Japanese Landscape
Elements of a Japanese Garden




Many people are intrigued by Japanese landscape garden, the simplicity and tranquility nature its offered bring you calmness and relaxation.

There is a different kind of intrinsic beauty in Japanese garden ideas that you must learn to appreciate. There are few people who can see a Japanese garden at once, and know in a second that this is the one they would love to have.

You need to have at least some internal peace before you are able to start enjoying the beauty of Japanese garden design and see each little element at its own.

Every form of art has its own elements, it is the same when it comes to craft a Japanese garden.

There are various main elements that make up of a typical Japanese landscape garden such as rocks, water, islands, ponds, bridges, lanterns, plants, a teahouse and borrowed scenery.

Although there are many different types of Japanese gardens, the elements within each style are quite similar.

Japanese Garden photos - Japanese Landscape Design - Koishikawa Korakuen Garden Tokyo Japan - Benzai Tenno Miya shrine on Horaijima (Horai Island) by Kimon Berlin Gribeco (Wikimedia)
Koishikawa Korakuen Garden Tokyo Japan -
Benzai Tenno Miya Shrine on Horaijima (Horai Island)






A) Stones, Water and Space:

Stones are amongst the most important elements of a Japanese garden. Almost all designers will starts off with the stones when constructing a Japanese garden, and the stones are always positioned in odd numbers in Japanese tradition.

Stones are used to construct foot paths, walls, and also to create simple waterfalls. They are typically part of a Zen garden.

The grouping of the stones can either be done randomly or even in triangular shapes.

Japanese landscape stone garden - Japanese Rock Garden - View of the Ryoan-ji karesansui from the hojo residence by AsiaWelcome.com

Japanese Landscape Stone Garden:
Japanese Rock Garden -
View of the Ryoan-ji karesansui from the hojo residence by AsiaWelcome.com


Japanese Rock Garden - View of the Ryoan-ji karesansui from the hojo residence by AsiaWelcome.com

Japanese Rock Garden -
Japanese Landscape Design - View of the Ryoan-ji karesansui from the hojo residence by AsiaWelcome.com


Note: A master piece - the stones garden of the Ryoan-ji temple in the north-western Kyoto is considered the best example of Karesansui, as it did not include any plant, pond, or tree; it is located in the southern part of the hojo's residence, and is surrounded by a low wall.

The temple of Ryoan-ji (the peaceful dragon), was built in 1450, Ryoan-ji is known as one of the master piece of the Japanese gardens.

The stone garden of the Ryoan-ji temple was probably created by kawaramono ( professional landscape designers) working together with Zen monks. In one of the fifteen stones of the garden, two signatures of kawaramono are engraved.



Water is an essential element and represented in every Asian garden; it can be a natural pond, a simple bamboo water spout, a meandering stream, a trickling stream, an exotic Koi pond, or can be symbolized by fine sand, smooth pebbles, or gravel.

However, fountains are not seen in Japanese landscape designs but natural water features are abundant.

Natural Stone Water Features - Japanese Landscape Garden Ornament Plans - Koi Ponds Photo

Natural Stone Water Features:
Japanese Landscape Garden Ornament Plans - Koi Ponds Photo





Rocks, stones, and boulders are another common part of most oriental gardens as well, often representing land, islands, or mountains.

In Japanese landscape gardens, especially large stones in the sand may symbolize islands. Carefully placed stones may symbolize islands while the gravel or sand, raked into interesting patterns, symbolizes water.

Japanese-Stone-Garden-Ornaments-Ryogen-in-Temple-garden-by-AsiaWelcome.com

Japanese Stone Garden Ornaments - Ryogen-in Temple garden
by AsiaWelcome.com


Note: The above picture is taken from a garden of the Ryogen-in temple is a traditional Stand and Stone garden, named Kare-san-sui (dry garden) or Zen-niwa; Ryogen-in, a temple of the Daitoku-ji Buddhist complex, was constructed in 1502.

Zen gardens took on a very simple form - raked sand to represent the ocean and stones to represent gods, mountains or animals - full of symbolism where the monks in the zen temple garden spent many hours in meditation seeking enlightenment from the stone and the sand.



Elegant stone lanterns are often placed near water features or the middle of the garden, representing the opposite energies of yin and yang.

