The Cranbrook Japanese Garden is among the oldest Japanese-style gardens in North America. Created in 1915 as a part of the country estate of Cranbrook’s founders George and Ellen Booth, this one-acre, pond-style strolling garden, is located at the eastern edge of Kingswood Lake, midway between Cranbrook House and Cranbrook Kingswood Upper School. The garden, which is centered on the Lily Pond and its two small islands, features an iconic vermillion Japanese-style bridge, the original 1915 Japanese Kasuga Lantern, and the recently rehabilitated Lily Pond Cascade with its new Mountain Lantern.
Although the garden is a place of beauty and inspiration, attracting thousands of visitors each year, it needs further rehabilitation. The effort to restore and rehabilitate the garden is being led by Cranbrook Center for Collections and Research. In 2019, Sadafumi Uchiyama completed a master plan for the rehabilitation of the entire Cranbrook Japanese Garden. The Center for Collections and Research now is in the process of raising awareness of and support for the next phase of the project, the creation of a new Entrance Garden in the southwest corner of the garden.
New Guided Japanese Garden Tours
Center staff guided tours of the Japanese Garden have been added to the public tour calendar on one Sunday a month at 1:30pm, May through October. Reserve a space on a tour to hear the story of the Cranbrook Japanese Garden and the Center's ongoing efforts to rehabiliate this historic landscape.
You are invited to explore this idealized representation of nature, follow its winding paths, cross its natural stone bridges, seek shade under the many mature cedars, admire the changing vistas from various viewpoints, and embrace the garden as your own. It is a place of beauty and solace in all four seasons.
SELF-GUIDED TOURS OF THE JAPANESE GARDEN
The best way to experience the Cranbrook Japanese Garden is while exploring Cranbrook Gardens, the forty acres that surround Cranbrook House, the original 1908 Arts and Crafts manor home of George and Ellen Booth.
Hours and Admission
Visitors are welcome to explore the Cranbrook Japanese Garden throughout the year. Cranbrook Gardens—featuring a formal Sunken Garden, terraced flower gardens, fountains and statuary, wildflower and bog gardens, lakes and streams—is open daily during the following times:
Spring (Preseason): March 14 - May 30 | 7:00am - 7:00pm
Summer (Tour Season): June 1 - September 30 | 7:00am - 7:00pm
Fall/Winter (Off-season): October 1 - March 13 | Dawn to dusk
Location and Parking
Parking is available in the Cranbrook House & Gardens parking lot, which is located across from Christ Church Cranbrook.
Cranbrook House & Gardens
380 Lone Pine Road
Bloomfield Hills, Michigan 48304
An accessible restroom is located at the entrance to the parking lot. Restrooms are closed during the off season (November through April).
Path to the Japanese Garden
Many trails will lead you through Cranbrook Gardens to the Japanese Garden. The most poetic path is a journey that begins on The Mountain in front of Cranbrook House. This route then leads you north and east, along the front of Cranbrook House, past the Herb Garden and between the Sunken Garden and the East Terrace, through the Native Plant/Wildflower Garden and an early stand of pine trees, down to the Booths’ Boathouse and along Kingswood Lake, and finally into the Japanese Garden. It is a leisurely, ten-minute walk, that includes a variety of surfaces, including stone steps, forest trails, and gravel walks.
The Cranbrook Japanese Garden is a historic landscape preserved and maintained as closely as possible to its original design. As such, there are certain natural and artificial surface conditions, such as grass, wood chips, stones, stairs, steep slopes and uneven terrain which can make walking and use of a wheelchair difficult. Assistance for persons using wheelchairs or walkers is recommended. Cranbrook Educational Community is a private, non-profit educational community that welcomes individuals to its public areas and is committed to providing reasonable accommodations for those who may require them.
JAPANESE GARDEN VOLUNTEERS
Cranbrook Center for Collections and Research has been working with a small group of committed volunteers to help rehabilitate one of the oldest Japanese gardens in North America. Working directly under the supervision of Emily Fronckowiak, Michigan’s only APA Certified Aesthetic Pruner, Volunteer Gardeners spend one day each month during the growing season (April through October) tending the Lily Pond Cascade, controlling invasive species, maintaining the existing paths, contouring and planting new groundcover along the restored Willow Pool shoreline, setting stone steps, and watering fragile plants.
