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Shōsei-en (Kikoku-tei)  (渉成園)

Shōsei-en is a garden that belongs to Higashi-Hongan-ji, the big temple of the True Pure Land School of Buddhism just north of Kyoto station. The garden is said to have belonged to the residence of the son of tennō Saga and was built in the early Heian period (794-1185). The pond most likely remained from the original design. The garden we see today, was laid out in 1641 after the shogun Tokugawa donated the land to the Hongan-ji. The garden design was probably realized by the intellectual Ichikawa Jozan and artist, tea master and aristocrat Kobori Enshu.

The garden has a pond and some tea houses, cherry trees that are a visitor magnet in spring. It is just a few meters away from the hustle and bustle of Kyoto station. While you can still hear the cars and see some of the surrounding buildings, it is good to see that these beautiful places do exist in modern Kyoto.

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eBook Coming…   


How to get there
Shōsei-en is not far from the Kyoto station. Take the north exit and walk one block north and then another block in eastern direction. It will take aproximately 7 minutes.
You can also take the city bus number 5 to Kawaramachi Shomen.

500 Yen donation is recommended

Opening hours
Mar. – Oct.: 9:00~17:00
Nov. – Feb.: 9:00~16:00

〒600-8190 Kyoto, Shimogyo Ward, Higashitamamizucho
〒600-8190 京都府京都市下京区東玉水町



This garden was built by an antique dealer between 1804 and 1830.

The name of the garden means “a garden with a hundred flowers that bloom throughout the four seasons”, and the garden is indeed known for very beautiful flowering trees and shrubs.

At the time when the garden first opened, its main feature was 360 ume trees.

In later years, many different blooming flowers and plants mentioned in classic Chinese and Japanese works of literature and poetry were collected, enabling visitors to enjoy blooming flowers throughout the year.

The garden is the only surviving flower garden from the Edo Period. What is also special about it is that it was not built as a part of a residence.

Contents of the eBook:
  • Introduction
  • History
  • Highlights
  • Flower Highlights
  • Anikas Impressions
  • Around Mukōjima-hyakkaen

12 pages full of information about the Mukōjima-hyakkaen
20 pictures of the garden

The eBook is delivered as PDF.

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How to get there
The closest metro station is Higashi-Mukojima of the Tobu-Skytree-Line. From the station, head 500m east to get to the garden.

Opening times
9am – 5pm (last entrance at 4:30)

Closed around New Year between December 29th and January 3rd.

150 Yen

JP: 東京都墨田区東向島三丁目
EN: Tokyo, Sumida-ku, Higashimukojima 3-18-3



This temple in Kyoto’s lovely Sagano district has a small moss garden. Surrounded by dense trees, it is a very quiet and relaxed place. In autumn, when the leaves change, it is especially beautiful.

The temple is also mentioned in the Japanese classic Heike Monogatari (Tale of the Heike). The dancer Gio retreated to this temple after a powerful leader of the Taira-clan ended the relationship with her. Wooden statues of her, her mother and sister and Taira-no-Kiyomori ass displayed in the temple.

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eBook coming…


How to get there
From Kyoto station, take the JR Sanin Main line towards Sonobe (園部) from platform 32, 33. Get off after 16 minutes at the sixth stop Saga-arashiyama (峨嵐山).
If you prefer to go by bus, take the Kyoto city bus No. 28 or Kyoto bus No. 71 (for Daikaku-ji, 大覚寺) from Kyoto main station and get off after 50 minutes at Saga-Shakado-mae.

From there, walk about 20 minutes towards the west.

Opening times
9am – 5pm (last admission 4:30pm)

300 yen

〒616-8435 京都府京都市右京区嵯峨鳥居本小坂町32
32 Kozakacho, Sagatoriimoto, Ukyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, 616-8435



Meet the charismatic regent Hōjō Tokimune and Zen master Mugaku Sogen and eavesdrop on their Zen conversations. Mongol invasions, Buddha’s tooth, and a forgotten Sutra roll – the founding story of Engaku-ji temple gives you a direct insight into the military and political challenges of the Kamakura period.

