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Adachi Museum of Art: Japan’s Best Gardens for 13 Consecutive Years

When most people think to themselves, “I’d like to go see a really beautiful Japanese garden,” the first places that come to mind are cities like Tokyo and Kyoto. However, the pinnacle of Japanese-style gardens is not to be found in either of those places. Today, we’re going to tell you a little about the art museum where you can find the Japanese garden ranked as best in Japan for 13 years running.


About the Adachi Museum of Art


In 1970, Zenkō Adachi (then 71 years of age) established this art museum in Yasugi City, Shimane Prefecture. The Japanese gardens on premise are held in high esteem all across the world, and the American magazine “The Journal of Japanese Gardening” has rated it top in the world for thirteen years in a row (essentially, since the start of its ranking of Japanese gardens in 2003). Once you hear that the number two spot is occupied by Kyoto’s Katsura Imperial Village, we’re pretty sure you’ll understand just how incredible this place is. It has also been selected from over 1,000 Japanese gardens across the country to be given the highest possible rating (three stars) by the Michelin Green Guide Japan.


Things to Know Before You Go

1. The Yokoyama Taikan Collection


Before you go to see the gardens, you should definitely stop by at this collection of 1,500 or so works. Around 130 of them were produced by Yokoyama Taikan, making this place unparalleled in Japan when it comes to the sheer number of his works you can view in one place. Seeing these, you’ll understand just how keen the founder Zenkō Adachi was on Yokoyama Taikan’s creations.

The Works of Yokoyama Taikan

Kōyō 紅葉 (Autumn Leaves)

Ameharu 雨霽る (The Rain Lifts)

Muga 無我 (Non-self)

2. The Japanese Gardens

The Dry Landscape Garden (枯山水庭)

The White Gravel and Pine Garden (白砂青松庭)

After you’ve calmed your spirit with thorough appreciation of Japanese artwork, make your way to the gardens. The Adachi Art Museum gardens are characterized by a grandness of dimension, spread out over an incredible 50,000 tsubo (about 165,289m²). The gardens are made up of six gardens, and the two that best represent them are The White Gravel and Pine Garden (“Hakusha-seishō-tei”) and The Dry Landscape Garden (“Kare-sansui-tei”).

The former takes as its motif a work of the same name by Yokoyama Taikan, and its overall beauty is nothing short of miraculous. Initially, the White Gravel and Pine Garden was nothing more than a Japanese garden imagined within the confines of the artist’s mind, but now we can enjoy it as a fully-realized part of the physical world.

The Kikaku Waterfall (亀鶴の滝)

The devotion to beauty here is exceptionally thorough, to the point that much of the mountains you see behind the gardens were purchased to prevent power lines and the like from ruining the view. So much passion was poured into the creation of this landscape that even the 15-meter tall waterfall here is man-made.

From the main lobby

As a general rule, you’re not able to actually enter the Japanese gardens at the Adachi Museum of Art. The reason is that the gardens themselves are treated as items in the museum’s collection, meant to be appreciated from the outside.

Be sure to enjoy the graceful movement of the decorative carp swimming here, as well.

Related: Nishikigoi and the Undiscovered Scenic Town of Koi

3. A Living Framed Painting

Just to remind you, what you’re looking at isn’t a picture. The window itself is acting as a picture frame to the “painting” that the garden composes beyond. It really lets you appreciate Japanese gardens from a different and novel perspective.

4. A Living Hanging Scroll


This is another of the exceptional details found at the museum. Where normally a painted scroll would hang in the tokonoma alcove, instead you’ll find a window out to the gardens achieving the same affect.


Beyond the Details…

1. Delights of the Changing Season

With each of the four yearly seasonal changes, the gardens and displayed works are changed up as well, allowing you to enjoy a new side of the museum every time you visit, guaranteeing visitors will never grow tired.

2. Enjoy a Cup of Tea, Too


There is a Japanese-style tearoom in the gardens provided as a resting place for visitors. It truly is a restful space.


Zenkō Adachi’s dream and vision of “making the Adachi Museum of Art global” was realized after his passing. The depth of his passion is such that the museum has been open year-round since its establishment, so as to not disappoint anyone who might come to visit. We can heartily recommend the Adachi Art Museum, confident that their dedication to innumerable details throughout the complex will not betray your expectations. At least once (and maybe even once for each season!), be sure to go and see it for yourself.

Access: On a note, there are free shuttle busses running from both JR Yasugi and JR Yonago Stations. Information: Map

Related: 8 Elegant Kyoto Gardens Rich in the Wabi-Sabi Aesthetic

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