For 1100 years Kyoto was the capital of Japan, the seat of the imperial court and the center of Japan’s traditional culture. Although it is not clear when the first garden arrangements were completed, literary evidence indicates that the tradition extends back at least twelve and a half centuries. Graced by a wealth of fine topographical features, landscape vistas and natural materials, the region afforded all the requisites necessary for creating superb gardens.

Over the centuries, certain of these gardens became renowned for their beauty at a particular season. If Kyoto can be said to have any surviving hidden treasures in this day of mass tourism, certainly these magnificent gardens hold that distinction. To visit them is certainly one of the chief pleasures of a visit to Japan’s ancient capital city.

In 2006, the autumn seemed to go on forever. It stayed warm through December and with brilliant colors everywhere I turned it looked as if a painter had taken a brush to the city. I was given the unique opportunity to photograph these special gardens on my own before any other visitors were permitted access. They were some of the happiest days I have ever spent in my life.

All photographs are available for purchase. Sizes up to 4 X 10 feet.

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Sanzen-In Sanzen-In
Sanzen-In Hoshun-In
Shimogamo Shrine