How to: Gardening in Japan
Gardening in Japan can be a challenging undertaking. The places that you’re used to visiting may not be available, and the language barrier can make things difficult. When I first started collecting plants in Tokyo, I mainly got them from flower shops. The plants were super cute, but way overpriced, and I couldn’t find any gardening supplies in the shops.
If you’re interested in starting a garden in the city (a window box, balcony garden, whatever!) this resource is for you. Here, you can find some of my recommendations on where to get garden supplies, plants, seeds, and more!
I only recently discovered this, but there is a whole gardening section on Amazon.jp. You can get planters, seeds, organic seeds, starter kits, and basically anything else you could want. I ordered some plants and organic seeds through Amazon that I wanted, but couldn’t find in my local Home Center. While I was expecting to have to clean up spilled dirt, or salvage bruised plants, the (real, living) plants arrived without any problems at all.
I recommend Amazon for resources you can’t find in your local shops, or specialty items that you would like for your journey gardening in Japan. However, things like inclement weather or delivery times may result in your package being delayed, so be careful!
If you’re looking for the Japanese equivalent of Home Depot or Lowe’s (basically an all-purpose home improvement center), this is it. If you type “Tokyo Home Center” into google, you’ll find a few options; something like Viva Home or D2. These Home Centers cover basically all of your DIY or home improvement needs, from spray paint to lumber to furniture, and you will usually also find a sizable gardening section.
You’ll usually find a pretty large display of packets of seeds and bulbs, and even if you don’t speak Japanese, you can guess from the large pictures what the seeds are for. Some home centers offer a small selection of organic seeds on top of the regular ones.
If you’re looking for gardening supplies, you can find a huge assortment of containers, specialized soil, fertilizers, tools, pesticides, etc. In Japan, there is special soil for blueberries, for vegetables, for herbs, and so on. If you’re new to gardening, specialized soils are a great place to start.
Outside, you will usually find a huge assortment of seedlings and plants. Typically, you will find flowers, herbs, vegetable seedlings, fruit trees, shrubs, and almost anything else you could want. Most centers also stock bricks and things for building paths or designing a larger garden.
100 Yen Shop
Some 100 Yen shops (very similar to dollar shops in America) also carry gardening supplies. You will have the most luck at big chains, but I have also seen supplies in very small shops.
I have found a pretty large array of things, from soil and fertilizers, containers, trellises, to seeds and seedlings. You have to test your luck with these, and just see what your local 100 yen shop carries. I have found that there isn’t a huge difference in quality between the plants I buy at 100 yen shops and the ones I get elsewhere.
Convenience Store or Supermarket
In Spring, some convenience stores and supermarkets also carry plants and starter kits.
I have also seen seed displays at some larger supermarkets, but the selection is generally limited.
Over all, keep your eyes open, because plants and gardening supplies can be almost anywhere! If you found this guide useful, please consider sharing it with your friends. As always: please share photos of your garden with me by tagging me on Twitter and Instagram with the hashtag #heytaylorb so I can be sure to see it!
And if you’re interested, here’s a video about my garden here in Tokyo!