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JOJG Announces 2003 Shiosai Results

Last Updated: 9/18/2003

The Journal of Japanese Gardening (JOJG) has been kind enough to allow us to republish the results of their 2003 Shiosai garden survey. The article appears below, minus the photographs:

JOJG is pleased to announce the results of our 2003 Shiosai Project. This is the first of an annual effort to identify and promote Japan's finest gardens based on quality rather than on other factors. The 2003 survey identified a total of 389 gardens. The 20 gardens listed below thus represent sites that placed in the top five percent of the whole. In a country literally jam-packed with great gardens, this is no small feat.

The big surprise of the 2003 Shiosai Project is the emergence of the Adachi Art Museum as Japan's top garden. Katsura Rikyu has always informally held that crown, but the Imperial Household Ministry's somewhat 'unfriendly' management of that site appears to have hurt Katsura's stellar image.

Other surprises include the appearance of Kanazawa's Nomura Residence at #3, and the appearance of both Nijo Castle gardens in the top 20. As JOJG expected, a few formerly unheralded gardens have made their way onto the list, thereby generating much excitement and discussion about what actually constitutes a truly 'high-quality' Sukiya Living space.

Japan's Top Gardens
  1. Adachi Art Museum, Shimane Pref.
  2. Katsura Rikyu, Kyoto
  3. The Nomura Residence, Ishikawa Pref.
  4. Renge-ji, Kyoto
  5. Yamamoto-tei, Tokyo
  6. Nijo Castle (Ninomaru), Kyoto
  7. Murin-an, Kyoto
  8. Makaya-ji, Shizuoka Pref.
  9. Shisen-do, Kyoto
  10. Ritsurin Koen, Kagawa Pref.
  11. Jiko-in, Nara Pref.
  12. Raikyu-ji, Okayama Pref.
  13. Daisen-in, Kyoto
  14. Kaisui-en (Miyako Hotel), Kyoto
  15. Minami-kan Restaurant, Shimane Pref.
  16. Yabu-no-Uchi School of Tea, Kyoto
  17. Tohkoh-en Onsen Hotel, Tottori Pref.
  18. Seiryu-en, Kyoto
  19. Gyokudo Art Museum, Tokyo
  20. Ganko Sushi Restaurant, Kyoto

Here are a few of Japan's top gardens:

1. Adachi Art Museum
Main and Plattern called the Adachi Art Museum, "A tour de force of meticulous maintenance." The Shiosai Project experts agreed. Adachi earned their #1 ranking over a period of 30 years. Take a bow.

2. Katsura Rikyu
At or near the top of every list, Katsura represents Sukiya Living at its finest.

5. Yamamoto-tei
The Shiosai Project informs us that Yamamoto-tei is the top sukiya-style garden in the Kanto region. It is located on the east side of greater Tokyo, in the Katsushika ward.

6. Nijo Castle (Ninomaru)
Located in central Kyoto, the Ninomaru garden's pond edging illustrates a bold and nearly perfectly executed gogan-ishigumi arrangement.

7. Murin-an
The Murin-an estate is one of the nicest places to relax in Kyoto.

9. Shisen-do
Located in the hills of NE Kyoto, Shisen-do is a prototype of what Anne Geissman Alene calls a "Villa-style" garden. Shisen-do's terraced upper garden offers a simple and elegant solution to the challenges of a site that slope

©1996-2002, Robert Cheetham; ©2022 Japanese Garden Research Network, Inc.
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