Japanese Garden Elements

A visit to a Japanese garden is usually accompanied by feelings of peace, calmness, and tranquillity. For most people, it is a meditative experience that could relax the mind. Now you might wonder, what are the Japanese Garden Elements that bring these feelings?

Well, Japanese gardens have a rich history. The elements of Japanese gardens have not evolved a lot from several hundred years. Even in the past, these gardens were designed primarily to make peaceful meditation possible.

Certain aspects of Japanese gardens work together in an uncluttered and simple manner, to create that unique meditative vibe. And since all these elements are native to Japanese culture, you will not find them in western-themed gardens.

Are you looking for the best Japanese garden ideas? Well, you have arrived at the right place.

In this article, we put together certain important aspects and elements of Japanese gardens. Along with that, we also feature some products that might help you in giving your backyard the same vibe.

So, without further ado, let us get into it.

Water Elements 


Water streams are a notable Japanese garden symbolism. This is because running water is symbolic of energy and movement. Hence, it is a special part of Japanese garden elements. Since neither humans nor plants can survive without water, it symbolizes life in Japanese gardens.

Typically, these gardens will feature undertones of water streams running over rocks or falling into a nearby pond. Such subtle sounds create a very peaceful environment, and masks all the distracting traffic sounds coming from outside your house.

Where Western-themed gardens feature water fountains, their main purpose is to bring about a water show. But fountains are not common in Japanese gardens, rather these gardens include running water streams.

You will notice this in all types of Japanese gardens. So, in case you are planning to renovate your backyard into a Japanese garden, do consider building a running water stream.

With that, do not forget to include some Koi in the water. Koi is a colorful carp fish that reflects amazing colors and gives life to your garden. Furthermore, these fishes are highly playful after they get tamed.

Lighting Elements 

Lighting elements are extremely important in every Japanese garden design layout. In the past, this was achieved with the help of stone lanterns due to their practical nature.

Furthermore, the historic Japanese garden also featured an intelligent candle placing system. It was simply a part of the Japanese garden design principles. However, today, lighting in Japanese gardens is mostly for decorative purposes.

Modern Japanese gardens hence feature lanterns that contain electrical lighting rather than candles. This is done to fulfill the condition of including all major Japanese garden elements.

In case you are looking for Japanese lanterns, there are many options in the market. For instance, check out this Japanese IP65 Waterproof Outdoor Lamp. Rated at 240 Volts, you can place this waterproof lamp on tables, floors, walls, and rocks.

Furthermore, this lamp is fully waterproof. This means that even if you attach it near a running stream of water, it will work safely.

Featuring vintage and retro Japanese design, this lamp is a must addition to your Japanese garden. Placing multiple of these in various corners of your garden can help you in achieving the essential Japanese garden elements for lighting.



Even though these decorative pieces originated from China, they have been a part of many Japanese gardens too. So, a Pagoda has more or less become a Japanese garden symbolism too.

But what are pagodas? Simply put, these are decorative pieces made of stone that do not typically exceed a height of 3 meters.

These purely decorative pieces come in various heights. While larger Japanese gardens can have huge pagodas, you certainly do not need giant structures in your small Japanese themed garden.

Overall, smaller pagodas such as the Design Toscano 28 Inch Pagoda fit into smaller gardens much better. This Pagoda has a height of 28 inches which is neither too big nor too small. It is just perfect for the medium-sized Japanese gardens.

While this Pagoda stands just about 2 meters tall, it has a smaller footprint of 6 inches. Along with that, its green bronze color truly adds a lot of life to the garden.

An alternative option is the OwMell Japanese Style Pagoda. While this pagoda is much smaller in comparison to the other option, it can also be used as a candle lantern. Furthermore, you can place multiple of these in your Japanese garden to achieve a truly distinct vibe.



Let us not forget that flowers are one of the most important parts of every garden. Without them, a garden would be incomplete.

And hence, it is not surprising that flowers are also an essential element in every Japanese garden design layout.

But of course, there are thousands of different types of flowers. Which one should you choose for your Japanese garden? Well, since you are concerned with Japanese gardens, it is important to choose flowers that come from Japan.

This is very essential. Though, a big number of Japanese plants originated in China. So, plants and flowers from both these regions would work fine. Some examples include:

  • Azaleas and Rhododendrons
  • Wisteria
  • Camelias
  • Hydrangea

You could also get certain ornamental trees that feature booms of plums and cherries. Since pink, white, and green blossoms are very common in Japan, try to include such elements in your Japanese garden too.

While you are choosing flowers, do not forget to include a Classic Japanese Ceramic Planter. These flowerpots feature a Japanese design and can be seen very commonly in Japanese gardens.

Typically, in every Japanese garden design principles, such flowerpots are placed alongside the pathways. So, include them in your Japanese garden to achieve the authentic Japanese vibe.

Maple Trees 


Now, let us consider the most important tree for your Japanese garden. The hills and natural gardens in Japan are famous for their amazing palettes of oranges and reds that come from the Maple trees.

