The Japanese garden at the Adachi Museum of Art has been named as the best in the country for the ninth consecutive year, which also puts it among the most impressive in the world. The bi-monthly US magazine Journal of Japanese Gardening identified the top 50 Japanese gardens in its January edition, but singled out the Adachi museum garden, in the town of Yonago in the southern prefecture of Tottori, as the finest in the country.
The judges appraised more than 850 traditionally designed gardens before coming up with their ranking, citing the intensive grooming, constant maintenance and the attitude of the staff as setting the Adachi museum garden apart.
The Katsura Rikyu garden at the Imperial Villa in the ancient capital of Kyoto again claimed second spot in the ranking, followed by Ritsurin Park in Kagawa Prefecture.
Famed for its arched bridge and the excellence of the pruning of its pines, Ritsurin Park overtook Yokokan, in Fukui Prefecture, to take third place on the list.
Founded in 1980 by the late Adachi Zenko — who started out as a boy hauling charcoal in what is today nearby Yasugi City — the garden has been meticulously constructed to take visitors through its seasonal expressions of natural beauty, which complement the paintings that hang on the walls of the museum it surrounds.
Entering the museum, the visitor is greeted by the first of six distinct yet connected traditional gardens, which in all spread out over 165,000 square meters.
The appropriately named Reception Garden is designed to calm new arrivals and enchant them with its flowers, bird life, breezes and raked gravel.
Before reaching the Moss Garden — replete with pine trees and carefully positioned rocks where the mosses can thrive — a short detour takes in the Juryu-An Tea House, a replica of the Shokin-Tei at the Katsura Imperial Villa.
Visitors are encouraged to try the green tea as they admire a garden that has been subject to the most painstaking attention.
Like the rest of the gardens, not a leaf, rock or pine needle is out of place.
The gravel has been raked to perfection. The only sounds are of the wind and waterfalls designed to spill delicately into lower pools.
The Dry Landscape Garden derives its beauty from its harmony with nature, the central rock formation designed to remind the visitor of a mountain from which a great river — the pale gravel — flows.
In contrast, the Pond Garden has koi carp in its waters, flitting beneath stone bridges and up close to the rocks that lines its sides. Intriguingly, the designer of the carefully positioned wooden building that sits aside the route also created a “tokonoma” alcove, common to many traditionally designed homes.
Uniquely, this alcove does not feature a scroll, but is an open window onto the garden beyond, providing a living view of the plants and animal life as they go through the cycle of the seasons.
The final outdoors exhibit is the White Gravel and Pine Garden, which expresses an image painted by Yokoyama Taikan and is the perfect way to make the transition into the interior displays.