Regardless of the particular style, no aspect of a Japanese garden is ever left to chance, and each choice represents principles that have been developed over centuries.
A red bridge across a lily pond; weeping willow trees, autumn leaves and tunnels of cherry blossom; meticulously raked gravel and glistening moss in a hundred varieties of green; there aren't many nicer ways to spend an afternoon than exploring one of Japan's beautiful gardens.
Admired and copied the world over, Japanese gardens have evolved over 1,000 years as a revered art form. The gardens come in many different forms from Edo Period 'strolling gardens' created for noblemen, or raked gravel rock gardens designed to aid monks in Zen meditation. Many gardens have been in the same spot surrounding a temple or palace for hundreds of years, lovingly curated for centuries.
Niwa, the Japanese word for garden, once referred to an area cleansed and purified in preparation for the arrival of Shinto gods. In Shintoism, a god (or kami) is believed to be present in every living, organic thing from animals to rocks, wood and bamboo. Given this link between nature and religion, it's no surprise that many of the best gardens are in Kyoto, Japan's cultural capital.