The Philosophy of the Japanese Garden

Your Inspiration for Your Home The Philosophy of the Japanese Garden

The Japanese Garden

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The cult of the inimitable nature and the form perfected by man. The Japanese garden has always been a nature created and devised by man.
The tradition of the Japanese garden appeared when the first urban centers and palaces appeared.
The Japanese discover and achieve beauty, on the one hand, in the natural and casual form and on the other hand, in the perfect form created by man.
That is why the garden of Japan cannot be studied apart from the architecture of each period of the society that created it.
The practice of Japanese gardening has traditionally been accepted by sensei as an apprentice. The first words of the Illustrations for the Layout of Forest, River and Countryside Landscapes (1466) are, “When you have not received oral messages, you should not make gardens” and their closing note is, “You can never give outsiders this text. You must keep it hidden.

Japanese Garden Archetypes

Japan is the country of countless islands, more than 70% of the country is mountainous, with deep valleys, volcanoes and a seismic belt.
The islands barely have a flat surface. Japan’s climate knows four seasons, and you can predict the passage from one to another with the exact date.
With Shintoism, the first simple temples appeared, such as forms of life and respect for territorial property, veneration of nature, a sense of purity and the culture of rice.
The Japanese fascination, even more so the mania for tying, manipulating and mutilating plants in gardens or for reproducing miniature landscapes, is rooted in a cultural technique practiced in Japan for centuries.
The appreciation of the beauty of a natural stone was from the beginning one of the most outstanding features of Japanese gardening.
They were always introduced into garden compositions. In the Shinto religion, stones worthy of veneration were marked as sacred. In the end, all rocks were ordered by man in a sacred place. A Japanese garden seems inconceivable without a strange rock or a combination of them.
Under the religious practice of creation and the care of the sacred garden is the belief that the gods spend the winter in the mountains, there they are collected in a ceremony in the spring and taken to the rice fields and after the harvest they are returned to the mountains.

Your Inspiration for Your Home The Philosophy of the Japanese Garden

Aesthetic Principles

Japanese gardens quickly adopted the Chinese model, but Japanese gardens slowly developed their own values and aesthetics.
These were made clear by a series of landscape gardening manuals, beginning with Sakuteiki (Notes on Gardening) during the Heian period (794-1185).
The principles of sacred gardens, such as the Zen gardens of Buddhist temples, were different from those of pleasure or walking gardens.
For example, the Buddhist Zen gardens were planned to be seen while seated on a platform with a view of the whole garden without entering it, while the promenade gardens were intended to be seen walking through the garden and stopping at a variety of points with views.
They still, however, contain similar elements and use the same techniques.

According to historians David Garden and Young Michigo, the essence of the Japanese garden is the idea that a garden is a work of art. “While influenced by nature, it is an imitation rather than a copy; it should be real, but it is “not real.”

Your Inspiration for Your Home The Philosophy of the Japanese Garden

HINDU COSMOLOGY. -The mountain as the axis of the world

The image of the cosmic mountain as the center of the world represented in many Japanese gardens is a conception of the whole universe.
The general composition of a garden adopts the scheme of the nine mountains and eight oceans of Hindu cosmology.
In Hindu doctrines, the existence of the universe is governed by the Trimurti (‘three forms’):

  • Brahman (the creator god)
  • Vishnu (the sustaining god)
  • Shiva (the destroying god).

TAOIST MYTHOLOGY. -The islands of the blessed

The myth of an island of the immortals arises from the fear of old age and death and the desire to reach eternal youth.
According to ancient Chinese mythology, in a place far east of the Chinese coast, there are five islands where men have achieved immortality and live together in eternal harmony. They fly around on cranes. The islands sit on the shell of a giant water turtle that, after fighting a sea monster, has lost two of the five islands. Cranes and turtles have since become independent signs of longevity.
With the arrival and growing popularity of Buddhism, Taoism, a philosophical system in its origins, acquired a religious character. It absorbed many of the popular mystical cults so abundant in China and attributed its foundation to the mythical “Yellow Emperor”, supposed progenitor of the Chinese race, and to Laoz.

The Japanese Garden in History. From prototype to type to stereotype.

In principle the artist tries to imitate the external manifestations of nature.
The gardens of the Asuka, Nara and Heian periods show traces of the great wave of Chinese influence on Japanese culture, which was dominated by lakes and islands.
The gardens of the Heian period are relatively large and are designed to be toured by boat, gardens where the pomp of the courtier was manifested.
The main objective was the imitation of nature in its external manifestations, as a framework for the court’s recreation. Almost nothing of the old Japanese gardens has been preserved.

Your Inspiration for Your Home The Philosophy of the Japanese Garden

The Heian Age.-Gardens and architecture.

The gardens and architecture of the first half of the Heian period must still be considered as interpretations of the Chinese models.
From the Nara period onwards, the nobles acquired the custom of building villas with gardens on the outskirts of the city, which were called rikyu “retired palaces” or “sento. gosho” “palaces for retired emperors”.
Few testimonies remain of them, many destroyed by fires. If there is anything left of them, it is because of restoration work.