Japan Kotoji Lantern - Kenroku-en, Kanazawa, Ishikawa Prefecture by Wikimedia

Japan Kotoji Elegant Stone Lanterns -
Kenroku-en, Kanazawa, Ishikawa Prefecture by Wikimedia



Japanese Stone lanterns in Mont Palace Tropical Garden, Madeira Portugal by Jonathan Grobe and Hannes Grobe (Wikimedia)

Japanese Stone lanterns in Monte Palace Tropical Garden,
Madeira Portugal

by Jonathan Grobe and Hannes Grobe (Wikimedia)





Empty space is another unique element, it may sound strange but this space is one of the most important style elements that the Japanese garden has.

When you decide to design your own Japanese garden, it is one of the traditions you can follow. That empty space creates a sort of retreat to all the beauty of the trees, plants and other elements.

The empty space reminds you of what you have missed and what you have found.

Zen Gardens Picture - Japanese Rock Garden - Japanese school girls admiring the Ryouanji Rock Garden by Naomi Hasegawa (dreamstime.com)

Zen Gardens Picture -
Japanese Rock Garden - Japanese school girls admiring the Ryoan-ji Rock Garden by Naomi Hasegawa (dreamstime.com)





B) Separate the garden from reality:

There are items in the garden that have a deeper meaning such as fences and gates, these structures are used to separate the garden from reality to let people experience the beauty and serenity of the garden.

How to build a fence - Fences in a Japanese style garden

Japanese landscape design - Fences and Gates


Unlike in the western countries, fences and gates are used to keep strange people away from the house and to keep pets and little children in the yard. Japanese garden ideas follows totally different traditions.

Privacy Fence Designs - Kenninjigake Bamboo Privacy Fence

Japanese Landscape Privacy Fence Designs - Kenninjigake Bamboo Privacy Fence






These are just those elements what people need to learn and understand before they can fully appreciate Japanese garden ideas.

Carefully planned design with the correct combination of these elements in which they are being used, is what brings a Japanese garden to life!






Japanese Garden Design:




The Art of Japanese Landscape Design reflects the real beauty of nature, many people loved this carefully planned Asian garden style. In actual, it is intended to give us a tranquil and reflective experience.








The Japanese Rock gardens were made from just two primary elements: rocks and a fine, light colored gravel. The idea is to find rocks that are interesting and in different shapes and sizes; rocks that you would not mind spend hours looking at.







Japanese Zen gardens with its simplicity and tranquility nature, are famous because of their effective use in meditation - help us to still our mind after a busy day. A Zen Garden can go on your desk too : )








Japanese Garden Design - Types of Japanese Garden Design by tradition they can be broadly categorized into three types, Tsukiyama Gardens (Hill Gardens), Karesansui Gardens (Dry Gardens) and Chaniwa Gardens (Tea Gardens). I love the tranquil and simplistic design of the Japanese gardens that offered me the calming effect.






Elements of a Japanese Garden You need to have at least some internal peace before you are able to start enjoying the beauty of Japanese garden design and see each little element at its own. Carefully planned design with the correct combination of these elements in which they are being used, is what brings a Japanese garden to life!




Japanese Granite Lantern - Yukimi Lantern
In Japanese landscape garden - Japanese lantern is one of the most identifiable garden ornament amongst all. That is true! Whenever we think of a Japanese garden, the first thing always spring to our mind is a stone lantern. These lanterns are usually carved from granite.






Japanese Landscaping Plant Guide - Japanese Bonsai trees

In Japanese landscaping garden design, plants are used for recreating nature, echoing larger themes and most importantly they serve as focal points too. Depending on your country climate, the focal point plants that work well within your Japanese garden may include ...






Japanese Tea Garden is a tranquil and yet practical place, the outer garden is entered first and is designed as waiting place to set the mood before enter the inner area for the tea ceremony.







Japanese Bells, Japanese Wind Bells and Wind Chimes
Japanese garden ornaments are a beautiful accent to your garden. Japanese garden ornaments include things such as Koi ponds, ornamental bridges, bamboo fencing, granite sculptures, and traditional Japanese lanterns.





Japanese Bonsai Tool Set - Carbon Steel 14 pieces
Japanese gardening tools require special care. Whether for the use of Japanese hill garden (Tsukiyama) or flat garden (Hiraniwa) type, there are the right Japanese gardening tools designed for each specific job and made versatile enough for all gardening enthusiast to enjoy.