Okochi Sanso

Another garden we saw in Japan is called Okochi Sanso, near the Arashiyama Bamboo Forest on the outskirts of Kyoto.


Okochi Sanso was once the home of a Japanese movie star, Denjiro Okochi.


Who is that, you ask? Well, if you’re a fan of silent Japanese Samurai movies, you wouldn’t have to ask. He was a leading actor in films for more than 30 years starting in the 1920s. He was particularly well known for his acting in a number of Samurai sword fighting movies.


His home is now open to the public, though there is an admission fee of about $10.


I was trying to think if any deceased American movie actors left a garden as part of their legacy to the public. Couldn’t think of any. We need more famous movie actors to be known for their gardening.


We noticed that some of the trees were starting to change color


This is a garden built on the slopes of a mountain and much of it is on a pretty steep incline.


What I remember best about this garden was how it used views of the surrounding terrain to create a feeling of majestic spaciousness – though the garden itself is only about 5 acres.


Most of the garden was wooded, and there were plenty of intriguing plants to examine if you looked down.


Dappled light combined with lush greens had a peaceful effect.


Broad vistas alternated with a sense of enclosure.


Denjiro included a number of Buddhist shrines as part of this garden.


A large area was devoted to a moss garden.


So tranquil!


Japanese Maple.


A good gate creates a nice feeling of suspense, doesn’t it?


This view consists entirely of property outside the garden.


Onward and upward.


Here’s the highest point in Okochi Sanso. A pavilion lets you rest and take in views of mountain, forest, and city.


And now for the walk back down.



When you come to the end of the garden path, you are invited to sit on a porch and offered cold green tea and some sort of sweet.


You can sip your tea and look out at the bamboo forest.

I believe that’s the end of posts about our Japanese trip. Good thing spring is coming and stuff is stirring in the garden!

39 Comments on “Okochi Sanso

  1. There is something very tranquil about the Japanese gardens you have show, but especially this one. I love the greenery (after a hot dry summer here, greenery is welcome) and the curving paths and just the attention to detail.
    Very nice to think of a movie star using his money so productively.

  2. I so enjoy the mosses and the pathways graceful among the plants and stones and trees. The giant bamboo are impressive! Love the gate, as well. Quite a legacy was left so many! (Have you visited Portland, Oregon’s Japanese Garden? We think it’s fabulous, and is authentic.)

    • Yes, we were at the Portland Japanese garden about two years ago, with the Portland Garden Bloggers Fling. We thought it was very beautiful! If you search, I’m pretty sure Jason posted about it.

  3. This is a lovely garden that I have never heard of before. The pathways create the feeling of distance and even space, and the dense greenery with open spots for moss or shrines in between are very clever. I have enjoyed this series of posts so much Jason. (And Judy!) Thanks!

    • What you don’t see here is the sweat dripping off our faces! It was incredibly hot and humid. I’m really enjoying looking back at the photos without all the heat.

      • A friend of mine who lives in Tokyo but is originally from Germany ALWAYS comes here to visit family in August to avoid the heat and humidity!

  4. Those views…wow. The paths are so neat and tidy. They clearly draw you along the way. I would love to have a moss garden. I get excited when I see one as nice as this one. It takes a lot of effort to keep all the debris from trees shrubs etc off the moss. I have developed a penchant for Japanese lanterns and this garden has several. I guess I will have to just keep collecting pictures of them. They don’t exactly go with my garden style. I am sure if I found a really beautiful one I could afford it would find a place in my garden. I like those little prayer huts or shrines if you like. Yes, shrine sounds more elegant. I enjoyed each and every garden you portrayed here. The photos really drew me into each garden. Thanks so much for sharing.

    • The moss garden here was so ethereal and serene that I found it hard to leave. It was simply magical. And so huge! I don’t think I’ve seen moss on the same scale anywhere in the US as what we saw in Japan.

  5. What a way to end! In every sense. A spectacular place, both serene and majestic, with the mountains. And then sipping tea while looking at the bamboo forest.

      • Yes, but I “unspam” them. Can’t think of why they do this. A blogosphere mystery.

  6. What a beautiful, beautiful garden. By far, this is my favorite. What terrific views, and yet the garden is inviting, and there is a feeling of intimacy. You saved the best for last in my opinion. Thank you.

  7. Wow – what a glorious garden. So tranquil and the contrast between wide open vistas and those where you were literally surrounded by nature – just beautiful.

  8. So peaceful and beautiful! You had an amazing trip! Thank you for the sharing it with us : )

    • As you can see from the pictures, I really loved all the pathways and stairways to. The Japanese call this kind of garden a “stroll garden” and I think that’s a wonderful concept.

  9. These pictures remind me of my visit to the Anderson Japanese Gardens in Rockford. So lovely and tranquil.

  10. Beautiful, Jason! Japanese woodland gardens appeal to me, with the emphasis on textures of green and the importance of the journey. Your images capture that sense of beauty and tranquility.

  11. stunning! I feel calm looking at the pictures I can just imagine how calming in person:-) They make it look as if it was placed there like nature. what harmony:-)

  12. Hello Jason, it looks as though you had an amazing time in Japan and visited some incredible gardens. I’m glad I could journey along through your posts and pictures.

  13. I have enjoyed this series, you have me wanting to visit Japan now. I loved this garden, uttely peaceful, imagine actually once owning such a garden! I particularly enjoyed the moss and bamboo gardens.xxx

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