So far, London has provided nothing less than the sunny summer we all dreamt of during the dark depths of winter, with what seems to be a never-ending heatwave. With good weather, inevitably, comes a desire to get outside, soak up the sun and find out explore more of what London has to offer.
With this in mind, the Japan Nakama team thought this was the perfect opportunity to share our 5 favourite Japanese gardens (all in London) with the hope that it will encourage others to go out and take a look. We’d love to hear your thoughts and any recommendations of gardens we missed out. Enjoy (and don’t forget your sun cream).
“The garden is comprised of tranquil waterfalls, calming bodies of water and plenty of koi carp”
1. The Kyoto Garden in Holland Park
The Kyoto Garden in Holland Park was built in celebration of London’s Japan Festival, held in 1992, as a symbol of friendship between Great Britain and Japan.
Traditional in design, the garden is comprised of tranquil waterfalls, calming bodies of water and plenty of koi carp. Research shows that bodies of water have a calming impact on the human mind, making it a perfect spot to unwind and reflect.
2. SOAS Japanese Roof Garden
Positioned on top of the Brunei Gallery in a corner of Russell Square, SOAS’s Japanese Roof Garden was designed in 2001 and intended to function as a relaxing space away from the hustle and bustle of London’s busy streets below.
Dedicated to forgiveness, the garden is designed with peacefulness and meditation in mind – something to note if you do choose to visit the gardens. The garden changes from season to season, so while we recommend a summer visit, it’s definitely worth visiting in the colder months, too.
3. Hidden Waterfall and Japanese Garden Island in Regent’s Park
Perhaps slightly less known than the others, Regent’s Park boasts a truly peaceful hidden waterfall and Japanese Garden Island (who knew?!) Find the garden by passing through the Jubilee Gate in St. Mary’s Garden, follow the path right and it should be right ahead of you.
With traditional lanterns, hidden bridges and beautiful statues, Regent Park’s hidden gem is definitely worth exploring.
4. Hammersmith Park is sited on the remains of an original Japanese garden designed for the Japan–British Exhibition in 1910. The area, known as the Great White City, was initially developed for 1908 Summer Olympics and was subsequently used for a series of international exhibitions until World War I.
Little sign of the 1910 Japan–British Exhibition remains today, but the Chokushimon (Gateway of the Imperial Messenger, a four-fifths replica of the Karamon of Nishi Hongan-ji in Kyoto) was moved to Kew Gardens in 1911, where it still can be seen.
In November 1954 tennis courts and a playground were added. The remainder of the park opened in September 1955.
The Garden of Peace remains intact within Hammersmith Park; it was restored in 2008. The garden is set among bamboo and pagoda trees, and consists of two large ponds which are linked by a stone bridge. Rocks surround the garden, forming a small waterfall. A number of the original plants and trees brought from Japan in 1909 still survive.
5. Kew Gardens
Originally built for the 1910 Japanese-British Exhibition, the Japanese Gateway (or Chokushi-Mon) is a beautifully understated replica of the Nishi Hongan-ji temple in Kyoto that can be found in Kew Gardens.
Surrounded by a traditional Japanese garden, the Japanese gateway is finding if you have a trip to Kew Gardens planned.