From the impeccable Zen gardens of Kyoto to the sacred forests surrounding shrines such as Meiji Jingu in Tokyo, Japan is admired for its traditional gardens that often provide a welcome respite from the concrete jungles that surround them.

However, rapid urbanization over the past half century — 91% of people nationwide currently live in urban areas compared to around 75% in 1975 — has gone hand in hand with a reduction of urban green spaces.

“If farmland and woodland is taken into account, the total area of green spaces in Tokyo has decreased by around 219,000 hectares — approximately 22% — from 1965 to 2005,” says Yoshinori Akiyama, senior deputy director of the environment office at the land ministry.