This thread was stimulated by a thread in the Japanese Maple section of the forum. I'd like to hear from as many enthusiasts as possible what they feel makes a garden a "Japanese Garden." For me, I'm attracted to some principles of Japanese Garden design, but not so much the traditional ornaments. So when is a garden a "Japanese Garden"? I wrote in the other thread: I recently read Ortho's All About Creating Japanese Gardens and it really got me thinking about how to apply some underlying principles in my own gardens. I'm particularly excited about "borrowed scenery", "forced diminishing perspective", and "asymmetrical balance". And most of all, I really resonate to the idea that a true Japanese Garden is a sacred place. According to Ortho, "A primary purpose of Japanese gardens it to create a place apart, a sanctuary, a setting removed from the everyday world." IMHO, the best gardens or natural spots have a beauty that catches your attention and touches your spirit. For me, they are places where I feel stillness and appreciation enter my heart. So do those of you who love Japanese Gardens think of underlying principles when creating them, or do you just know what you like and instinctively know how to get there? If you use design principles, which are your favorites and why? What past mistakes do you hope to avoid in the future?