Top 10 Elements For Japanese Garden


The experience of strolling in the Japanese garden is just like stepping into a sanctuary!

Quite different from other showy gardening styles, Japanese garden is dressed up with simple and quaint items.

Deeply affected by the Buddhism culture, Japanese gardening designers have been taking inspirations from zen philosophy, laying the garden in a way that overflows with strong peaceful touch and healing tranquility.

Wanting to peek into the secret sauce that accomplish this mesmerizing oriental garden style?

Here goes the top 10 elements for Japanese garden!

1:Dry Landscape (Karesansui)

Dry landscape, also known as sand garden, is a unique gardening style originates in Japan.

Strictly speaking, not all Japanese garden gets dry landscape. Only zen temples or zen gardens feature this intriguing sight.

However, this landscape is so distinctive that we cannot go without mentioning it when discussing Japanese gardens.

As its name implies, there is no water in the gardens.

Additionally, traditional gardening elements such as delicate buildings, flowering plants and bridges etc. are excluded from its design concepts as well.

Only static elements like rocks, sands and moss are kept to demonstrate the boundless universe.

The standing or lying rocks in the garden represent mountains or islands, while the raked sands stand for the flowing water in rivers, lakes or seas.

The way how the rocks are laid and sands are raked contains different connotations, which needed to be appreciated attentively.

Dry Landscaping

At the earliest time, the water,which implies life, abundances and purity in Japan, is an inherent part of Japanese gardening.

When the Buddhism gradually spread to Japan on the 6th century, the monks who admire the nihility realized some artistic conceptions from the stones and sands, and started to build some landscapes solely with rocks and sands.

In the 13th century, another Buddhist sect-Zen that originated in China was popular in Japan.

Greatly edified by the ascetical and self-disciplined spirit pursued by zen practitioners, Japanese garden designers began to exclude water, flowering plants and other traditional elements from the garden design concept.

Instead, some static elements such as evergreen trees, moss, stones and sands were applied to create a dry garden landscape.

2:Bamboo Fence

Bamboo fences are indispensable element in Japanese gardens.

In addition to raw bamboo, aluminum and plastic artificial bamboos are widely used as well nowadays because of their good decay-resistance.

Bamboo Fence

3:Garden Plants

Red maples, moss, pines are important green plants in Japanese gardens. The plants, represent new life and longevity, creating strong sense of tranquility and making the gardens look very natural.

Garden Plants

4:Stone And Wooden Garden Bridge

The bridge is a landscape with intense zen touches in the Japanese courtyard.

Even those gardens without flowing water may set with decorative stone or wooden garden bridges, which symbolize the connection of this shore to the other shore in zen doctrine.

Japanese Garden Bridge

Most Japanese wooden garden bridges are in red color.

The red color bridge is extremely visually pleasing when setting against the green plants or especially the white snows in winter.

It connects the different parts of the garden and stunningly complement the space’s oriental charms.

5:Bamboo Deer Chaser (Bird Scaring Device)

Japanese-Bamboo-Deer-ChaserAs the name suggests, it is a bird-striking device that ingeniously designed with a combination of several bamboo tubes.

Bamboo deer chaser could be traced far back into the history and was set up to drive away the deer, birds and other wild animals in ancient times.

The water flows into one bamboo tube. And after storing a certain amount of water, the center of balance of the bamboo tube will shift from one side to the another side.

As a result, the bamboo tube’s front arm will lean forward when it is filled with water, then will lean back again when it is empty and create a clear ‘clacking’ sound.

Due to the regularly knocking of the bamboo tube on the stones, deer chaser served as timing tool as well in ancient time.

Nowadays, the device is only used as a decorative item. Many people feel peaceful to the sound of bamboo tube knocking the stone.

Placing this bamboo deer chaser in the garden will make the courtyard looks more vivid and overflows with zen touches.

The Japanese Bamboo Chaser is so classical that many garden ornaments designer get inspiration from it and make some delicate water fountains in Deer Chaser’s design.

6:Wash Basin

Normally, there will be a tea room in Japanese garden. And the open space in front of the tea room is called tea court, where will locate a wash basin.

We have to wash our hands before entering the tea room. It is generally made of wood, stone or copper.

