To design a Japanese garden does take a fundamental understanding of what they are, why they are the way they are and an appreciation of their design necessities and the reasons for them.
In this article I have put together some bullet points on seven things to know and take onboard about Japanese garden design.
1)Symbolism is crucial - both on a historical and religious level. Strict design rules steeped in thousands of years of history make them what they are and to be authentic you will have to follow them.
2)One of the principle design rules is that the garden should ALWAYS have a feeling of serenity.
3)The copying of landscapes (in miniature) is essential for authenticity. There ae some fine examples of these types of gardens in Kyoto. You can see some on my blog or obviously search online for some images. Better still go and visit them in Japan.
4)There are numerous types of rocks and stones that can be used, quite often once again in very specific ways. You can't just put them anywhere that you want to or feel like putting them.
5)Moss is a very important ingredient in Japanese gardens.
6)You can design and construct one in a very limited space like a small backyard right the way through to a much larger piece of land. So many people today like the idea of smaller designs at home and when they are done correctly they are stunning and a real haven of peace and quiet.
7)Smallmounds symbolise mountains- copying is big in the world of Japanese gardens.Small replica landscapes are particularly beautiful.
As with anything it's a question of where to start and how to do it and you will need to do some research and read up about the subject. After all, there is no point doing something unless you show diligence and do it correctly.
I have a free video on the subject of things to know about Japanese gardens and you can see it at : http://www.japzengardens.org/freevideo.htm plus my resource manual is extremely useful if a thorough grounding in plain english is what is required.This can be found at : http://www.japzengardens.org