Engaku-ji temple is the second most important temple in the Kamakura Zen temple mountain system. It is situated in North Kamakura (Kita-Kamakura 北鎌倉). The Kita-Kamakura station is actually on the former temple grounds and the train line cuts off the temple entrance and pond from the main grounds. It used to have 40 sub-temples, nowadays there are 18. The temple was named after a Sutra roll (a copy of the Sutra of Perfect Enlightenment) that was found in a chest unearthed when the construction works on the temple began in 1277. Engaku means „Perfect Enlightenment“ (円覚, engaku).

Actually, the temple was planned to be built for the Chinese Zen master Lanxi Daolong. Unfortunately, he died before the temple could be finished. Instead, Hōjō Tokimune decided that Engaku-ji temple was devoted to the victims of the battles against the Mongol invasions in 1274 and 1281. Legend has it that white deer appeared on the temple grounds and listened to priest Sogen’s first sermon at the opening ceremony. This was interpreted as a good omen for the temple. Thus the temple received the mountain name ‘Auspicious Deer Mountain’ – Zuiroku-San (瑞鹿山). A mountain name (山号 – San-gō) is traditionally given to temples of the Zen school – one reason is to tell them apart easily, as some temples in different areas carry the same name.

  • Introduction
  • Historical background – Kamakura period
  • History of the temple
  • The temple and gardens
  • Jenny’s impressions
  • Eating and Drinking
  • How to get there
  • Literature

14 pages
56 illustrations
14.7 MB

The eBook is delivered as PDF.

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How to get there
By train
Yokusuka Line between Kamakura and Tokyo, Kita-Kamakura station.
The train stops directly in front of the temple. Another option is to take a long walk from Kamakura station to Kita-Kamakura.

Opening times
Apr – Oct 08:00 – 17:00
Nov – Mar 08:00 – 16:00

Entrance fee
300 Yen

Yama-no-uchi 409, Kamakura

Japanese garden paths – Part 2

Japanese garden paths - Part 2(通路)

Stepping stones are called “tobi-ishi“ (飛石) in Japanese. The literal translation is “Flying stones” or “Skipping stones”. Walking on a stepping stone path requires much more attention than walking on a paved surface – the visitor has to make tiny jumps to get from one stone to another. This influences the way a visitor experiences the garden. While it is possible for two or more people to comfortably walk next to each other on neatly laid out paths and maybe have a conversation, a stepping stone path forces the visitors to go in line, one after the other. This is one reason why tea gardens often have stepping stones. While walking down the path to the tea house, the guests have time to “arrive” in the garden, leave their everyday life behind and prepare mentally for the tea ceremony to come.

Tea master Sen no Rikyu (千利休) is said to have introduced the tobi-ishi path – he did not like that sandals and shoes became dirty when walking on the bare soil. He also recommended that the stepping stones are 6cm higher than the ground. Other tea masters after him preferred them to be 5cm (Furuta Oribe) and 3cm (Kobori Enshu).

The first part of this eBook describes different path patterns, the second part will deal with Trump Stones (Yaku-ishi) – stones that have a specific role in the garden. The last part will introduce four Japanese gardens with beautiful stepping stones.

  • Introduction
  • Choku-uchi paths (直打)
  • Ōmagari (大曲)
  • Chidori-gake (千鳥掛)
  • Gan-uchi, Gankake (雁打、雁掛)
  • Fumiwake-ishi (踏分石)
  • Garan-ishi (伽藍石)
  • Fumi-ishi (踏み石)
  • Kutsunugi-ishi (沓脱石)
  • Kyaku-ishi (客石)
Extra pages for these gardens:
Jōmyō-ji (浄妙寺)
Raikyū-ji (頼久寺)
Ōhashi-ke (大橋家庭園)
Nanzen-ji (南禅寺)

13 pages filled with information about Japanese garden paths
53 beautiful pictures of tobi-ishi and Japanese karesansui gardens

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Elements & Explanations

Auspicious plants in Japanese Gardens

Auspicious plants in Japanese Gardens(縁起の良い植物)

There are various plants all over the world with special meanings.
Like lily stands for purity or is a flower, that is used to honor the deceased, or daisy stands for innocence and loyal love.