The Garden At Amida Buddhist Shrines

To understand the religious architecture of the Heian and Fujiwara eras, it is necessary to study the spirit that animated the era.
People were aware that everything in the world is ephemeral and that life is a dream. The feeling of change in this “decadent era” that the end of the world was about to come is an inevitable phenomenon in an enriched society. A society with a lot of free time that tries to master the problem of time through cultural activities of all kinds. Man discovers his spiritual needs once he has satisfied his material and aesthetic needs.
In the Byodo-in, the temple of equality and justice, we can still guess at a remnant of the primitive luxury of the temples of the Heian era

The Relationship of Heian Times With Nature And The Art Of Gardening

Since nothing is preserved from this era, we have to rely on the testimony of historical sources if we want to talk about the relationship of man this era with nature and gardening.
THE SAHUTEI-JI. -The classic manual of gardening
An inexhaustible source of information about the relationship of the Heian period with nature and gardening is offered to us by “Secret Treatises on Gardens”.
“Written by a crazy old man; This valuable treasure should be kept strictly secret”
The secret tradition in the Heian era was only known to members of the nobility and Buddhist monks, the only two social classes who were allowed to cultivate art and especially the art of gardening.
These texts were transmitted orally from master to disciple, as long as the master considered the disciple to be worthy.
In the Heian period the stones and other elements of the garden were not dead objects, but beings with their own personality that should be treated with love and respect.
The asymmetry of nature in the garden is confronted with the symmetry of the artificial.
Two concepts; something objective and natural “the character” of a place and something subjective,” the taste “of the spectator who is contemplating and creating.
The garden is not a simple copy of nature, but a creative, selective and compositional rapport that should evoke the charm of the four seasons.

Your Inspiration for Your Home The Philosophy of the Japanese Garden

Rocks and Sand. -The garden of simplicity

In the gardens of the Kamadura and Muromachi eras, the “kare-sansui” appears, a dry landscape of mountains and water, they are gardens for contemplation made by monks, first of the esoteric Shingon sect and later by the Zen monks with natural elements.
The gardens of the Kamadura and Muromachi eras imitate the inner essence of nature and not its external manifestations.
During the Kamadura era the great wave of Chinese influence broke out in Japan. Modern art was identified with Chinese art. The word Zen comes from the Sanskrit term “dkyan” which originally meant meditation “control over one’s self”.
The fact that the sea and the mountain are represented by a simple surface of sand with a mound, is called “ginshanada” is a white surface of raked sand forming waves that allude to the waves of the Sea in the center the “kogetssudai” mound of sand that copies Mount Fuji.

Kamakura And Muromachi Periods (1185-1573)

The decline of the emperors and the competition of the feudal lords led to two civil wars (1156 and 1159) that ruined much of Kyoto and its gardens.
The monks carried with them a new form of Buddhism, literally called Zen, or “meditation.” The first Zen garden in Japan was founded by a Chinese priest in Kamakura in 1251.
Japan experienced a revival in religion in the arts , particularly in the gardens.
Many prominent temple gardens were built at the beginning of that period, including Kinkaku-ji, the Golden Pavilion, built in 1398, and Ginkaku-ji, the Silver Pavilion, built in 1482.
The most impressive landscape form developed in this period was the Zen Landscape or the Japanese Rock Garden. Ryoan-ji in Kyoto is one of the earliest examples, and one of the most known of all Japanese gardens.
The historian Gunter Nitschke wrote, “The Garden of Ryoan-ji does not symbolize it. It has little interest in reflecting any natural beauty that can be found in the universe, whether actual or imaginary. I see it as an abstract arrangement of ‘natural’ objects in space, an arrangement whose purpose is to promote mediation.
Several of the famous Zen gardens in Kyoto were the work of one man, Muso Soseki (1275-1351), a monk of the ninth generation descendant of Emperor Uda.
He was also a diplomat, a strong judge, a writer and an activist, who supported and funded ships to establish trade with China, and established the Five Mountains group, made up of the most influential Zen monasteries in Kyoto.
He was responsible for the design of the Zen Gardens of Nanzen-ji; Saiho-ji (Moss Garden) and Tenryū-ji.

Your Inspiration for Your Home The Philosophy of the Japanese Garden

The New Prototype Of The Muromachi Garden – “kare-sansui”, the garden of the dry landscape.

A garden of constant inspiration up to the contemporary Japanese gardens that have inspired foreign and western gardeners.
Ryoan-ji.-“Temple of the peaceful dragon “
The purest example of a “kare.sansui”, without any water element, without any plant, without any tree.
It is not known who was the creator of this masterpiece, not only of Japanese gardening, but of gardening in general.
We are before the example of a “shakkei”; the art that incorporates the landscape beyond the garden wall.
In the garden, fifteen rocks have been arranged on an empty surface covered with raked sand. These rocks are arranged in three groups of seven, five and three.
Zen has always had the character of a sect in its relationship to meditation, and in this sense, it is very different from our western philosophy with its intellectual games and from our religion which only knows “faith”.
“Consciousness refers to itself, the circle has closed. You have returned to your own self. “
Ryoan-ji’s garden does not symbolize
Nor does it present a natural beauty from the real or mythical world; it is an abstract composition of objects “natural” in space, whose function is to incite meditation.
The belief that Zen monks used gardens for meditation is disproved by the fact that in Japan Zen monks almost always meditated indoors, facing a wall (Soto Zen) or the center of the room (Rinzai Zen), never looking outdoors.

JOEI-JI. – “the garden of eternal splendor”

It is divided into two parts, a traditional part dominated by the lake and the islands and a second part formed by a dry landscape garden.
In the basic idea of the garden it has been taken into account that the spectator had to contemplate it from three different perspectives, the viewpoint of the main building, from the small tea pavilion and a third perspective to the east where the reflection of the viewpoint on the lake could be seen.

