The many beautiful designs of Japanese Gardens

Japanese Gardens

Japanese Gardens

There are many types of Japanese garden designs. Each with its own purpose, Japanese gardens tend to be immaculate, pristine and enable the Japanese to connect with nature and the environment. The design of these gardens is an integral part of Japanese culture and lifestyle.

When you think of Japanese gardens, most people picture a small space with a teahouse and some carefully placed rocks. However, there are many different types of Japanese garden design and we have highlighted some of them for you below.

The karesansui

The karesansui 枯山水 style is a dry landscape with rocks, gravel and sand, its probably best knows in the West as a Zen garden.

The karesansui style is a landscape that traditionally does not include trees or other plant life and instead relies on rocks to create the scenery. The most common type of rock used in this art form is gravel and sandstone which can be found all over Japan. In Japan, Zen gardens are often used to help visitors gain a quieter and more peaceful side of themselves.

These serene spaces can allow one’s mind to focus on the present moment instead of future worries for just a little while as they chat with friends or meditate in solitude among these tranquil settings. The key is that time becomes an afterthought when you’re surrounded by beauty without distraction; something we could all benefit from. 

This is one of the more traditional forms that use minimal plants to emphasize natural beauty through simplicity and balance. The key elements in this design include stones arranged in patterns to represent waterfalls, mountains, or sand ripples depending on where it was created.

Japanese Gardens Zen garden
Japanese Gardens
Japanese Gardens

The shakkei

The shakkei style or borrowed scenery is a technique whereby things like mountains or waterfalls, any type of distant natural feature are incorporated into the design of the garden and as such become part of the design.

Many people think that the shakkei style is simply a body of plants used to frame an outside view. This idea, however, does not capture what this technique means and how it was originally intended to work in Japanese gardens. Shakkei can be translated as “borrowed scenery” or “looking at nature from within.” The beauty found inside these carefully constructed areas is meant to mimic natural scenes such as mountainsides with flowing waterfalls.

The Chaniwa or Roji

Best known as the Japanese tea garden (茶庭 Chaniwa or 露地 Roji) features a garden path lined with mossy stones that leads to a teahouse or small pavilion 

Japanese roji-style gardens are traditionally created with a narrow, long strip of land. A guided walk from the house to the teahouse. The small garden is meant to represent the struggles that come from living in an urban setting where people can feel disconnected and confined by their surroundings. It also symbolizes simplicity and tranquility amid complicated life situations.


The chisen-shukkei or stroll garden design uses water as its main feature, often in the form of a large pond 

Chisen-shukkei is a design that marries the concepts of nature and manmade structures. It has been used in Japanese gardens for centuries, but it was not until modern times when Westerners attempted to recreate this feature on their own terrestrial landscapes. The concept can be seen as an extension of traditional Zen ideas about unity with Nature which are often expressed through sand or gravel raking patterns called karesansui (dry landscape).

Chisen-Shukkei creates dynamic relationships between elements such as trees, rocks, water features like ponds and streams etc; blending together harmony within sameness by juxtaposing natural objects against designed ones rather than eliminating them altogether because they “deny human intervention”. 

Japanese Gardens


The tsukiyama design is characterized by high ground mounds and rock formations on which trees are planted 

The Tsukiyama style of garden design is meant to bring one closer to nature by incorporating a sense of reverence and respect into the beauty that can be found in everything. The goal is not for humans or any other creature- life form as we know it -to ever feel superior, but rather find peace through simplicity.

The lively colors and textures often seen in modern gardens are replaced with natural elements such as earth tones, water features, trees planted among rocks instead of on manicured lawns facing each other symmetrically from opposite ends like chess pieces waiting patiently for their next move; they appear more worn down than pristinely maintained because this reflects how things naturally evolve over time without interference.

Shoinzukuri Teien

The study garden Shoinzukuri Teien  書院造庭園 

You are encouraged to sit rather than walk through this garden, best appreciated visually from a static position.

Most often a pond will be the central element with a slope or incline behind. Small ornate bridges are arranged to the side of the pond and these gardens may also include stonework and pagodas.

Japanese Gardens


Courtyard Gardens  Tsuboniwa 坪庭

Small gardens built within a house or residence. These gardens have been around for hundreds of years and also help to regulate airflow and hear within the building. One can expect water features and in most Tsuboniwa.

Japanese Gardens

Japanese Gardens
Japanese Garden design

A Japanese garden is culturally unique and can be used as an escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

Japanese gardens are beautiful and provide a great reprieve from the fast-paced world. If you’re interested in designing your own, start by considering what type of garden design best fits with the space you have available. There is no right or wrong answer to this question – like any good art form, there’s room for expression! 

For more inspiration take a look at our Pinterest board for Japanese garden design.

Japanese Gardens
Japanese Gardens
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