Walking along the gravel paths, you can almost hear it — the gentle twang of a shamisen or the lilting notes of a flute. The wind rustles through pink cherry blossoms, stirring the pond of koi fish as you cross over a red bridge leading you to the traditional tea house. At the Birmingham Botanical Gardens in Alabama, their immersive Japanese Gardens are enough to make you totally forget you’re not even in The Land of the Rising Sun!
If you’re looking to take an exotic trip this summer but aren’t quite feeling the hassle of actually traveling, spending tons of money, and having to plan extensively in advance to venture abroad, then a visit to these gardens in Birmingham is the perfect compromise.
You’ll enter the gardens through a bright red torii gate and leave Alabama behind as you travel across the world — even if it's just for a few hours.
The entrance path is lined with gorgeous pink cherry blossoms that you can catch in full bloom in the early spring months. The gardens even maintain a unique beauty in the cold winter season too.
The whole site is an interwoven collection of several smaller gardens, each displaying a collection of Japanese flora and architecture.
The meditative Karesansui garden evokes calm and peace with its composition of boulders artistically placed in patterns of raked sand. And according to the Birmingham Gardens' website, the traditional 16th-century Sukiya-style teahouse is one of less than a dozen in the U.S.
The center is pulled together by seven beautiful waterfalls that flow into an equal number of pools, eventually leading into Long Life Lake. Why seven? It’s to represent the seven virtues of bushido, the samurai creed.
You may find yourself growing more pensive as you walk, and for good reason. The arching Moon Bridge, as well as the twists and turns of The Bridge of Accomplishment, are meant to symbolize the ups, downs, and navigation of life and spans the entirety of the lake.
Forget the passport and expensive plane tickets, and enjoy your trip to this tiny slice of Japan tucked away in Alabama!
Birmingham Botanical Gardens
Address: 2612 Lane Park Rd., Birmingham, AL
Why You Need To Go: Experience an authentic slice of Japanese culture right in Alabama!
We strongly advise that before you go swimming or visit any location, you check the most recent updates on potential hazards, security, water quality, and closures. If you do plan to visit a location, respect the environment.