Your Inspiration for Your Home The Philosophy of the Japanese Garden

DAISEN-IN. – “the great temple of the hermit”

The Great Hermit Temple is a secondary temple of the Daikotu-ji, the largest and most important religious complex of Zen Buddhism in Japan.
This garden is an unsurpassed example of the impressive strength of its simplicity, which presents a clear symbolic meaning within a very small space.
The mythical Mount Horai and its rivers are reproduced here. The trimmed camellia bushes represent Mount Horai.
The northern garden is an empty surface covered with pebbles that symbolizes the sea. In the northeast is one of the most beautiful triadic groups of stones in Japan.
In the southwest, there is a fig tree under which Gautama Buddha was traditionally enlightened.
Stones in the form of boats and turtles, all with possibilities for even deeper esoteric interpretation.

SHINJU-UN. Daitoku. -ji- “the pearl hermitage

Shinju-un was established in 1491 in memory of the priest of Zen, Ikkyu, who was high priest of Daitoku-ji from 1474 to 1481. Ikyu played a crucial part in reviving the Daitoku-ji Temple complex following its collapse in the Onin War.
The landscape garden and dry tea house was built in 1638 and is attributed to Kanamori Sowa, who was a tea master in the Japanese Alps.
The numerical composition of the stone arrangement is the same as Ryoan-ji, 7-5-3-, but instead of sand it is covered with moss and surrounded by a hedge.

Your Inspiration for Your Home The Philosophy of the Japanese Garden

The Relationship Of The Muromachi Era With Nature And The Art Of Gardening

It is clear that the conception of the garden had passed from the hands of the Zen monks and the professional garden artists and the “kawaramono”.
Gardening was considered a good example of the attitude of the nobility and an elegant pastime.
In the Muromachi era gardening ended up becoming an almost exclusive domain of the Zen monks.
But in the creation of Japanese gardens, not only were nobles, monks and Zen painters, all from the most privileged classes, involved, but people from other social classes, the Kawaramono,” people from the riverbank “who over time gained experience in garden construction.
For Hisamotsu Shinisi, gardening is one of the many arts inspired by Zen Buddhism. The seven characteristics he cited and which have become famous are
Asymmetry, Simplicity, Austere majesty or majestic, Aridity, Naturalness, Refined depth or deep reserve, Suspended serenity and Peace.
All the gardens in the dry landscape of the Muromachi era are part of a Zen temple.
The rock compositions have acquired various apocryphal names: “the rock that never ages”, “the rock of the ten thousand eons” or “the rock of the spiritual king”, most of the names come from the Chinese Taoist rite of the “Islands of the Blessed” or “the rock of the tremendous mist”, “the rock that hides the boat”, “the rock of the bridge anchor” are other names that apply to it.
Others because of their simple position “rock growing up” or “rock straight and lying down”, the stones all acquired their own meaning.

The Momoyama Period (1568-1600)

The time of Momoyama was brief, just 32 years, and was largely filled with conflicts between the daimyo, the leaders of the Japanese feudal clans.
The main centers of power and culture in Japan were the fortified castles of the daimyo, upon which new cities and gardens were built.
The traditional garden of the time had one or two ponds or lakes next to the main house, or shoin, not far from the castle. The most famous garden of this type, built in 1592, is located near Tokushima Castle on the island of Shikoku.
The impressive features include a 10.5 meter long bridge constructed of two natural stones.
Another impressive garden from the period that still survives is Sanbo-in, restored by Toyotomi Hideyoshi in 1598 to commemorate the cherry blossom festival and to replicate the splendor of the ancient garden. Three hundred workers worked on the garden scheme, the construction of the lakes and the building of 700 blocks in an area of 540 square meters. The garden was planned to be seen from the terrace of the main pavilion, or from the “Hall of Clear Sight,” situated at a higher elevation in the garden.

Your Inspiration for Your Home The Philosophy of the Japanese Garden

The New Garden Of The Momoyama Era. -Roji, the rustic tea garden.

Tea. -Elixir of the immortals and a drink that encourages communal living.
The creation of this garden coincided with the ostentatious Momoyama era. Its appearance is linked to the “simple and intimate tea ritual” at the end of the 16th century.
The tea garden is called in Japanese “roji” which should be not a garden of contemplation, but a path, a path to be walked as part of the essential ritual of the tea ceremony.
His interest in tea was not based on social reasons, but rather on medicinal and moral reasons. Tea was believed to be a healthy drink and the maintenance of health was considered a Buddhist virtue.
“Roji” is the wonderful realm of perfection of the body and soul.
The tea ceremony in the small room serves primarily for the practice of Buddhism and has as its goal enlightenment.
A narrow entrance, to cross it you have to make a kind of zig-zag, the garden appears sometimes divided by hedges or doors, in the outside and inside.
Outside, guests are welcomed, while inside it is a place of rest during the tea ceremony breaks. The host purifies the stones for the tea ceremony and sprinkles them with a little water before the guests arrive. The Japanese step that leads to the house, forces us to walk more slowly, the tea ceremony is a meditation technique.
At the entrance there is a “tsukubai”, a composition of stones with a small water basin made of stone, a place where the guests were purified bodily and ritually. Nearby, a small hole has been dug to bury pine leaves and needles, symbolically places where the guests must leave their impure feelings and thoughts.
The more obstacles interrupt the path to the tea house, the more sacred the place must be.

