The miniature garden industry in Japan has been transplanted to the United States. For several centuries the leading landscape gardeners of Japan have made miniature models of their work so their customers might see how the proposed gardens would look; very much in the same way an American architect will make a prospective drawing of a house, except in this case the garden is made perfect in every detail, except that it is in miniature.
The care and degree of exactness put into these gardens is remarkable. Great care is used to select exactly the right kind of stones, sand and pebbles to use in each part of the design. Trees are even dwarfed and stunted through many years of careful watching in order that they may add to the completeness of the picture.
These miniature gardens are called in Japanese, “Hako Niwa,” meaning dish gardens, because they are usually built in large earthenware bowls. Every Japanese garden contains a stream or lake with one or more bridges spanning from shore to shore. If a natural body of water does not exist, the landscape gardener simply goes ahead and makes it.
For a number of years an annual contest or exhibit of these toy gardens has been held in the city of Kioto, at which the leading landscape gardeners of Japan exhibit their work. A great demand has grown up among the tourists who visit the land of the cherry blossom for copies of these miniature gardens to take back with them to America.
In response to this growing trade demand, one of the large Japanese nurseries has opened a branch near New York City, where one of their expert garden designers devotes his entire time in constructing miniature gardens for the American public. These gardens may be properly divided into two classes. The first, which represents a Japanese garden or familiar landscape in which the landscape and the house are the principal feature, and the dwarf trees are only secondary; and the other type in which a very old dwarf tree is made the central feature, with a few stones and moss-covered rocks at its base to give an impression of its native heath. 1
1 American Forestry, Vol. 26, August 1920, pg. 497.