Discovering unknown gems in places you thought you knew is one of the perks of living in a city like London. Regent’s Park is home to tree-lined promenades, 12,000 roses in a single formal garden and London Zoo, the oldest scientific zoo on the planet.
But hidden in the inner circle of the park is a little-known oriental oasis – the Japanese Garden Island. Although not officially a Japanese garden (Nihon Teien), the island is dotted with many traditional aesthetics and ancient ornamentation.
Located in Queen Mary’s Garden, the area was created in the 1930s and is named after the wife of King George V. Among the 12,000 roses is a mysterious mound reminiscent of the Ninomaru (Chiyoda) Garden within of the eastern gardens of the Tokyo Imperial Palace.
READ MORE: The fairytale secret garden tucked away in North London that even the locals don’t know about
As you cross the wisteria-covered arched bridge, you are greeted by winding pathways and a stone lantern (dai-dōrō). Gurgling streams, stones placed among shrubs and towering trees all lead to a tranquil waterfall.
In Japanese gardens, miniature waterfalls represent the yin and yang (Onmyōdō) of Buddhist symbolism; two opposites (water and stone) that complement each other. The island is also home to a Grade II listed building: the bronze eagle statue.
Presented to the Royal Parks by Felix Greene in 1974 in memory of Edward Greene, the perched sculpture is believed to be from the early 19th century and of Japanese origin. To find the Secret Zone of Total Zen, take the Tube to Baker Street Station and enter the park through the large iron Jubilee Gates a few steps away. Take the first path on the right and discover the great Japanese art of garden design.
Want more MyLondon? Sign up to our daily newsletters for all the latest and greatest from London here.