Your Inspiration for Your Home The Philosophy of the Japanese Garden

Tea ceremony

A tea ceremony can last up to four hours, first it includes a light meal, then two kinds of tea are served, first a strong one and then a softer one.
Guests usually retire to the “uchi-Koshikake” during the short break between the two parties.
The “tobi-ishi” (coffee table) leads the guest to a stone lantern and a small stone sink.
Before entering the tea house, the guest washes his hands and rinses his mouth in the water basin, in a religious sense, to purify himself of spiritual worries and impurities.
The basin is called “tsukubai” which means “place where you have to kneel”, you enter through a door of 60 cm. by 60 cm. that can only be entered by crawling, becoming aware of your own body.
The teahouse resembles a hermit’s hut on the outside because of its simplicity.
“Never forget that the way of tea is nothing more than this; heat the water, prepare the tea and drink it. Sen no Rikyu
The interior of the tea house should be a space closed to the outside, however, in Katsura their buildings all open completely to the garden. The new beauty ideal of the tea masters was the originality of the artist, rather than the imitation of nature or the models of the old masters.
Flashlights and stone piles were already in use for a long time and became integral elements of the tea garden.
The Roji follows very strict rules of design and execution; with very concrete and ordered constructive elements; apart from this, there are a multitude of models, according to the taste, refinement, and capacity of the designer.

Your Inspiration for Your Home The Philosophy of the Japanese Garden

Edo Period (1615-1867)

During the Edo era, control was acquired and retained by the Tokugawa clan, which became the Shoguns, and transferred to the capital city of Edo, which became Tokyo.
At this time, Japan, with the exception of Nagasaki, was virtually inaccessible to foreigners, and the Japanese were not permitted to fly to another country but China and the Netherlands.
The emperor remained in Kyoto as a puppet leader, with only cultural and religious authority.
Although Tokyo was now the political center of Japan, Kyoto was the intellectual capital, the home of religion and literature.
The shoguns (shoguns were generals who served as dictators) still had little influence, but provided substantial subsidies for the building of gardens.
The Sukiya style was used in the most famous garden of the time, the Katsura Imperial Villa in Kyoto.
Most of the gardens of the Edo period were walking or dry gardens of Zen rocks, and they were generally much larger than the earlier gardens.
It may be imitations of famous natural scenery, such as Mount Fuji, or Taoist or Buddhist images, stories, or scenery depicting poetry lines.
In comparison to the Zen gardens, which were designed to represent nature.

Meji Period (1868-1912)

The Meiji era saw the unification of Japan and the re-opening of Japan to the west.
Most of the former private gardens were neglected and left to decay.
In 1871, a new statute turned much of the Momoyama and Edo gardens into urban parks for the restoration of the gardens.
The outstanding gardens of this time include:
Kenroku-in the 18th and 19th centuries, completed in 1874.
Murin-an in Kyoto, completed in 1898

Your Inspiration for Your Home The Philosophy of the Japanese Garden

Modern Japanese Garden (1912 to present)

During the time of the Showa (1926-1988), many traditional gardens were developed by businessmen and politicians.
Following the Second World War, the major garden owners were no longer private individuals, but banks, hospitals , universities and government departments.
The Japanese garden has been an extension of the architecture of the house.
The new gardens were designed by designers trained at architectural schools, and modern building materials, such as concrete and cement, could now be used.
Some modern Japanese gardens, such as Tofuku-ji, designed by Mirei Shigemori, were inspired by classic models.
Many new gardens have followed a much more progressive approach to customs.
One example is Awaji Yumebutai, a garden on Awaji Island in the Seto Sea of Japan, designed by Tadao Ando.
This was built as part of a resort and convention center on a steep hill, where the ground had been reclaimed by converting the island into an airport.

Your Inspiration for Your Home The Philosophy of the Japanese Garden

Adachi Museum

The Adachi Museum of Art is not only famous for its collection of contemporary Japanese paintings, but also for its gardens.
Adachi Zenko, founder of the museum, traveled all over Japan, collecting pines and rocks from the landscape gardens and putting his heart and soul into their creation. The six gardens, totaling about 165,000 square meters, display a variety of seasonal landscapes.
Where you can enjoy the beautiful harmony of nature through art.

The Relationship Of Today’s World With Nature And The Art Of Gardening

At a historical moment when Japan’s environment threatens to be destroyed by industry, urbanism and the excessive consumerism of mass society, new designers are appearing.
Kenzo Tange.” We like worked stone because it reflects the will of the artist. Neither natural stones nor the way they were placed in traditional gardens reflect the slightest trace of human personality. They are simply there, motionless, without letting you know about the human desire to create something beautiful”.
Before his death in 1989, sculptor Noguchi Isamu wrote, “A garden always emerges in collaboration with nature. The traces of man’s shaping hand disappear with time. Nature makes them disappear, makes moss or anything else grow over them, and suddenly you find that you have disappeared. I want to show myself. That’s why I’m modern. I am not an “ueky-ya” tree planter.
There is a desire to impose on nature the supposedly autonomous will of man.
The consequences of this dualistic thinking lead to the uncontrolled exploitation, destruction and pollution of our planet, leading to the “death of nature”.

