Zen gardens, an exquisite art of serenity

“The sense of peace and serenity” is quoted by those standing in front of a Japanese-styled garden. Therein, Japanese rock gardens or Zen gardens, which are meditation gardens where white sand replaces water; roji, simple, rustic gardens with teahouses where the Japanese tea ceremony is conducted. This type of Japanese garden must have something very especial, generates a miniature stylized landscape by means of carefully composed arrangements of stones, water elements, moss, pruned trees along with bushes, and makes use of stones or even sand which can be raked in order to symbolize ripples in water. In this article, The Finest Magazine would like to bring you to those gardens all over the world and then, you will give out your own true feeling.

Such gardens were firstly developed in Japan in the 8th century and often mimicked the gardens of China’s Song Dynasty. Tiny lakes and islands covered with moss and precisely manicured grasses and shrubs combined with larger rocks and gravel beds intended to represent nature’s spirit on a more intimate scale.

During the 14th century, Classical Zen gardens that had been created in Rinzai Zen Buddhist temples began to showcase a simpler style incorporating large boulders and painstakingly groomed gravel. These rock gardens, also known as dry landscape gardens or karesansui, contain elements that are intended to represent larger landscape and inspire meditation and contemplation. Large stones often show the epitome of mountains or mountain formations or waterfalls, and the raked pebbles evoke watery waves.

The place which is contained the most beautiful Zen gardens in Japan perhaps is the Kyoto. When coming to the former imperial capital of Japan, you can visit some famous Zen gardens.


The Zen Buddhist temple of Saiho-ji in Kyoto is so well known for its moss that it is often dubbed the Moss Temple. It consists of three islands linked by turf bridges over a pond. The southernmost island of the pond is called Kasumi-jima (Misty Island) or Naga-jima (Long Island). When the temple was founded in the 1300s, it was covered with sparkling white gravel.


Daitoku-ji is a separate world within Kyoto – a world of Zen temples, perfectly raked gardens and wandering lanes. It’s one of the most rewarding destinations in this part of the city, particularly for those with an interest in Japanese gardens. The temple serves as the headquarters of the Rinzai Daitoku-ji school of Zen Buddhism.


The rock garden at the temple of Ryoan-ji in northwest Kyoto is thought to be one of the finest Zen gardens in Japan. Totally flat, it is thought to date back to the late 15th century and contains no trees or shrubs. The wall covered by the weeping cherry in this picture is of a type known in Japan as abura-dobei, in which clay has been mixed with rapeseed oil and brine for extra durability.

The traditional Zen gardens have been developed by architects in other countries as new trend in landscape design for its unique beauty.

Bloedel Reserve, U.S.A

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This 150-acre preserve at the northern tip of Bainbridge Island (35 minutes by ferry from Seattle) is a mix of pristine second-growth forest and meticulously landscaped gardens. The self-guided loop trail takes roughly two hours and leads you through a bird refuge that’s home to trumpeter swans, great blue herons, and kingfishers; across hand-hewed wooden bridges and through fern-choked forest; and into a Japanese garden where leaves fall gracefully among wooden gates. The path eventually ends at a grand mansion, the former private residence of the Bloedel family-prominent in the timber industry’s forest-conservation efforts during the 1940’s and 50’s.

Portland Japanese Garden, U.S.A

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Borrowing from Buddhist, Shinto, and Taoist philosophies, the late landscape architect Takuma Tono created a garden true to the traditions of his native Japan. Stone, water, and plants harmonize in the five distinct gardens of this 5.5-acre oasis near the Rose Gardens in Washington Park. Bridges, pagodas, and an authentic teahouse punctuate the landscape of native plants and Japanese imports.

Hamilton Gardens, New Zealand

Spread over 50 hectares in the southeast of the city centre, Hamilton Gardens incorporates a large park, cafe, restaurant and extravagant themed enclosed gardens. There are separate Italian Renaissance, Chinese, Japanese, English, American and Indian gardens complete with colonnades, pagodas and a mini Taj Mahal. Equally interesting are the sustainable Productive Garden Collection, fragrant herb garden and precolonisation Maori Te Parapara garden. Look for the impressive Nga Uri O Hinetuparimaunga (Earth Blanket) sculpture at the main gates. Recent additions include a Tudor-style garden and a tropical garden with more than 200 different warm climate species.

St. Mungo Museum of Religious Life and Art, Scotland

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Set in a reconstruction of the bishop’s palace that once stood in the cathedral forecourt, this museum audaciously attempts to capture the world’s major religions in an artistic nutshell. The Zen Garden at the back of St Mungo Museum of Religious Life and Art was the first purpose built Zen Garden in the UK.

Japanese Tea Garden, U.S.A

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Since 1894, this picturesque 5-acre garden and bonsai grove has blushed with cherry blossoms in spring, turned flaming red with maple leaves in fall, and lost all track of time in the meditative Zen Garden.

The journey doesn’t stop here, because the feeling for Zen gardens will be kept on your mind and help you to relax and recharge full of energy before re-entering your crazily busy world!

Curated by The Finest Magazine