A Zen garden is also referred to as a Japanese rock garden. The Zen garden is called ‘karesansui’ in Japanese which means ‘withered landscape’ [4623]. It is a dry decorative space which usually contains sand, rocks and natural materials. Lines or patterns are often drawn in the sand [4622]. These types of gardens are often found around Japanese Zen temples [4621]. Zen gardens have become popular in a miniature scale around the world. People often place these on the desks or in office environments to promote a meditative and peaceful environment.


japanese gardenCredit: johninportland from morguefile.com



A Zen garden is minimalistic. The viewer can consider the symbolism relating to the absence of water and vegetation. Although there are several theories as to the function of Zen gardens, it is widely believed that the minimalism of the garden causes contemplation [4621]. The rake marks used in Zen gardens often represent the flow of water, shapes of mountains and other parts of the landscape.


Ryoanji Temple Zen Rock Garden

In Kyoto, Japan, a 30 x 10m space contains the Ryoanji Temple Zen rock garden protected as a United Nations World Heritage site. In English, the Ryoanji Temple translates to the Temple of the Peaceful Dragon. It was built in the mid-15th century.

As with other karesansui spaces, this garden contains no vegetation or water. It is created to be viewed from the wooden veranda and is enclosed by earthen walls on the other three sides [4623]. The garden was created as a meditative space for the monks containing 15 rocks placed in five groups. As a visual puzzle, only 14 rocks can be seen by the viewer at any one time. The belief is that when the viewer becomes enlightened, they will be able to see all 15 stones at the same time [4623].  


bonsaiCredit: homero chapa from stockvault.net

How to Make a Miniature Zen Garden For Kids

Kids can be introduced to the topic of Zen and different types of gardens by making their own variety! Easy-to-find materials from around the home can be used to create a miniature, mediative space for children to explore.



Lid from a gift box


  1. The lid from the gift box will be the container for the miniature Zen garden.
  2. Cover the box with paint.
  3. Place the sand in the box to a level of about 1/3 of the total height.
  4. Place the pebbles in the box.
  5. Use the toothpick to create rake-like impressions in the sand.
Zen rocksCredit: homero chapa from stockvault.net