Sukiya Living Magazine: The Journal of Japanese Gardening, a US magazine of Japanese gardens, has published its ‘2021 Japanese Garden Ranking’ covering some 1,000 gardens in Japan. The Japanese garden at the Adachi Museum of Art in Shimane topped the list again for 19 years in a row.
The ranking criteria do not depend on historical value, size or popularity. It all goes down to “how fine it is as a Japanese garden that people can appreciate today”, including the quality of the garden, harmony between the garden and the building, hospitality towards users, etc.
Top 5 Japanese Gardens in 2021
- Adachi Museum of Art (Shimane, Japan)
- Katsura Imperial Villa (Kyoto, Japan)
- Yamamoto-tei / The Katsushika-ku Yamamoto House and Garden (Tokyo)
- Minami-kan Ryokan (Shimane)
- Kyoto Heian Hotel (Kyoto, Japan)
What is the Japanese garden?
European-style gardens, notably the French formal garden, use geometric shapes (straight lines, squares, etc.) in their design. Unlike those, Japanese gardens use water, stones and plants to mimic natural landscapes.
They not only reduce actual natural landscapes but also illustrate ideas and stories within them. For example, water symbolises rivers, waterfalls and oceans, stones represent mountains and animals, and white sand represents the sea and clouds. The evergreen pine trees represent ‘eternal life’.
According to various theories, Japanese gardens may originate from the 6th-7th century. From the 8th-12th centuries, the Japanese garden culture evolved during the period when Kyoto was the capital of Japan. A prime example of this is the Byodoin garden.
What made the Japanese garden so well-known abroad today was the 1873 Vienna World Expo. It was the first time Japanese gardens were exhibited in Europe, receiving a massive response.
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