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7 Places to See Japanese Gardens in the U.S.
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March 3, 2020
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Travel Trivia Editorial
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If you spend most of your day behind a computer screen, you probably relish getting outside — and for good reason. Studies have proven that spending time outdoors has an incredible range of health benefits such as improving short-term memory and reducing fatigue and inflammation. Japanese gardens in particular are designed to offer a restorative experience. Luckily, you don't need to hop on a plane to get to one. You can just visit one of these beautiful Japanese gardens in the U.S.

Portland Japanese Garden, Oregon

Waterfalls, trees, and shrine in Portland Japanese Garden
Credit: photoquest7/ iStock

Anyone who wants to connect with nature shouldn't miss a chance to visit the Portland Japanese Garden. In fact, the former Ambassador of Japan to the United States once described it as "the most beautiful and authentic Japanese garden in the world outside of Japan."

This stunning, 12-acre space is surrounded by hills and features eight different gardens for you to explore. You'll find beautiful views, twisting trails, and plenty of peaceful streams. After you've gotten your fill of nature, finish your trip with a visit to the garden's authentic Japanese Tea House, where you can view a traditional tea demonstration. You can also learn about ikebana, the art of Japanese flower arranging. Throughout your visit, you can also hear the beautiful sounds of koto, a Japanese harp.

Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens, Florida

Lake at the Morikami Japanese Gardens with wooden bridge in foreground
Credit: Holly Guerrio/ Shutterstock

If you want a chance to learn about Japanese culture and explore beautiful gardens at the same time, Morikami in Florida is a great place to visit. It features six unique gardens, which are inspired by significant gardens in Japan.

If you visit the Shinden Garden, you'll find a beautiful bridge spanning a lake and connecting multiple landscaped islands. At the Karesansui Late Garden, you'll find a simpler landscape with rocks artistically arranged atop raked gravel. The Modern Romantic Garden features plenty of greenery and winding pathways.

When you've finished exploring the gardens, make your way to the Morikami Museum, which features a rotating schedule of exhibitions and programs exploring Japanese culture. Past exhibitions include Japanese bamboo baskets, paper cutouts, and traditional Japanese tattoos.

Anderson Japanese Gardens, Illinois

Fall foliage and waterfalls at Anderson Japanese Garden
Credit: Ana S. Chao/ Shutterstock

Anderson has been consistently ranked as one of the best Japanese gardens in the U.S. In fact, it was specifically inspired by the Portland Japanese Garden. In addition to its 12 acres of incredible landscapes, waterfalls, and koi ponds, the Anderson Japanese Gardens feature a wide range of workshops, lectures, and wellness classes.

In the winter, you can attend a snow-viewing tea ceremony and an onigiri workshop, where you'll learn how to make rice balls while enjoying the chilly scenery. Other activities include Tai Chi, yoga, and mushroom foraging classes or outdoor painting lessons.

SuihoEn Japanese Garden, California

Waterway and buildings at SuihoEn Japanese Garden
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Located in Los Angeles, this sunny space features the Dry Zen Garden, the Chisen Stroll Garden, and the Shoin Building. In the Dry Zen Garden, you'll find beautiful walkways and rock arrangements alongside a peaceful wisteria arbor. The Chisen Stroll Garden features waterfalls, streams, handmade stone lanterns, and plenty of flowers and greenery.

In the Shoin Building, you'll find an authentic teahouse and tea garden with beautiful views of the lake. All of the water utilized throughout the garden is reclaimed. In fact, the garden itself was built right next to a reclamation plant in order to demonstrate the myriad uses for reclaimed water. The plant cleans the water of approximately 800,000 local residents and repurposes it into the peaceful lakes and waterfalls of the Japanese garden.

Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden, New York

Pond with bridge and shrine in Japanese garden in Brooklyn
Credit: R. de Bruijn_Photography/ Shutterstock

New York really does have it all. Nestled in the heart of Brooklyn is the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, which features a wide range of different natural spaces including a beautiful Japanese garden.

The Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden is designed for people to take leisurely strolls. As you walk through the gardens, new vistas appear along your path. You'll encounter a pond surrounded by artificial hills, a small waterfall, and an island along with multiple bridges and stone lanterns. You'll also get the chance to explore a Shinto shrine.

Established in 1915, this is one of the oldest Japanese gardens in the U.S. It's worth visiting at different times of year to get the full effect. For example, see the cherry blossoms in spring and the beautiful foliage of the Japanese maples in autumn.

The Richard and Helen DeVos Japanese Garden, Michigan

Landscape of the autumn landscape in the japanese gardens at the Frederik Meijer Gardens
Credit: Michael Deemer/ iStock 

This garden is part of a larger installment known as the Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park. Unlike the Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden, the Richard and Helen DeVos Japanese Garden is quite new. It opened in 2015.

Due to its location in a sculpture park, this particular Japanese garden is home to quite a few contemporary artworks. Artist Jenny Holzer designed a site-specific work called "For the Garden," which consists of poetic messages hand-carved across multiple boulders. Visitors to the garden will also encounter "The Long Island Buddha," a large sculpture by artist Zhang Huan.

Seattle Japanese Garden, Washington

Bright autumn colors in the Seattle Japanese Garden
Credit: Roman Khomlyak/ Shutterstock

This beautiful garden attracts roughly 100,000 visitors annually. It features a path that winds through bridges, waterfalls, lanterns, and a variety of local and traditional plants. If you'd like to learn more about the specifics of the garden, you can also take a guided tour privately or in a group.

The Seattle Japanese Garden hosts numerous events throughout the year, so it's worth keeping an eye out to see if you can schedule your trip to coincide with something you'd like to see. Examples of events include the Climate Change Arts Festival, the Tanabata Star Festival, and Koi Day, where you get to feed the koi and learn more about the history of this fascinating fish.

If you like, you can also take advantage of the 40-minute tea presentation offered by the garden's Shoseian Tea House. Learning about this centuries-old art form in a traditional roji garden is a wonderful way to pause, reflect, and be truly present in the moment.