The biggest benefit is that Maple trees can shade the entire pathways in the garden when they are planted on the sides. Along with that these trees also shed the leaves which carpet the entire garden in attractive shades.

At the same time, planting Maple trees alongside water streams can further create a very heavenly look. These trees would shade the water stream running underneath, while occasionally shedding the brightly colored leaves in the water.

You can easily buy some Japanese Maple Seeds in the market. Though, you may need the assistance of someone who knows how to work with gardens (unless you know what you are doing, of course).

Japanese Pine 

Apart from the plum, cherry, and maple trees that give a seasonal texture, another one of the important Japanese garden elements is the Japanese Pine tree. These trees are different from other tree types and can prominently be found in Japanese gardens. 

Two types of Japanese pine trees are the most common. Firstly, we have the Red Japanese pine tree (Pinus Densiflora-Akamatsu). Secondly, there is the legendary Black pine tree (Pinus thunbergii – kuromatsu).

Unlike the other Japanese trees, pine trees may not be the flashiest. Yet, they cover the ground well and improve the landscapes in Japanese gardens.

Almost all types of Japanese gardens feature pine trees. Of course, you could get artificial varieties of these trees, but they do not look as good as the natural tree itself.

Furthermore, before you sow the Japanese Pine tree seeds in your garden, note that these plants require some good care. Without which, it will not be possible for you to maintain them and the plants will simply die out.

Sand Garden 

Yet another essential element of Japanese gardens is the mini sand garden. Also referred to as a zen garden, this part of Japanese gardens include very light-colored gravel or sand. Such areas in a Japanese garden require regular maintenance and cleanliness.

If you look at the best Japanese garden examples, you will notice that all of them have a small zen space. However, these zen spaces or sand gardens must be kept free from falling leaves or other materials.

That is exactly what the beauty of sand gardens is. No matter how painstaking the task is, they must always be kept 100% clean. Along with that, the design layout of such spaces in Japanese gardens also features special rakes.


Of course, no garden is complete without a lusciously designed pathway in between. No matter how small or big your Japanese garden is, or what your Japanese garden design layout is, solid pathways can be a game-changer. 

Pathways are simply elements that are placed intelligently near the most attractive parts of the garden, to slow the visitors down. As a result of this, visitors can take a few minutes to appreciate the beauty of the garden around them.

We can see similar elements in western gardens also. And Japanese gardens are not an exception either.

The pathways in Japanese gardens do not intend to lead you to the end. Rather, they lead you to different checkpoints that you may otherwise miss.

For instance, it is common for pathways to be located near the water streams, allowing you to carefully examine the colorful fishes in the water. Or perhaps, you may find a pathway alongside a trail of cherry blossom trees.

When it comes to the design of pathways in Japanese gardens, different materials can be used. The best Japanese garden examples feature pathways made from either gravel or stones. This is because these materials are commonly available and are not expensive at all.



Lastly, we’ve got bamboo. It is one of the most effective Japanese garden ideas that you could have.

Did you ever walk in a Japanese garden on a windy day? If yes, then you must have heard the rustling sound of bamboo sprouts as wind flows through them. This adds a sense of tranquillity and calmness to the Japanese gardens.

Furthermore, bamboo is very easy to grow. It grows quickly, without much care, and has lateral roots. Hence, it will not disturb any other plants nearby.

With that, many gardens also feature harvested bamboo. They use them in the form of:

  • Washing ladles
  • Deer scarers
  • Drinking cups
  • Flower supports
  • Screens
  • Fences

If you are looking for some harvested bamboo for your Japanese garden, visit your nearest garden center or nurseries. There, you can find plenty of bamboo options in various lengths and thicknesses.

Though, if you have some space available, you can grow your bamboo and harvest it from time to time to bring it to some use.


When you add a running water stream or a small point in your Japanese garden, do not forget to add bridges. Typically, Japanese gardens feature very specific types of curved bridges that go across streams or ponds.

Along with that, designers also use them as a structural feature that anchors the entire scene. Do not forget to attach these waterproof LED String Lights along the fences of the bridge. While this is an optional step, it can certainly help you in achieving that dreamy vibe during the evening.

Apart from bridges, stepping-stones are also very common in Japanese gardens. However, they are not suitable for pets or children around because they can be quite slippery at times.

Though, the biggest benefit of stepping-stones is that it makes you feel like you are walking on the water surface. These too act as a structural element.

Regardless of the type of bridge that you are getting for your Japanese Garden, make sure that it is sturdy enough to support the weight of at least 10 people at a time.

Of course, it is not likely that 10 people will stand on together, but you consider it as a safety precaution.

Overall, bridges are one of the most important Japanese garden elements and can be a total game changer for your garden!

Japanese Garden Elements
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Japanese Garden Elements
Wondering what to include in your Japanese Garden? Check out these most important aspects of Japanese Garden Design.
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