The Japanese Garden
A Cornish Teleporter
St Mawgan, Newquay
Everything about what Cornwall is known for is based on the idea of tradition and heritage. Pasty’s, cakes, fudge and various other foods are all recipes that have been improved on year by year, enjoyed on it’s beaches all along the English coast, made up of thousands of year old rocks and sand, all enjoyed by an Ethnic group that have been enjoying Cornwall, long before the Romans ever set foot.
So perhaps the sight of a Japanese Garden might confuse you, but when you consider just how akin the idea of tradition and heritage is to Japanese people, you quickly realise that this garden and all of it’s awards, very easily make sense.
First of all, getting to The Japanese Garden in the Cornish village of St Mawgan near Newquay is no easy feat.
Unlike a number of destinations we’ve previously visited, St Magwan is situated atop a steep hill in an unfamiliar part of town. Taxi’s just about want to there and there’s a bus, two in fact, the Number 56 and Atlantic Coaster A5 that take you from and to Padstow.
But like all rural busses, they’re infrequent, unreliable and not particularly accessible for long times during the day.
It means that if you come into Newquay via plane to the very nearby Cornwall Airport or train to Newquay station, your next point of call is to head over to the car rental station to get about- making you wonder why you didn’t just drive here in the first place.
But difficulties in accessibility are what make every retreat a retreat.
Because the Japanese Garden is an escape from the Cornish hillside and by walking in through the entrance doors, you enter a teleporter to a place where the bonsai feels at home.
Now before we go any further, I just want to tell you that my trip here dispelled one myth that I did not expect to be debunked; the bonsai tree is not a type of plant. Instead, bonsai is the practice of growing trees in containers. It’s an art form.
As such, The Japanese Garden is more than an enthralling visual experience; it’s a learning one too.
Even in autumn, when the leaves are shedding and the ground is brown; this garden pops with colours you hardly expect to see at any time of the year, making any trip here a visual pleasure.
There’s also a change of scenery that happens each time you visit, as the garden features a sort of ‘plant day-care’ program that allows people to bring their prospective bonsai plants to be cared if the owner is away.
It means that each of your trips here has the option of being a little different at certain sections of the garden.
Of course, the idea of a ‘garden’ means you’ll probably spend about five minutes here and then move on soon after.
The Japanese Garden is at least worth an hour of your time, taking you past plants and sculptures you feel that you just have to take a picture of and maybe even with.
It’s a quiet location too and the ample walking you’ll do whilst you’re here makes it an even better location to strike up a conversation with your date, even if you only save it for the benches dotted about the complex.
I want to stress to you just how fantastic an alternative venue like this is to take someone, and with an adult ticket only being £4.50, it’s exceptionally cheap too.
But cheapness largely stops there. If you wanted to take a stroll through the bonsai shop and you wanted to leave with a plant; well I just hope you brought a clean credit card, as one of these artistic Japanese treasures can set you back £400 or more.
That’s not to say any and all the plants are priced in a way that means you can’t take something home as a memento. If you look hard enough, you’ll find a nice selection of bonsai plants for £20, as well as starter sets and various other ornaments you can acquire.
But if you do plan to spend a full day out here, be advised that if you haven’t brought a lunch that you can eat in the car, you will have to head into, or at least towards Newquay so you can grab a bite to eat since this modest alcove in the side of a hill does not feature a cafe.
A chance to talk without any distractions.
- An unadulterated sense of 'Zen' without the gimmicks.
- Great value for money which can be maximised for a £9 season pass.
- Ever-changing scenery due to the bonsai nursery returning plants to their owners.
- Idyllic location makes for a great location to be 'in the moment.'
- The wash of photo opportunities available would also make a great and impromptu couples photoshoot.
- A great way to spend a very relaxed and low-key afternoon with a loved one.
Majority of items for sale are expensive, so likelihood of getting a token of your travels is small.
Difficult to get to to the point where a car and only a car will do.
8 month open season as between October and February, this little green piece of happiness is closed.
Lack of food options means your trip here may be cut short if a rumbly tummy comes into the equation.
- It may be a hard case to sell, to convince your partner that your trip here may constitute as a date night.
- For those who dislike nature, it might seem no more than an expensive park.