Your Inspiration for Your Home The Philosophy of the Japanese Garden

Garden Elements

Japanese gardens still have water, whether it’s a pond or a lake, or, in a dry rock garden, white sand.
In Buddhist mythology, water and stone are yin and yang, two contrasting poles that balance and fulfill each other.
Modern gardens typically have an irregularly shaped pond or, in broad gardens, two or three ponds attached to each other.a canal or stream, and a waterfall, a miniature version of Japan’s famous mountain waterfalls.
Throughout traditional gardens, ponds and streams are strategically arranged, according to Buddhist theory, art and science, to make it the most possible location to draw good fortune.
The water distribution law is laid out in the first Japanese Garden Manual, Sakuteiki, or “Creation of Gardens” in the 11th century.
According to Sakuteiki, water will reach the garden from the east or southeast, and flow westward, since the east is home to the Green Dragon (Seiryu), an ancient Chinese god adapted to Japan, and the west is home to the White Tiger, the goddess of the east.
The water flows from east to west to get along, and the owner of the garden is going to be safe and enjoy a long life.
According to the Sakutei-ki, there is another beneficial practice for water to flow from the north, representing flame in Buddhist cosmology, to the south, reflecting fire, which is either contrary, or ying yang, and thereby attracting good luck.
The Sakuteiki suggests a variety of miniature landscapes of potential lakes and ponds, the “ocean model” that includes cliffs that appear to have been battered by tides, sandy beach and pine trees, the “big river model” that recreates the course of a large river, meandering like a serpent, the “swamp style,” a large pond of water plants.
Go on: “Mountain stream style,” with a lot of rocks and waterfalls, and “pink”letter” style, an austere landscape with small, low plants, gentle relief and many scattered flat rocks.
Traditional Japanese gardens have tiny islands in their lakes. There is normally an island in the holy temple gardens representing Mount Penglai or Mount Horai, the ancestral residence of the Eight Immortals.
The Sakuteiki explains the various types of artificial islands that can be formed in the lakes, including the “mountain island,” consisting of rugged vertical rocks combined with pine trees, surrounded by a sandy shore, the “rocky island,” made up of “tormented” rocks that seem to have been pounded by the waves of the sea..
Along with small trees, old pines with unusual shapes, the “cloud island”, with white sand in the white rounded shapes of a cloud cluster, and the “misty island”, a low sand island, without rocks or trees.
A waterfall is also an important feature in Japanese gardens, a smaller variant of Japanese mountain waterfalls.
The Sakuteiki defines seven different forms of waterfall. He also points out that, if possible, the waterfall will face the moon and be built to represent the moon in the water.

Your Inspiration for Your Home The Philosophy of the Japanese Garden

Rocks and Sand

Stone, sand and gravel are the main characteristics of the Japanese landscape.
A vertical rock may depict Mount Horai, the mythical house of the Eight Immortals, or Mount Sumer of Buddhist instruction, or a leap from the tent into the sea.
A flat rock may have reflected the earth.
Sand or gravel may be a sea, a lake or a rushing river.
Rocks and water both symbolize yin and yang, (and me in Japanese) in Buddhist philosophy, hard rock and soft water balance each other, and water, though gentle, will strip away the rock.
Volcanic rocks (kasei-gan) are generally used to represent mountains or as steps.
Medium, circular sedimentary rock (Suisei-gan) is used near lakes or at intersection points.
Big, metamorphic rocks are typically put in waterfalls or streams.
Traditionally, rocks are graded as high vertical, low vertical, arched, reclining, or smooth. The rock is expected to differ in size and hue, just one from the other, but without the vivid colors that lack the subtlety. The rocks with layers or crystals should have cracks in the same direction, and the rocks should all be tightly rooted in the earth, providing the impression of firmness and resilience.
The rocks are set in delicate arrangements of two , three, five, or seven-year – old rocks, three of which are the most common.
In an arrangement of three, a higher rock usually represents the sky, the rock is shorter than the earth, and the medium sized rock is the mankind, the bridge between the sky and the earth.
Often one or more stones, called SuteiShi (“unnamed” or “discarded”), are positioned at apparently random positions in the garden to indicate spontaneity, but their positioning is deliberately selected.

Your Inspiration for Your Home The Philosophy of the Japanese Garden

Throughout ancient Japan, sand (sun) and gravel (jari) were used for Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples.
Earlier, they were used in Japanese rock gardens or Zen Buddhist gardens to represent water or clouds.
White sand is clean, but it may also be red , brown or blue-black sand, lanterns, art , science, etc.
Bridges first appeared in the Japanese garden during the Heian period.
In the Byodo-Kyoto Park, a wooden bridge links the Phoenix Pavilion to a small island of stones, representing Mount Penglai or Mount Horai, the home of the eight Daoist teaching immortals, the bridge symbolizes the road to heaven and eternity.
The bridges may be constructed of stone (Ishibashi) or timber, or of earthen logs on the edges, lined with moss (Dobashi) because they could be arched (soribashi) or flat (hirabashi).
Occasionally, whether they were part of the temple garden, they were painted red, following Chinese custom, but for most of them they were unpainted.
Throughout the Edo era, when the large walking gardens became popular, streams and paths were constructed with a series of bridges, typically in a rustic stone or wooden style, to lead tourists on a tour of the panoramic view of the area.

