Kyoto Garden

Holland Park, Ilchester Place, London W8 6LU

Open daily from Daily 7.30am - 30 minutes before dusk

Holland Park is not only one of London’s finest green spaces, but also a fascinating slice of British history. Surrounding a Jacobean mansion previously hidden in the woodland of Cope Castle which dates back to the early 17th century, it was renamed Holland House and transformed into a hive of political and literary activism in the 19th century, before sadly being for the most part destroyed by bombing during WWII. 

Now stretching for over 54 acres over the Royal borough of Kensington and Chelsea, Holland Park is a vast yet peaceful green space surrounded by some of the most chic shopping to be found in London. It is divided into roughly three sections: the North side is slightly wilder woodland, the South is mainly reserved for sporting activities and the middle swath is predominantly taken up by more formal and manicured gardens. The park is also home to an orangery, giant chess set, youth hostel, and the beautiful, meditative quiet corner that is Kyoto Garden. Donated by the Chamber of Commerce of Kyoto in 1991 in commemoration of the friendly relations between the UK and Japan, the Garden is extremely carefully maintained, in line with the Japanese tradition of curating miniature plants (a very highly regarded art form). Here you will find burbling waterfalls, a wooden footbridge and graceful koi carp swimming in their own pond, as well as cherry blossom trees and even free-roaming peacocks. Japanese gardens are designed to be walked around in a clockwise direction, so begin at the main entrance, wander slowly (and quietly) around it and try to absorb as many of the details as possible. Meticulously planned, everything you see in the Garden has a specific meaning, in particular the trios that you’ll spot - the number three is important in Japanese symbolism, with the three levels of the waterfall representing the Buddhist trinity, for example.

Following the tragic nuclear disaster at the Fukushima plant in 2011, an extension was added in 2012 - the simple, zen Fukushima Garden, planted in appreciation of the help Britain offered following the accident. Definitely worth a visit for some quietude, calm, reflection and appreciation of nature’s beauty given an extra helping hand.

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