Historical Gardens

Explore the hidden waterfall in the Romantic Garden and marvel at the fact that it has only been in existence since 2001, as it appears to have been there for centuries.

Here in Roji-en, designer Hoichi Kurisu has striven to create a garden complex for the new millennium.
Its six distinct gardens are inspired by, but are not replicas of, famous gardens of Japan. Kurisu has created a unique garden conceived and constructed in the spirit of the masters.
The six historical gardens are:

  1. Shinden Garden (Heian Period, c. 9th – 12th centuries)
    The Japanese nobility adapted Chinese garden design ideals that featured lakes and islands, emphasizing informality and appreciation of nature. Such gardens were usually viewed from a boat. Side-by-side and zigzag bridges carry us over the water. Read more.
  2. Paradise Garden (Kamakura and early Muromachi Periods, 13th – 14th centuries)
    An earthly representation of the Pure Land, or Buddhist heaven. Such gardens were the first intended for strolling. Read more.
  3. Early Rock Garden (Early Muromachi Period, 14th century)
    Such gardens were often inspired by Chinese landscape paintings in ink that depicted water cascading from distant peaks into the sea or a lake. Read more.
  4. Karesansui Late Rock Garden (Muromachi Period, 15th – 16th centuries)
    Dedicated by the Homer and Martha Gudelsky Family Foundation. Karesansui means “dry landscape.” In this style of garden, rocks were arranged in a bed of raked gravel, while plants took a secondary role. The style was perfected at Zen Buddhist temples. Read more.
  5. Hiraniwa Flat Garden (Edo Period, 17th – 18th centuries)
    Evolving out of late rock gardens, flat gardens make liberal use of plant material and often visually incorporate outside elements through a design technique called “borrowed scenery” (shakkei). The stone pagoda is visible from the museum’s terrace. Read more.
  6. Modern Romantic Garden (Meiji Period, late 19th – early 20th centuries)
    Dedicated by the Kohnken Family Foundation. A garden of this type may have reflected Western influence but also drew inspiration from the direct observation of nature following a period when gardens had tended toward abstraction. The long-legged kotoji lantern mimics the form of the movable bridges of the stringed instrument called a koto. Read more.