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Stone Lanterns And Water Basins

Japanese stone lanterns date back to the Nara and Heian periods.
Originally they were used only in the Buddhist temples, where they were lined up along the roads and entering the temple, but in the Heian era they even started to be seen in the Shinto shrines.
Traditionally, during the Momoyama era, tea masters were brought into the tea garden at night for lighting, and later in the gardens, they were used solely for decoration.
In its complete and original shape, the dai-doro, like the pagoda, reflects the five components of Buddhist cosmology.
The segment that touches the ground represents the chi, the earth, the next section represents the sui, or the water; the ka or the fire is represented by a portion containing the light of the lantern or the flame, while the FU (air) and the Ku (void or spirit) are represented by the last two parts, from above and pointing to the heavens.
The fragments reflect the basic notion that they revert to their original form following the death of our human bodies.
The stone water reservoirs (tsukubai) were initially built in the gardens for guests to wash their hands and mouths before the tea ceremony.
Water is supplied to the reservoir by a bamboo hose, or Kakei, and they typically have a wooden ladle for drinking water.

Your Inspiration for Your Home The Philosophy of the Japanese Garden

The Trees And The Flowers

Everything in the Japanese garden is natural or left to chance, every plant is selected according to esthetic values, whether to cover unwelcome views, to act as a backdrop for other features of the garden, or to create a picturesque landscape.
The trees are deliberately picked and designed for the colors of their dropping. Moss is also used to indicate that the garden is a very ancient one. The flowers are therefore specifically picked for the flowering season.
Formal flower beds are uncommon in larger gardens, although they are more common in smaller gardens.
Many plants are selected for their religious significance, such as the lotus, holy to the Buddhist scriptures, or the oak, which reflects immortality.
The trees are removed carefully, creating beautiful scenery and keeping them from disrupting other parts of the landscape.
Their development is often regulated, using a technique called Niwaki, to give them the most picturesque shapes and an older look.
Often they are required to bend in order to create different colors or reflections in the mud.
Quite old pines are often protected by wooden crutches, or their roots are held by chains, in order to keep them from splitting under the weight of snow.
In the 16th century , a new technology was created in the Japanese garden, that of o-karikomi, a technique of cutting bushes into balls or circular shapes imitating waves.
Traditionally, this technique was developed by Kobori Enshu (1579-1647) and is most commonly done on bush azaleas.
It was similar to the topiary art used in Europe, while at the same time he tried to make trees look like solid geometric objects, while o-karkikomi tried to make bushes in a stream of natural shapes.
He created an imaginative piece of light on the surface of the bramble bush and, according to garden historian Michel Baridon, “also put into play the concept of ‘touching’ items that are still popular in Japanese architecture.
Azaleas (Tsutsuji), camellias (tsubaki), oak (Kashiwa), Japanese apricot (ume), cherry (sakura), maple (momiji), willow (yanagi), ginkgo (Icho), Japanese cypress (hinoki), Japanese cedar (sugi), pine (matsu) and bamboo (take) are the most common trees and plants grown in Japanese gardens.

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Fish – Japanese Koi

The use of fish, particularly nishiki-goi (carp colored) or goldfish as a decorative item in the gardens was taken from the Chinese garden.
Goldfish was produced about a thousand years ago in China through selective breeding of Prussian colored carp for mutations.
By the Song Dynasty (960-1279), the colours were black, green, white and red and white.
Goldfish was introduced into Japan in the 16th century.
In the 1820s, Koi originated from common carp in Japan.
Koi (Cyprinus carpio) is a freshwater fish similar to goldfish that may also have hybrid offspring.
It has been introduced in all continents except Antarctica.
It is included in the list of 100 of the world’s most harmful invasive alien species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. They are domesticated and selected or killed for color, are not a different species, and will return to their original coloring within a few generations if allowed to reproduce freely.

Your Inspiration for Your Home The Philosophy of the Japanese Garden

Chisen-Shoyu-Teien or garden pond

The chisen-shoyu-teien, literally “a spring lake or a garden walk,” was introduced from China during the Heian period (794-1185).
It is often referred to as the shinden-zukuri style, as is the architectural theme of the main house. It had a huge house, furnished with two large wings leading south to a wide lake and garden. Every wing ends in a pavilion from where you can enjoy the view of the lake.
Visitors visited the lake in small boats.
These gardens had large lakes with tiny islands, where performers were playing at parties and worshiping rituals, where you could see the Buddha through the mist.
No original gardens from this period are preserved, but reconstructions can be seen at Heian-Jingu and Daikaku-ji Temple in Kyoto.

The Garden Of Paradise

The Paradise Garden appeared at the end of the Heian Period, created by the nobles belonging to the Amida sect of Buddhism. They were supposed to symbolize Paradise or the Pure Land (Jodo), where the Buddha sat on a platform looking at a lotus pond.
These gardens contained an island lake named Nakajima, where the Buddha’s hall is located, linked by an arched bridge to the sea. The most prominent surviving example is the Byodo-Phoenix Hall garden in the temple, founded in 1053, in Uji, near Kyoto.
Other examples include the Joruri-ji Temple in Kyoto, the Enro-ji Temple in Nara Prefecture, the Hokongoin Temple in Kyoto, the Motsu-ji Temple in Hiraizumi, and the Shiramizu Amidado Garden in Iwaki City.

