The hidden Japanese garden in central London

Sitting on top of a university building in central London can be found a small secluded garden, and it’s open to the public to visit.

The Japanese-inspired roof garden can be found on top of the SOAS, University of London building just behind the British Museum and was built during the Japan 2001 celebrations.

For a garden that is more than a decade old, it has aged very well, with the planting in places having firmly bedded into place. However, it is the classic zen-style garden layout that dominates the space, which is said to be conducive to calm contemplation.

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The garden is dedicated to Forgiveness, which is the meaning of the Kanji character engraved on the garden’s granite water basin.

Do also notice the side drainage pipes with their pull release levers.

The garden replaced an older one that was installed when the building was constructed in 1995, but it leaked, so in 2000, an offer was made for a replacement garden by Mr Haruhisa Handa (Toshu Fukami), an Honorary Fellow of the School.

The new garden doesn’t leak. It also looks quite pleasant and while fairly small, is very relaxing to sit in and just let yourself calm down for a few minutes.

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The garden is open to the public when the Brunei Gallery is open, normally Tuesday to Saturday 10.30am to 5pm — go into the gallery and head up the stairs. It is easily signposted.

Saturdays seem to be the best so far, as there are fewer students, and few visitors to the gallery seem to get up this far.

Oh, and do visit the gallery right now – a quite excellent display is on.

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3 comments on “The hidden Japanese garden in central London
  1. Christina says:

    Great find – I love those (now not so secret) little gardens. Had not idea this one existed. Seems to have a nice atmosphere. Goes onto the list for my next visit to London.

  2. Ian N says:

    I didn’t understand what you mean by “side drainage pipes with their pull release levers” … does this refer to the chains hanging from the gutters or something else that’s not visible in the pic? If the chains, I think they will be fixed, it’s quite a common way to make a drain pipe “non drip” (so nice and quiet), the water silently trickles down the chain instead.

  3. Andre says:

    That is amazing! Thanks for sharing.

    I love all-things Japanese. Is there another Japanese garden in London, you know?

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