JAPANESE CULTURE EVENTS AND TOURS
Cranbrook Center for Collections and Research provides a context for the Japanese Garden through educational programs that explore the culture and arts of Japan. These have included chanoyu tea ceremonies, lectures by contemporary Japanese garden designers, a lecture about the relationship between Frank Lloyd Wright and Japan, and wagashi, shodo, and ikebana demonstrations.
SUPPORT THE NEW ENTRANCE GARDEN – THE NEXT PHASE OF THE REHABILITATION MASTER PLAN
Cranbrook Center for Collections and Research commissioned Sadafumi Uchiyama to design the master plan for the rehabilitation of the Cranbrook Japanese Garden. Completed in 2019 and updated in 2022, the plan respects the integrity and historic features of the Booth-era landscape while also enhancing its significance as a Japanese-style garden. Highlights include a new Entrance Garden and gazebo, a new viewing pavilion near the Northeast Landing, and enhanced cascades below the East Water Gate and above the Japanese Bridge. When complete, the rehabilitated Japanese Garden will be accessible with new ramped paths and wooden bridges along the edge of the pond.
The creation of the Entrance Garden is the next phase of the rehabilitation. The Entrance Garden will feature a new path with stone steps leading down into the garden, and a long wooden bench inspired by the Ryōanji stone garden in Kyoto. To learn more about the Entrance Garden and what you can do to support its creation, please contact Cranbrook Center for Collections and Research Director Gregory Wittkopp at 248.645.3315 or email@example.com.
RESEARCH AND RESOURCES
The rehabilitation of a historic site such as the Cranbrook Japanese Garden begins with research. Following the Secretary of the Interior’s Guidelines for the Treatment of Cultural Landscapes, the Center for Collections and Research commissioned Quinn Evans Architects to research and write the Cranbrook Japanese Garden Historic Landscape Study. Completed in 2018, with Gregory De Vries the lead author, the report includes a detailed chronology of the garden, documentation of the landscape as it existed in 2018, identification of character-defining features remaining from the Booth era, and a summary of hydrology issues. Additional research has focused on individual components of the garden, including the Japanese-style bridge and lanterns.
The maintenance and rehabilitation of the Cranbrook Japanese Garden is the responsibility of Cranbrook Center for Collections and Research and the Cranbrook Japanese Garden Advisory Group. Please contact us at 248.645.3307 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
CRANBROOK JAPANESE GARDEN SPONSORS
Sponsors of the current Cranbrook Japanese Garden revitalization project (2018 to present), include the Japanese Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT); Jeanne Graham (1939–2019); Karen Hagenlocker; the Clannad Foundation; and the Japan Business Society of Detroit. The 2022 Japanese Garden Tour Season is sponsored by Karen Hagenlocker, the Clannad Foundation, and the Japan Business Society of Detroit.
PHOTO CREDITS FROM TOP TO BOTTOM
Cranbrook Japanese Bridge, July 16, 2019; Photography by Eric Franchy.
Rehabilitated Lily Pond Cascade, June 14, 2019; Photography by Gregory Wittkopp.
Cherry blossoms in the Cranbrook Japanese Garden, Spring 2023; Photography by Gregory Wittkopp
Cranbrook Japanese Garden in Summer, July 16, 2019; Photography by Eric Franchy.
Kasuga Lantern in the Cranbrook Japanese Garden; Photography by Thomas Booth.
Cranbrook House, July 18, 2013; Photography by Eric Franchy.
Path to the Cranbrook Japanese Garden along the Willow Pond and over the Corduroy Bridge, October 9, 2018; Photography by Eric Franchy.
Emily Fronckowiak (far left) Sets Stones Along the Edge of the Lily Pond Cascade and Gardeners Remove Debris from the Stream Bed, October 1, 2019; Photography by Gregory Wittkopp.
Chanoyu Tea Ceremony in Cranbrook's Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Smith House, August 2018; Photography by Kevin Adkisson.
Sadafumi Uchiyama, Designer, 2019 Master Plan, Cranbrook Japanese Garden; Photography Courtesy Cranbrook Center for Collections and Research.
George W. Hance, Cranbrook Japanese Garden, Hand-painted Glass Slide, 1932; Photograph Courtesy Cranbrook Archives.
Cherry Blossoms in the Cranbrook Japanese Garden, April 28, 2019; Photography by Eric Franchy.