JAPANESE GARDEN PATHS.... How to Design and the materials to use.

Japanese Garden Paths - Design Principles

There are many types of Japanese Garden Paths.They can be made of gravel, pebbles, stepping stones or flag stones. They can run from the main gate to the approach,circle around a pond, lead to a tea house (normally with stepping stones) or run snake like from the gate to the arbor.

PATH at SHOREN-IN, KYOTO,JAPAN Shoren-in, Kyoto.jpg

The garden path should be "close to nature" not artificial or dead straight except when its purpose is to guide to a building entrance or a particular showpiece of the garden. A good trick on a flat site is to walk blind and your footprints mark the place for stepping stones. If your site is on a gradient then mimic the path worn by sheep on a farm hillside - gentle zigzags melding into the terrain.

HOJO-IKE,GARDEN PATH,PURE LAND TEMPLE,Kamakura-shi,Kanagawa Prefecture,Japan.

Hojo-ike: Garden Path

Always remember that a path in a Japanese Garden besides keeping ones feet dry is meant not only to guide the veiwer around but also to direct the veiwers senses and mind.The designer of the Japanese Garden uses paths as a means to link elements within the garden.Also the width of the paths can be adjusted to to exaggerate perspective, as the Europeans did with the height of trees in the stately homes,by widening the path near the veiwer and narrowing it into the distance. By broadening the path at a junction this encourages the observer to linger and enjoy the veiw before choosing the direction to continue.

TAIZO-IN GARDEN PATH. 02 Taizo-in path.JPG

Japanese Garden Paths - Materials to use - Stepping Stones

Materials to use in your Japanese garden can be bark or compacted soil to represent a walk thru mountains or woodlands blending in with the suroundings.Alternativly stone can be cut to shape or au natural with stepping stones being used in many Japanese Gardens as the practical means to approach a Tea House.The great tea master SEN-no-RIKYU maintained that stones should be 60% practical and 40% aesthetic.


Stepping stones should always be firm and stable under foot. Even though they may look flat and thin you will find that the flat side is face up and the rounded side is buried in the earth. Always be aware of the scale of the stepping stones being relevant to the overall size of your garden.

A GARDEN PATH AT KATSURA - One of the most famous.

23 Katsura path.JPG

to be continued.........