Your Inspiration for Your Home The Philosophy of the Japanese Garden

Kaiyu-Shiki-Teien or walking gardens

Walking gardens (gardens in a go-round style) emerged in Japan during the Edo era (1600-1854), in the villas of nobles or warlords.
These gardens were designed to complement the modern Sukiya-zukuri style of architecture, influenced by the tea house.
Such gardens were designed to be viewed from a walk to the right across the lake from one beautifully planned scene to another.
This gardens used two techniques of interest; Shakkei, or ‘borrowed landscape,’ which took advantage of views of landscapes beyond the garden, such as mountains or temples, adding them to make the garden look bigger than it actually was; and miegakure, or ‘hide-and-seek,’ which used paths, bamboo walls, and houses to conceal the environment from the tourist until he or she is i.
In the Edo period, these gardens have frequently featured recreations of famous landscapes or literary-inspired scenery; Suizen-ji-en Joju Garden in Kumamoto has a miniature version of Mt. Fuji, and Katsura Villa in Kyoto has a miniature version of Ama-no-Hashidate sandbank in Miyazu Bay, near Kyoto.
The Rikugi Garden

Tsubo-Niwa or courtyard garden.

Originally located in the inner courtyards of the Heian era and in the palaces, these small gardens were built to give the inhabitants at the rear of the house an sense of nature and some privacy.
They were as small as a tsubo, or around 3.3 square metres.
During the Edo era, traders began to create small gardens in the space behind their stores, which overlooked the street, and their residences, which were located at the rear.
Such small gardens were intended to be viewed, not visited, and generally had a stone lantern, a water fountain, stairs, and some trees.
Tsubo-niwa is now used in several Japanese homes, hotels , restaurants and public buildings.
A good example of the Meiji era can be found in the village of Murin-an in Kyoto.

Your Inspiration for Your Home The Philosophy of the Japanese Garden

Chapel Gardens

A hermitage garden is a small garden that is traditionally designed by a samurai or government official who wished to retire from public life and dedicate himself to research and contemplation. It was built into a rustic home, and we approached it with a twisting road that indicates that it is deep in the wood.
It could have a tiny pool, a Japanese rock garden, and the other features of the conventional gardens, in miniature, built to establish tranquility and inspiration.
One example is the garden of the Shisen-dō in Kyoto, designed by a learned bureaucrat and banished by the shogun in the 17th century. It’s a Buddhist temple now.

The Literature And Art Of The Japanese Garden

Gardening Manuals

The first Japanese gardening manual was ‘The Sakuteiki’ (‘Garden Documents of Decisions’), possibly published in the 11th century by Tachibana no Tohshitsuna (1028-1094).
Citing also the oldest Chinese springs, he describes how to plan the environment, from the location of rocks and streams to the proper depth of the ponds and the height of the waterfalls.
Though it is based on the ancient ideals of the Chinese Garden, it also presents concepts that are specific to Japanese gardens, such as islands, beaches and rock formations that resemble Japanese landscapes.
In addition to giving advice,Sakuteiki also gives warnings of what happens if the rules are not followed, the author warns that if a rock that was in a horizontal position in nature stands up in a garden, it will bring bad luck to the garden owner.
And if a big rock pointing to the north or west is put in a door, the owner of the garden may be compelled to leave within a year.
Another important research on the Japanese garden, bonseki, bonsai arts and the like was Rhymeprose in the Miniature Landscape Garden (around 1300) by the Zen monk Kokan Shiren, which describes how meditation on a miniature garden purifies the senses and the mind and contributes to an understanding of the right relationship between man and nature.
Senzui Narabi ni Yagyo no Zu (Illustrations for the Layout of Mountain, River and Hillside Country Landscapes), published in the 15th century, and Tsukiyama Teizoden (Building Mountains and Making Gardens) from the 18th century are two influential garden manuals that helped describe the design of the Japanese landscape.
The practice of Japanese gardening has traditionally been handed down from sensei to apprentice. The first words of the Illustrations for the Layout of Forest, River and Countryside Landscapes (1466) are, “When you have not received oral messages, you should not make gardens” and their closing note is, “You can never give outsiders this text. You must keep it hidden.

Your Inspiration for Your Home The Philosophy of the Japanese Garden

Gardens in Literature And Poetry

The tale of Genji, a classic Japanese novel from the Heian era, depicts the role of the Japanese garden in court life.
The characters visit festivities in Kyoto ‘s former Imperial Palace Park, take boat trips to the harbor, listen to songs, and observe the formal dances under the trees. Gardens were always the subject of poetry throughout the Heian era.
One poem in the anthology of the time, the Kokin-Shu, described the Kiku-shima, or the island of Chrysanthemums, which is situated in the Osawa Pond in the wide garden of the period called Saga-in.

I had thought that only a chrysanthemum could grow here.

So who has planted the other one in the depths of Osawa Pond?

Another poem of the Heian period, in the isshu Hyakunin, described a waterfall of rocks, simulating a waterfall, in the same garden:

The waterfall long ago stopped roaring,

But we still hear the murmur of his name.

Philosophy, Painting And The Japanese Garden

In Japanese society, the decision-making garden is a wonderful art, similar to the art of calligraphy and ink painting.
Gardens are known to be three-dimensional in Taoist and Zen Buddhist textbooks.
Often the lesson is very literal, the Saiho-ji Garden gave a pond formed by the Japanese character Shin or xīn in Chinese, the heart and soul of Chinese thought, the periodic character is just the full italics, the subho form of the shin that should be used; sousho, is also called “grass writing”, would be appropriate for gardening purpose in fact in cursive to write the shapes of the characters change according to the context and of course since it is cursive, depending on the person, that is the character would be made in a single pencil stroke, would match the mood and context rather than the newspaper printing.
Classes, though, are generally found in the organization of rocks, water and plants.
For eg, the lotus flower has a special message; its roots lie in the mud at the bottom of the pond, symbolizing the suffering of human life, but the flower is pure white, symbolizing the purity of spirit that can be attained by observing the teachings of the Buddha.
Japanese rock gardens were supposed to be mental puzzles for the monks who lived next door to learn and solve.

