese tea ceremonies and ‘ikebana’ (flower binding courses).

8th Portland Japanese Garden, Oregon

  • Location:
    611 SW Kingston Avenue, Portland, Oregon 97205

This beautiful spot in Washington Park is one of America’s most famous Japanese gardens. Ranging from vibrant green foliage to remarkable rocks and sand, this 5.5-acre garden features eight distinct zones, each offering a taste of history-inspired Japanese aesthetics. In addition, events such as art exhibitions, various performances and courses are also held in the site’s cultural village. The cherry on the cherry blossom tree is the beautiful view of Mt. Hood from the East Porch, which park visitors can enjoy near the authentic pavilion.

See also: 10 reasons to choose a traditional Japanese ryokan over a hotel

7 Shofuso Japanese Cultural Center, Pennsylvania

  • Location:
    Shofuso Japanese Cultural Center, Horticulture and Lansdowne Drives, Philadelphia, PA 19131

The Japanese house of the seventeenth century – Schofuso (meaning Pine Breeze Villa) – first began exhibiting at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. The structure was later sent to Philadelphia’s West Fairmount Park—the city that was home to North America’s very first Japanese garden after its centennial exhibition in 1876. The garden and its serene landscape, reflecting the same period as this beautiful Japanese home, lets visitors see and feel what it might have been like to meander through Japan’s picturesque, perfectly formed gardens in the 16th century. The site offers plenty of tradition with a tiered waterfall, an island, a koi fish pond, a tea garden with an old-style teahouse, and a courtyard garden leading to a Japanese bathhouse.

6 Missouri Botanical Garden, Missouri

  • Location:
    4344 Shaw Blvd, St Louis, MO 63110

A 14-acre garden of pure, clear harmony and peace sits in St. Louis and certainly lives up to its description. With a minimalist exhibit inspired by centuries-old Japanese customs and practices, Seiwa-en brings the historic magic of the Land of the Rising Sun to Missouri. The stunning centerpiece of the site is a large lake dotted by four islands on which a teahouse is on display. This teahouse was originally constructed in Nagano Prefecture – Missouri’s sister state in Japan – before being rebuilt in St. Louis and officially dedicated in a true Shinto ceremony.

Also see: Relax and Unwind in Japan: The Best Onsens to Soothe Your Soul

5 Elizabeth Hubert Malott Japanese Garden, Illinois

  • Location:
    1000 Lake Cook Road Glencoe, Il 60022

Sansho En, or the ‘Garden of the Three Islands’, is a relaxing part of the Chicago Botanic Garden. Exuding a seventeenth-century aesthetic, the features of the garden blend effortlessly into the surroundings and evoke the feeling that they have always been a part of the country. Large rocks half buried in the ground, beautifully sculpted pine trees that represent the longevity of life in Japanese philosophy, and flowering plants all tell a story of the timelessness of nature in this space.

4 Bloedel Reserve Japanese Garden, Washington

  • location
    : Bloedel Reserve 7571 NE Dolphin Drive Bainbridge Island, WA 98110

Seattle gardener Fujitaro Kubota planned this quiet, meditative space for the Bloedel family—a feat he accomplished impressively without drawings. This delightful Japanese garden on Bainbridge Island offers plenty of authentic awe; There are miniature mountains, a nearly 200-year-old lace-leaf Japanese maple imported from Japan, and a pristine manicured sand and rock garden located in front of the attraction’s guest house.

3 The Japanese Garden, California

  • Location:
    6100 Woodley Avenue, Van Nuys, CA 91406

Japanese Garden in the San Fernando Valley named “Suihoen‘ features a trio of gardens ‘of water and fragrance’. The Gardens, “Dry Meditation”, “Wet Walk” and “Tea” cover 2.5 hectares and were designed by Dr. Koichi Kawana, who also built more than a dozen other Japanese gardens across the States. Interestingly, treated wastewater from the nearby Donald C. Tillman Water Reclamation Plant irrigates the garden and fills its lake, making it a marvel of sustainability as well as authentic Japanese botanical beauty. Overall, California has no shortage of Japanese gardens, including the popular Tea Garden in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park — one of the oldest in the country.

Related: Here’s where to go to satisfy your sweet tooth in Kyoto

2 Japanese Peace Garden, Texas

  • Location:
    311 E Austin St Fredericksburg, Texas 78624

The National Museum of the Pacific War seems like an unusual place to house a Japanese garden; but that’s where this quiet terrain lies. The Japanese Garden of Peace was a symbolic gift from Japan to the United States “the complicated but solid friendship between the two countries, as the museum explains. In a poetic style, the garden depicts the ocean eddying like waves, while the planting appears as Pacific islands within the artwork.

See also: This is how long it takes to see the San Antonio Japanese Tea Garden

1 Valley of the Temples Memorial Park, Hawaii

  • Location:
    47-200 Kahekili Highway, Kaneohe, HI 96744

Not just a Japanese Zen garden in Hawaii, but one in a cemetery? That’s right – an unconventional place for such an attraction; However, this does not detract from the great experience that visitors can enjoy while strolling through the grounds. Featuring meditation spaces, primed and primed greenery, and a reflection pond full of Japanese koi carp, this sprawling space in Valley of the Temples Memorial Park gives visitors a glimpse of Japan’s outdoor traditions. The park is also home to an actual bright red Byodo-In Temple, built in 1968 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Japanese immigration to Hawaii, and is a smaller reconstruction of its namesake in Japan.

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