Statues, Figures and Ornaments

Japanese Garden Design

Photo of elegant iron cranes standing alongside koi pond and irisesIt can be extremely effective to add a granite statue or small ornament here and there in your Japanese garden, particularly when they are relatively subtle in their appearance and add genuine interest, being partially hidden at times.

Model animals are a popular choice for many gardeners, although it is important not to get carried away and end up with a space dominated by garish ornaments and mythical creatures - understated is always preferable.

Image of a Japanese warrior soldier, next to clump of bamboo canes


Statues and figures are now used purely as decoration, although historically they were seen in Japan as something that may bring good fortune and prosperity to the garden, as well as protecting it from evil forces.

If you only have room for a single statue, then of course you are most likely to choose a cheerful, fat reclining Buddha to sit beneath a maple or bamboo clump.

Oriental Buddhas

Buddha statues are especially attractive when they have been hand carved from a piece of grey granite, although much cheaper models cast in stone are usually available to purchase at garden centres. These cheaper Buddhas are often painted red or green, although natural stone finishes are much more desirable.

Where these are made from a yellow sandstone mixture, the colour can easily be muted and turned grey by brushing over a very diluted mixture of black paint, which will quickly soak into the porous stone.

Picture of rusty grasshopper standing on pebbles, in front of metal shrine lantern

Figures and Animals

Both Chinese and Japanese style statues and figures won't look out of place in any oriental garden, with a pair of foo dogs (temple lions) being a good choice to sit either side of an entrance or gateway.

Granite dragons, frogs, grasshoppers, rabbits, fish, small birds, mice and even snails won't look out of place amongst pebbles, while a Japanese 'terracotta' warrior with a grey finish, or perhaps a statue of an old monk or Geisha girl, would deserve a prominent position at the end of a pathway.

Photo showing a tiny polished granite frog, perched on boulder stone

Bird Statues by Koi Ponds

If you have a koi pond, then you may like to grace the side with a tasteful pair of cranes or herons.

These tall birds can look especially attractive when they have been made with metal and are beginning to rust, taking on a more natural patina. Model herons may even serve to scare off the real thing, although koi keepers tend to report mixed results when these statues are used in this way.