Water Basin


Japanese-SuikinkutsuIn some cases, the Japanese garden designer will dig one hollow underneath the ground near the hand washer.

The water of the wash basin can drain into this hollow. And when the water drops, the hollow will enlarge its echo and create a intriguing sound!

The structural principle is to bury one pottery pot upside down underneath the ground to form a hollow (cavity), which can accumulate a little water inside the hollow.

A hole is drilled at the bottom of the pottery pot.

When water flows into the hollow through the hole and drops onto the water surface, it will produce some ear-pleasing sound, reminiscent of silvery ringtone or sound created by Japanese lyre (koto, a 13-string instrument).

This ingenious sound system was invented by a tea ceremony master in the Edo period (Japanese historical period, 1603-1868 AD).

We can still find such system in some Japanese gardens or temples nowadays.

8:Stone Lantern

Stone lantern has not only widespread in Japanese gardens, it has won tons of fans around the world!

It is an important practice in Buddhism to offer the light of a lamp to Buddha.

The earliest stone lantern prototypes were invented in ancient China when Buddhism flourished then to hold and protect the flames used to light the lamp.

With the introduction of Buddhism from China to Japan through Korean peninsula during Asuka Period (Japanese historical era, 538 – 645 AD), stone lantern and its fabricating techniques were spread there as well.

Japanese Stone Garden Lantern

Many centuries had passed before some talented Japanese gardening designers gradually adopting the stone lanterns in garden landscaping. The practice turned out to be successful and trendy.

Stone lanterns have been keeping evolving with numerous and various designs popping out to meet the different tastes of gardeners.

Japanese stone garden lantern is so intriguing that many artists are deeply inspired and design some delicate lantern fountains by its reference as well.

9:Stone Steps

The stone steps in the Japanese garden consists of multiple sets of stones that form a path leading to the tea room or other buildings.

The stones are generally arranged in a irregularly curved way.

The Japanese garden designers pay lots of attention on the ground decoration. And the irregular stone pathway implies the hard life journey.


10:Moss Landscape

Japan is surrounded by the sea and has a humid climate, which is very suitable for the growth of moss. There are about 12,000 species of moss in the world, while about 2,500 types moss living in Japan.

As a very primitive plant, the vitality of moss is very tenacious.

The moss landscape adds attractions of secluded and peaceful to the living environment.

Moss Lawn


Above are top 10 elements for Japanese garden.

The Japanese garden is very delicate and meticulous. The stones, sands, plants etc in the garden get their own philosophical meaning, making the garden brim with endless zen feelings.

Have a better understanding of its constituent elements will surely help you better appreciate its charms.

8 thoughts on “Top 10 Elements For Japanese Garden

  1. I do love these gardens and these are ideas that I would love to use in my own garden one day. I love the japanese and the asian style gardens. They are so peaceful and yet so full of color and life. I have never seen a dry landscaping design tho, that was interesting.

    1. Hi Alexandra,

      I’m glad that my post is helpful to you. The Asian style garden is full with zen and peaceful feeling and make us relaxed in no time. Hope the ideas in this post will help you when you try to build a garden like this. Thanks!

  2. Thanks for this great post – I always feel a sense of peace walking in gardens like these. You seem like you really know your stuff here 🙂

    Have a super day!


  3. I lived in Japan for 2 years, loved the aesthetic and vibe of the gardens there, but would never have been able to name all the elements that make them so culturally distinct – fascinating! I didn’t know about the hand washers, but having been to a formal tea ceremony in Japan, I can understand how it would be an important part of the process.

    1. Hi Kirsten,
      Thanks for checking. Yes, the Japanese garden is really meticulous. Many ornaments get their own philosophical meaning. Very culturally distinct garden style!

  4. These gardens are very beautiful. I think my favorite is the Moss one. It looks like two people hugging with a blanket surrounding them. I would love to have a garden like one of the ones you mention here in my home garden. I’m especially fond of stones and water. Thanks so much for the inspiration.

    1. Hi Jen, thanks for checking this post! Do hope my article will give you some inspirations on building a zen garden. Welcome back to check more if you need more ideas!

Leave a Reply to Karina Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *