SHOSEI-EN, HEIAN, HARADANI-EN, TOJI, BOTANIC, NIJO-JO, KINKAKU-JI,
photo-reportage by Wieslaw Sadurski.
When it comes to gardens, Kyoto is the place to go. Kyoto has an unbelievable number of gardens. It has been the political, religious and cultural capital of Japan for several centuries, and this environment has fueled the development of all major Japanese traditions. Emperors, aristocrats, samurai - they all included wonderful gardens in their residences, some of which can still be explored today.
The gardens, temples, palaces with world-famous gardens have seen times of war, devastating fires, earthquakes and survived until today for you to enjoy. How do they mix their country's rich garden culture with the needs of everyday life?
Shosei-en is a truly beautiful stroll garden, hidden behind large walls, and with an entrance tucked away on a side street. However, beyond those walls are spacious park-like grounds, which include villas, teahouses, and a large pond with islands and bridges. The tranquil garden is so designed and arranged that once inside its rounds you could easily forget that you are in one of Kyoto’s urban areas.
After coming in at the western entrance, the first thing you will see ahead of you, is this wall, beautifully constructed out of borrowed stones from a variety of sources which range from long quarry stones, foundation stones, rocks, tiles and even a round mill stone.
The pond is the main feature of the garden. When the moon rises above the Higashiyama mountains, it is beautifully reflected in the water. From this comes the name “Moon Crest Pond”.
Large numbers of weeping cherry trees stand in the garden of Heian Shrine, behind the shrine's main buildings, making it one of the best spots to see weeping cherry trees in Kyoto. The lovely Chinese-style garden has a variety of trees, plants, ponds, covered wooden bridge and traditional buildings and is meant to represent the kind of garden design that was popular in the Heian Period of Japanese history.
The garden is divided in four sections: north, south, east and west and contains plum, cherry, iris, azalea, and lilies. The garden is home to many weeping cherry trees and they were more than midway towards full bloom when I was there today. It was delightful to stroll under the weeping cherry trees.
is known for its lovely cherry blossoms in spring. The pleasant garden is located in the northern outskirts of Kyoto in the hills above Kinkakuji Temple. It is a privately owned garden covering 13,000 square meters with a variety of cherry trees to see, especially the late-flowering weeping cherry blossom, as well as azaleas, apple, rhododendron and dogwood.
Besides a lot of other flowers, bushes and trees, the Kyoto Botanical Garden contains a beautiful small forest of weeping cherry trees and somei yoshino that is popular for picnics. Furthermore, there stands a majestic weeping cherry tree next to the large lawn area in the center of the garden.
is one of the most famous temples in Japan. The awe-inspiring sight of the richly decorated golden temple that seems to float over the mirror pond is worth a visit to Kyōto alone. In combination with the numerous islands and pine trees, it looks almost surreal. The garden is an extraordinary example of a Japanese strolling garden. A path leads around the pond, offering great viewing axes.