The Japanese Garden in Kew
Written by Sophie, December 2020
For obvious reasons it’s not actually possible to visit Japan at the moment, but if you’re in London it’s possible to visit Japan in another way.
I am of course talking about the Japanese Garden in Kew Gardens. It features three distinct sections – the Garden of Harmony, the Garden of Peace and the Garden of Activity. And the centre piece of the three gardens, the Chokushi-Mon.
The Chokushi-Mon is a replica of the Karamon Gate of the Nishi Honganji temple in Kyoto. It is 80% of the size of the original and not nearly as ornately decorated, but it looks completely at home in West London. The Chokushi-Mon was built in 1910 for the Japan-British Exhibition held in White City. It is carved from hinoki wood, Japanese Cypress, a wood considered sacred and traditionally used for temples and shrines.
The Garden of Activity has a raked gravel zen garden with stone bridges and shrubbed islands. It really is similar to a garden you might find at a shrine in Japan, not surprising seeing as the whole area was designed by a Professor at Osaka University.
One theme common in Japanese gardens is the idea of seasonality. Plants and trees are specifically chosen so that no matter what time of year it is the garden will still be beautiful, and there will still be things to look at. From blossom in spring, to the brilliant red leaves in autumn.
Kew Gardens also has a replica of a Japanese Minka House – a traditional Japanese farmhouse that many people in the Japanese countryside lived in until the mid-20th century. Whilst social distancing currently means you can’t go inside the Minka House, it is still spectacular from the outside, and is surrounded by one of the largest bamboo collections in the country.
If you are missing Japan and sushi just isn’t satisfying your needs, then be sure to visit Kew Gardens!
Find out more here: https://www.kew.org/kew-gardens/whats-in-the-gardens/japanese-landscape