While London is a lovely place – it’s also a very big city. And with that comes a lot of the things people don’t love about big cities: crowds, noise, and rubbish (as the Brits say). While I obviously recommend visiting London (since, ya know, I run an entire site about it!), I also understand that it’s important to have a bit of balance during your London itinerary… just a sliver of calm or a moment of peace.
Luckily, there are a few amazing spots to do that while exploring London. There are, of course, London’s many, wonderful parks – but let’s be more specific. There are also Japanese gardens in London, and these are perhaps the best place to escape the hustle and bustle of London’s big city feel and take a few deep breaths.
I’ve been fortunate to visit many Japanese gardens in my travels, and know that they somehow manage to create a zone of zen through their design, landscaping, and the general approach people take when walking through them. Best of all, London has six Japanese gardens as of writing, and you can easily find one near your travels or where you’re staying.
Ready to contemplate the order of things with a nice stroll through serenity? Here’s a guide to London’s Japanese gardens.
Japanese Roof Garden (SOAS University of London)
If you’re looking to feel like you’ve been transported out of London for a short time but don’t have the time for a day trip, consider walking through the magical Japanese Roof Garden at SOAS University of London.
You’ll find this hidden gem tucked away on the roof of the Brunei Gallery, and it offers you stunning views of the city. It’s the perfect place to unwind and appreciate the art of Japanese gardening after a long day.
Fun Fact: The garden’s granite water basin is engraved with a Kanji character that means forgiveness, always a good reminder.
The Japanese Island Garden (Regent’s Park)
Neatly placed in the center of Regent’s Park, this picturesque garden is a true oasis in the heart of London. The Japanese Island Garden features a central pond with a small island connected by a traditional Japanese bridge known as a moon bridge (or “sori-bashi”).
Don’t be surprised if you feel deeply relaxed by the garden’s sleepy willows and lovely aquatic plants as you take in its otherworldly beauty. It’s filled with lush greenery and colorful flowers, making it a popular spot for locals and tourists alike.
Tip: Enjoy a meal at Regents Bar & Kitchen. It’s the perfect place to admire the Japanese Island Garden from afar.
Kyoto Garden (Holland Park)
The Kyoto Garden in Holland Park ticks all the boxes if you’re looking for a lush, green-filled respite amidst the city’s chaos.
This serene oasis was created in 1992 to commemorate the Japan Festival in London and donated to the city of London by the Kyoto Chamber of Commerce. With beautiful stone, a clear koi pond, and a variety of traditional Japanese plants and trees, this is the perfect place to find stillness, which is necessary, especially nowadays.
Japanese Garden (Hammersmith Park)
The Japanese Garden in Hammersmith Park is another hidden gem worth seeking out for a deep dive into some history. For starters, it’s the oldest traditional garden among all the London Japanese gardens and has been part of the Japanese-British exhibition since 1910. It was formerly named the Garden of Peace before its conversion into the public park we know and love today.
Tucked away behind the tennis courts, this beautiful space features a quaint pond, waterfall, and traditional Japanese tea house. It’s the perfect spot for a peaceful afternoon stroll or a heartwarming cup of tea with friends.
Japanese Gardens (Peckham Rye Park)
If you’re in south London, check out the Japanese Gardens in Peckham Rye Park. This tranquil oasis is home to a variety of traditional Japanese plants and trees, as well as a small pond and a charming wooden bridge.
Some of these lovely plants and trees include Japanese maple trees (Acer palmatum) with radiant red leaves in the fall, pretty pink cherry blossoms (sakura), and wistfully beautiful wisteria vines.
It’s the perfect spot for a picnic with friends, a quiet solo walk, or simply for enjoying the beauty of nature.
Japanese Landscape (Kew Gardens)
Much like the other Japanese Gardens in London, this is a must-visit destination if you love gardening. The stunning landscape features a traditional Japanese gateway and a variety of colorful plants and trees, like the great white cherry trees.
The Kew Gardens in London house three Japanese gardens, each representing a different aspect of Japanese culture. They are the Garden of Peace, the Garden of Activity, and the Garden of Harmony.
The Garden of Peace represents a traditional Japanese garden, with the Garden of Activity representing the movement of natural elements such as waterfalls and the sea. Lastly, the Garden of Harmony brings the two London Japanese gardens together to form one.
It’s the perfect place to escape London’s hustle and bustle and immerse yourself in one of London’s most authentic Japanese spaces.
And there you have it: a list of all of the Japanese gardens in London. Have any questions about these peaceful pockets of the city? Let me know in the comments below!