Kyoto Nijo Castle Machiya Project – Part 13

– TSUBO-NIWA GARDEN –

Follow our journey as we renovate a traditional machiya townhouse in Kyoto. Once complete, the renovated machiya will be offered for sale.

The tsubo-niwa garden was completed this week in the middle of the typhoon that passed over the Kansai region. We managed to get a few plant deliveries in the morning just before the weather worsened.

A tsubo-niwa generally refers to a (very) small garden, often found at the rear of a house to create some distance and privacy from neighbors. Interior courtyards, called naka-niwa, may be found in larger traditional homes, separating the street portion of the house from the main residence at the rear.

The garden is on the southern side of the house and does get some direct sunlight from above in the summer months. There was no garden when we purchased the house although there were remnants of the former garden – a raised garden bed with stone walls and several garden stones that we have kept.

For the feature plant we chose a lady palm (shurochiku). This is a lot more low maintenance than a Japanese maple. For the ground cover, we used tamaryu (lilyturf), a native plant, with yaburan (another variety of lilyturf), tsuwabuki (leopard plant) and tokusa (rough horsetail) as accents. Some gravel over the concrete base finished the look.