Bamboo Garden and Minka House

Dip into a thicket of tall grasses to discover a traditional Japanese farmhouse nestled off the beaten track.

Bamboo garden at Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew

The fastest growing woody plants in the world, bamboos create a dense and vibrant landscape wherever they grow.  

Our Bamboo Garden contains 130 bamboo species from China, Japan, the Himalaya and Americas, making it one of the largest collections in the UK. The grasses are arranged by appearance to maximise their variety of forms and leaf shapes, from wispy variegated species to fountain-like cascades.  

Some species are highly invasive, so you might notice we use durable plastic barriers to contain their rapid growth.  

As you wander between the fronds, the Minka house will come into view.  Meaning ‘houses of the people’, ‘minka’ describes the simple homes of country-dwellers common in Japan until the mid-20th century.  

A treasured feature of Japanese heritage, many of these farmhouses have been preserved as historic landmarks.  

The Minka House in Kew's Bamboo Garden
The Minka House in our Bamboo Garden

A little bit of history   

Kew’s minka belonged to the Yonezu family, who lived in it after their main house was bombed in 1945. Bushes of the sacred bamboo (Nandina domestica ‘firepower’) are planted around the entrance, believed to dispel bad dreams.   

After the last of the family died, the house was donated to Kew by the Japan Minka Reuse and Recycle Association as part of the Japan 2001 Festival. It was rebuilt by a team of Japanese carpenters and British builders, some of whom had worked on the Globe Theatre – creating an unsung architectural gem in the heart of London.  

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