Director's statement

The role of the garden in Japan House's environment and teachings is almost impossible to calculate. For many people, wandering through the Arboretum and coming upon the gardens is their first exposure to Japan House. Others might come to Japan House for a tea ceremony and then learn how integral the garden is in welcoming them and preparing them for the experience of tea. Without a doubt Japan House could not teach its lessons without the James and Lorene Bier Gardens. Their generosity has been an incredible gift to all of us and without them we would not have the experiential cultural resource that is Japan House & Gardens.

Designer's statement

Japan’s gardens occupy a unique position in the world development of garden design. All world gardens are built on the use of three main elements, vegetation, stone and water but, how they are used and what they suggest are widely separate ideas. The gardens of the West, the Middle East, and mainland Asia focus strongly on symmetrical patterns and layout, forcing nature into visions under man’s control. Vegetation is the dominant element in such a garden. Read more.

About the James and Lorene Bier Gardens


The gardens are open from dawn to dusk throughout the year. For safety reasons the walled tea garden is closed during the icy season because of its uneven stepping stones.

Photo policies

Photos are allowed in the gardens but areas cannot be reserved and photography does not take priority over any other visitor activities. For any photography to be used for commercial purposes, please contact Japan House. We welcome photos submitted to our facebook page for all to enjoy.

Usage policies

We do not allow weddings on the Japan House grounds. The surrounding Arboretum does welcome weddings. Please contact them at 217-333-7579.

Sen Cherry Tree Allée


You can support the gardens in many ways. We depend on volunteer help to maintain the gardens. Call Japan House at 217-244-9934 to put your name on a list of volunteers interested in helping with ongoing garden maintenance. We also need funds to develop the gardens and to plan for their care in the future. You can donate online or call us for other giving options.