"I would very heartily recommend a subscription to JOJG if you have the slightest interest in the gardens of Japan.  There is nothing else like it.  The articles are succinct, lucid, marvelously illustrated, and entirely free of the pseudo myths and free-floating mumbo-jumbo one encounters in most books on the subject."

Philip Metcalf, VA water garden specialist.

  Japanese Garden Journal

2004 Shiosai Rankings

Once again, The Adachi Art Museum tops the list of Japan’s Finest Gardens!
JOJG is pleased to announce the 2004 results of our ground breaking Shiosai Project. This is an ongoing effort to identify and promote Japan’s finest gardens based on quality rather than on other factors. The 2004 survey identified a total of 631 gardens. The 25 gardens listed here thus represent sites placing in the top four percent of the whole.

Adachi Art Museum (photo, right) continues to reign as Japan’s top garden. Rural prefectures such as Shimane, Ishikawa, and Shizuoka are starting to emerge as garden hotspots. Japanese Inns are rapidly moving up in the rankings, proving that ryokan gardens are still very much an undiscovered treasure. In Japan the Shiosai Project has recently received major TV and newspaper exposure, generating much excitement and discussion about what actually constitutes a “high-quality” Sukiya Living space.

1. ADACHI MUSEUM OF ART   (Museum, Shimane Prefecture)
Main and Platten 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   (Imperial Villa, Kyoto)
At or near the top of every list, Katsura represents Sukiya Living at its finest.

3. YAMAMOTO-TEI   (Neighborhood Retreat, Tokyo)
This neighborhood day retreat continues to impress with its relaxed and graceful atmosphere.  For 100 yen visitors can stay as long as they’d like.  If you want to experience Sukiya Living at its finest, this place is hard to beat. (see JOJG #32)

4. MURIN-AN   (Estate, Kyoto)
The Murin-an estate is one of the nicest places to relax in Kyoto, with a graceful sukiya-style home overlooking a gentle stream.

5. THE NOMURA RESIDENCE   (Former Residence, Kanazawa)
Located in Kanazawa’s Nagamachi district, this Edo-period home offers an enclosed garden sanctuary with waterfalls and a koi pond that extends right up under the home’s engawa.

6. RENGE-JI   (Temple, Kyoto)

7. NIJO CASTLE   (Palace, Kyoto)
Located in central Kyoto, the Ninomaru garden’s pond edging illustrates a bold and nearly perfectly executed gogan-ishigumi arrangement.

8. MINAMI-KAN RESTAURANT   (Restaurant, Shimane Prefecture)
This restaurant and ryokan is located beside a waterway in Matsue City. Minami-kan’s beautiful dry garden offers a clean, elegant atmosphere coupled with near-perfect garden maintenance.

9. SANYO-SOH   (Ryokan Comlex, Shizuoka Prefecture)
Donald Keene called Sanyo-soh “a masterpiece of modern sukiya-style architecture.” Located in Izu-nagaoka, the ryokan complex consists of about 20 guesthouses, all arranged around an expansive lawn and central lake.

10. SEIRYU-EN   (Semi-public Garden, Kyoto)
Kyoto’s best-kept garden secret is located on the grounds of Nijo Castle, behind Ninomaru Palace. Ordinary tourists can view the garden from the side. If you come along on JOJG’s garden tour, we’ll take you into the heart of this special garden for a front row seat.

11. KOH-KOKU-JI   (Temple, Shimane Prefecture)
This modest garden is situated above the town of Hirata, west of Matsue City. It overlooks a water reservoir, with forested mountains beyond. At first glance Koh-koku-ji might not impress. But have a seat and give it 20 minutes to work its magic, and you will leave refreshed.

12. GYOKUDO ART MUSEUM   (Art Museum, Tokyo)
Wow! Wild mountains and a stunning cascading river... You’ll never believe that this site is actually located in western Tokyo. You’ve got to see it to believe it.

13. HIROSHIMA SEKI-TEI   (Ryokan Complex, Hiroshima Prefecture)

14. MAKAYA-JI   (Temple, Shizuoka Prefecture)
Visiting this garden is not easy. It requires a day’s trek, but your long journey is rewarded by a stunning layout of tsukiyama berms and classic rock compositions. For the serious stone lover, this is a “must see” garden.

15. RITSURIN KOEN   (Park, Kagawa Prefecture)
This large stroll garden is located in Takamatsu on the island of Shikoku. It is well known for its arched bridge and excellent pine pruning.

16. SHISEN-DO   (Former Residence, Kyoto)
Located in the hills of NE Kyoto, Shisen-do is a prototype of what some experts call a “Villa-style” garden. Shisen-do’s terraced upper garden offers a simple and elegant solution to the challenges of a site that slopes down from the house.

17. RAIKYU-JI   (Temple, Okayama Prefecture)

18. DAISEN-IN   (Sub-temple, Kyoto)

19. SHIRAKAWA-IN   (Teacher's Retreat, Kyoto)
This hotel-like facility serves as a teachers’ retreat, but tourists can stay here when space is available. Shirakawa-in’s relaxed and unassuming atmosphere perfectly matches the human scale and offer a fine example of Sukiya Living in the heart of Kyoto.

20. MIYAKO HOTEL "KASUI-EN"   (Hotel, Kyoto)
The 7th floor of Kyoto’s Miyako Hotel has been developed as a rooftop annex called “Kasui-en.” Excellent architecture throughout.

21. KAIKA-TEI   (Ryokan, Fukui Prefecture)

22. GANKO SUSHI RESTAURANT   (Restaurant, Kyoto)
At night this former estate becomes a magical place, with graceful lighting and a wide sparkling stream. An after-dinner stroll through this garden is always a delight.

23. KI-UN KAKU   (Former Estate & Ryokan, Kanagawa Prefecture)

24. JIKO-IN   (Temple, Nara)

25. SHIMIZU-EN   (Public Garden, Niigata Prefecture)