Visiting the Gardens

Traditional Japanese gardens surround Japan House. These gardens are very different than Western gardens, with a focus on the natural landscape, utilizing plants, rustic stone, and water. Instead of bright color and symmetry, these gardens focus on green foliage and natural shapes of plants. The design of the gardens creates an extraordinarily peaceful and tranquil environment.

Planning Your Visit

The gardens are free and open to the public from dawn to dusk, spring through fall. You are always welcome to walk through the gardens on your own. For safety reasons, the tea garden with its rocky path is closed during the winter.

Tea Garden

The present-day Japanese Tea Garden has a history dating back to the sixteenth century and the great developer and teacher of the tea ceremony, Sen-no-Rikyu (1522-91). Before then, Japanese gardens were not so much for walking but more for viewing from nearby buildings or from boats on the garden ponds (Heian period 794-1185, and later). The Tea Garden established a number of elements such as lanterns, stepping stones, bamboo fences, and water basins which were an enormous influence on Japanese landscaping to follow, especially in the expansive Stroll Garden (Kayushiki) style built by the regional rulers (Daimyo) for their pleasure and as evidence of their importance.

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Dry Garden

When Westerners think of Japanese gardens, it is usually only one garden that comes to mind, an area of raked sand or crushed rock interspersed with a few large rocks and a scarcity of plants, or none at all. To Westerners, it is thought of as contemplative, mysterious, or unexplainable. The Dry (Karesansui) Garden (often erroneously called Zen) is a garden that does not fit the Westerner’s mind of a garden.

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Garden Visitor Etiquette

  • Maintain safe social distancing and wear a mask around others
  • Be respectful of other visitors and the gardens
  • Please do not climb the trees or stand in the bushes
  • Please do not pick or step on flowers and other plants
  • Pets must be on leashes
  • Clean up after your pets
  • Do not let pets roam in the tea garden or dry rock garden
  • Garbage cans are located at the North and South Parking lots
  • Please stay on the paths
  • Please stay out of the dry rock garden
  • Please do not put rocks in the tsukubai (water feature in tea garden)
  • Fishing and swimming are not allowed
  • Do not bring fireworks, furniture, or grills to the gardens
  • Bike racks are available at both North and South parking lots. For accessibility, please do not leave bikes in the gardens or block the paths.

We ask that visitors be respectful to our requests to keep you safe and keep the Japan House gardens beautiful! Thank you!

Getting to Japan House