Florida’s Lush Japanese Gardens

A thousand years of Japanese landscape designs unfold at the Morikami Museum in Delray Beach

A detail from a relief on a stone lantern at the Nan-mon, or South Gate, depicts a deer, a traditional motif associated with Japan's Nara prefecture. Eduardo Rubiano Moncada
Koro-en, the Garden of Shining Dew. Eduardo Rubiano Moncada
Several footbridges span the gardens' man-made lake. Eduardo Rubiano Moncada
Local wildlife and the Japanese flora combine to create a unique environment in South Florida. Eduardo Rubiano Moncada
A pond outside the Morikami Museum's main building. Along with exhibitions, the museum hosts tea ceremonies, outreach programs and traditional Japanese festivals. Eduardo Rubiano Moncada
A view from outside the main building at the Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens. The museum's collection includes 5,000 Japanese art objects and artifacts. Eduardo Rubiano Moncada
The Bamboo Grove is part of the 200 acres of gardens that surround the main museum. The garden area features walking paths, small lakes, nature trails and park and picnic areas. Eduardo Rubiano Moncada
The Paradise Garden reflects Japanese landscape design of the Kamakura and early Muromachi periods in the 13th and 14th centuries. Eduardo Rubiano Moncada
Sculpture and path at the Nan-mon. Eduardo Rubiano Moncada
The Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens are located in Delray Beach, Florida. Keith Negley
One can peer over a wall topped with a decorative-tile border into the Nelson Family Memorial Garden, also known as the Koro-en, or Garden of Shiny Dew. Eduardo Rubiano Moncada
A quiet pond characteristic of the 13th and 14th centuries. Eduardo Rubiano Moncada
A bamboo forest towering up to 60 feet high. Eduardo Rubiano Moncada
Hoichi Kurisu, in 2010, selected defining featured integral to Japanese garden design. Michiko Kurisu
Crimson flower clusters of the spiny Crown of Thorns shrub are focal points in an earlier creation on the Morikami grounds. Eduardo Rubiano Moncada
A stroll into the gardens offers entry to a serene, ordered and visually coherent world. A raked-gravel bed in the Karesanui Late Rock Garden evokes the austere beauty of dry landscaping that surround Zen Buddhist temples in the 16th and 17th centuries. Eduardo Rubiano Moncada
Recalling vistas created in the 9th to 12th centuries for Japan's aristocracy, islands are connected by a graceful bridge. Landscape architect Hoichi Kurisu's intention was to express "ancient wisdom." Eduardo Rubiano Moncada

The Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens in Delray Beach, Florida, devoted to the showcasing of Japanese arts and culture, constitutes an oasis of tranquillity in the midst of suburban sprawl. Established in 1977, the museum—bearing the name of the Japanese-American benefactor who donated land for its site shortly before his death in 1976—features one of North America’s premier Japanese gardens.

Landscape architect Hoichi Kurisu was born in Hiroshima, educated in Tokyo and today is based in Portland, Oregon. He labored for nearly two years on his creation, completed in 2001. Kurisu established a series of six separate yet linked gardens spanning 1,000 years of horticultural tradition in Japan, from the 9th to the 20th centuries. His goal, he says, was not simply to “replicate several distinct Japanese period gardens,” but to draw “from the essence of these famous individual gardens to create one garden.”

Thomas Swick trekked Japan’s Kiso Road for Smithsonian in 2010. Eduardo Rubiano Moncada lives in New Smyrna Beach, Florida.

Get the latest Travel & Culture stories in your inbox.