Many people consider Hakone Gardens to be one of the 20 top class Japanese outdoor gardens situated in North America. In 1916, philanthropists and patrons from San Francisco Oliver and Isabelle Stine came to view a number of Japanese manor gardens in Japan, in particular the Fuji Hakone National Park. In 1917, they began designing a Japanese garden on an 18-acre mountain slope, which they bought in 1915 to provide privacy for their family.
Nature architect Naoharu Aihara created the garden, and the architect Tsunematsu Shintani developed Moon-Viewing House, which has a view over the scenery of the gardens from the hillside. The house is a quiet, secluded hideaway from where at nights you can enjoy the reflection of the moon in a lake. Hakone is considered the longest-established Japanese style inhabited park in the Western Hemisphere.
Hakone is a hilltop and lake style garden, most famous in the 17th century, with walking paths, whereas the scenery will constantly change. In Hakone, the gardens have a few features. There is a tea garden with Tsukubai (swimming pool) and staged stone pathways above moss.
The Zen garden for meditation is situated close to the Lower House and is a dry garden, to which you can not enter. The view lets you contemplate while looking at the gravel and a few big stones, which are water and islands. Lon Savedra, Executive Director and CEO of the Hakone Foundation has told that they have a project to renovate the Zen Garden to its bigger dimensions, as at present there is only a tiny square of this dry garden left.