In Japan, there are plants with auspicious meanings too. They are called “Engi no ii” plants 縁起の良い as a sign of luck or a good omen.

How this plants got their particular meaning, how they are used and why you should plant them in your garden, you will find in our eBook.

  • Introduction
  • Japanese “fuusui”
  • Plants:
  • Heavenly Bamboo
  • Hiiragi
  • Japanese Laurel
  • Japanese Apricot
  • Pagoda Tree
  • Satsuki Azalea
  • Spirea
  • Bottlebrush
  • Crape Myrtle
  • Sarcandra
  • Bitter Orange
  • Rhododendron
  • Camellia
  • Christmas Berry
  • Notes

11 pages with lots of information about the origin of Japanese flower’s names, their meaning and various descriptions of Japanese traditions.
mobi 19MB

  The eBook is delivered as PDF.

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Customer’s Voice

“Auspicious plants in the garden”. The title alone had me intrigued from the beginning. This e-book explains very clearly how plants used in Japanese gardens got their auspicious meanings; what they represent if you like and why you should plant them in your garden.
The layout of the book is straight forward and easy to follow. I love how both the Japanese and English names are given for each plant. The example pictures representing each plant are beautifully shot and are taken in a number of different settings.
I feel people who are new to Japanese gardens and those who are more familiar with the plants used would both gain a great deal of knowledge from this e-book. A thoroughly enjoyable read and something I know I’ll be referring back to from time to time.


Elements & Explanations

Garden Finder

  • Top >
  • Garden Finder Overview

Garden Finder

Welcome to the Garden Finder! There are so many big and small, calming and exciting, famous and secret gardens in Japan, it’s easy to lose track. The Garden Finder helps you to get the bigger picture of Japan’s garden landscape. For exploring a specific part of Japan, you can click on the area name on the map or choose “Other regions”. If you want to find gardens from a particular historical period, click the timeline and you are ready to explore. You can find more explanations on the help page.

Find by Area

  • Kyoto Area
  • Tokyo Area
  • Kamakura Area
  • Other Regions

Find by Style

  • Pond strolling garden
  • Dry landscape garden

Find by Period

  • Heian 794-1192
  • Kamakura 1192-13332
  • Muromachi 1336-1573
  • Azuchi-Momoyama 1573-1603
  • Edo 1603-1868
  • Meiji 1868-1912
  • Taishō 1912-1926
  • Shōwa 1926-1989
  • Heisei 1989-

Japanese Garden Term Glossary

Japanese Garden Term Glossary(造園用語集)

You feel overwhelmed by all the garden specific terms in books about Japanese gardens? The glossary at the end is helpful, but you still do not know exactly how those garden elements look like?
Real Japanese Gardens’ Garden Term Glossary comes with explaining pictures to nearly every term explained, Kanji, Hiragana and their reading. In this volume, we focused on popular elements, architectural styles, and tools used in Japanese gardens.

This is the special Christmas Edition 2018, which will only be available for a short time!
The next version will be published in 2019.


This eBook features:
61 common Japanese garden terms with explanations.
56 explaining pictures.

Overview of Japanese time periods from Asuka period until Heisei period.
  •  Click to view details

eBook Coming Soon…

Find by Period (Heisei Period)

Find by Period

 Return to Overview

Discover Japan’s gardens by the historical period they were built in.
Click on the period and see the gardens on the time line. When the exact founding dates of a garden are unknown,
we placed them in the middle of the time line.

  • Exciting Gardens: This category collects all the gardens that get you excited as soon as you enter the front gate.
    Wonderful views, an ever changing landscape, picture-perfect arrangements and a lot of things to discover…
  • Calming Gardens: Gardens that calm you, soothe your soul and let you take a break from everyday life are collected in this category.
  • Heian 794-1192
  • Kamakura 1192-13332
  • Muromachi 1336-1573
  • Azuchi-Momoyama 1573-1603
  • Edo 1603-1868
  • Meiji 1868-1912
  • Taishō 1912-1926
  • Shōwa 1926-1989
  • Heisei 1989-

Heisei Period  (平成時代・1989-)



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