Your Inspiration for Your Home The Philosophy of the Japanese Garden

They adopted the same ideals as the Suiboku-ga, the black and white squares of Japanese ink of the same era, which, in keeping with the Zen Buddhist values, attempted to attain maximal effect with minimal basic elements.
One of the painters who inspired the Japanese garden was Josetsu (1405-1423), a Chinese Zen monk who came to Japan and developed a new form of brush ink art, moving away from the romantic misty scenes of the previous period, and using asymmetry and white space, close to the white space produced by sand in the Zen gardens, to set aside and highlight a mountain or tree branch or other elements.
He was the chief painter of the Shogun and inspired a generation of garden painters and designers.
Japanese gardens also adopt the ideals of perspective of Japanese landscape art, which has a foreground, a middle ground and a backdrop.
The open space between the various planes is of considerable value and is packed with mud, grass, or sand.
Garden designs employ a number of optical techniques to give the greenhouse the appearance of being bigger than it actually is, including a span of “borrowed scenery” beyond the garden, with the employ of miniature trees and shrubs to generate the impression that they are far apart.

Featured Japanese Gardens

The Minister of Education, Environment, Recreation, Science and Technology of the Government of Japan designates the most magnificent scenic beauty of the world as areas of exceptional scenic beauty under the Act for the Preservation of Cultural Property. As of 1 March 2007, 29 locations have been identified, more than half of which are Japanese gardens, as follows.

  • Tohoku Region Motsu-ji Garden ( Hiraizumi, Iwate )
  • Kantō Kairaku-en region ( Mito, Ibaraki )
  • Rikugi-en ( Chiyoda, Tokyo )
  • Kyu Hamarikyu Gardens ( Yokohama )
  • The region of Chubu Kenroku-en (Kanazawa, Ishikawa)
  • Ichijōdani Asakura Gardens Family ( Fukui, Fukui )
  • Kansai Byodo-Garden Region ( Uji, Kyoto )
  • Jisho-ji Garden ( Kyoto, Kyoto )
  • Nijō Castle Ninomaru Garden ( Kyoto, Kyoto )
  • Rokuon-ji Garden ( Kyoto, Kyoto )
  • Ryoan-ji Garden ( Kyoto, Kyoto )
  • Tenryu-ji Garden ( Kyoto, Kyoto )
  • The garden of Sanbōin in Daigo-ji ( Kyoto, Kyoto )
  • The moss garden of Saiho-ji (the “Moss Temple”) ( Kyoto, Kyoto )
  • Daitoku-ji Garden ( Kyoto, Kyoto )
Your Inspiration for Your Home The Philosophy of the Japanese Garden

Saihō-ji is a Zen Buddhist temple located in the west outside Kyoto. It is commonly known as Koke-dera because of the 120 species of moss it contains.

  • The Daisen-in Garden at Daitoku-ji ( Kyoto , Kyoto )
  • Murin, a garden, Kyoto, Kyoto
  • Negoro-ji Garden ( Iwade, Wakayama )
  • Chūgoku region
  • Adachi Museum of Art Garden ( Yasugi, Shimane )
  • Koraku-en ( Okayama, Okayama )
  • Matsue Vogel Park ( Matsue )
  • Shuraku-en , ( Tsuyama )
  • Shikoku Region
  • Ritsurin Garden ( Takamatsu, Kagawa )
  • Nakatsu Banshoen ( Marugame, Kagawa )
  • Tensha-en ( Uwajima, Ehime )
  • Kyushu Suizen-ji-en Joju Region ( Kumamoto, Kumamoto )
  • Sengoku-en ( Kagoshima, Kagoshima )
  • Islands Ryūkyū Shikina-en ( Naha, Okinawa )

However, the Minister of Education is not eligible to have jurisdiction over any imperial property. These two gardens, administered by the Imperial House Agency, are also considered to be great masterpieces.

  • The Katsura Imperial Villa
  • The Imperial Village in Shugaku
Your Inspiration for Your Home The Philosophy of the Japanese Garden

In the English-Speaking WorldWORLD

The esthetics of Japanese gardens was introduced to the English-speaking world by Josiah Conder Landscape Architecture in Japan (Kelly & Walsh, 1893).
The first Japanese gardens were opened in the North. In 1912, a second edition was requested.
Conder ‘s principles have often proved difficult to follow: “We have been stripped of their local costumes and movements, the Japanese method exposes esthetic principles relevant to the gardens of every region, teaching, as it does, how to transform a poem or an picture into a composition which, with all its variety of details, otherwise lacks unity and intent.”
Building Japanese Garden Samuel Newsom (1939) proposed Japanese beauty as a correction in the design of rock gardens, which owe their somewhat different origins in the West to the 19th century in order to grow alpine plants in a rocky Alpine landscape.
According to the Garden History Society, the Japanese landscaper Seyemon Kusumoto has been active in the construction of some 200 gardens in the United Kingdom.
In 1937, he showed a rock garden at the Chelsea Flower Show and worked at the Burngreave estate in Bognor Regis, as well as at the Cottered Japanese Garden in Hertfordshire.
Kusumoto planned the leafy courtyards of Du Cane Court, an art deco apartment block in Balham, London, constructed between 1935 and 1938.
Initially, the four courtyards may have housed ponds. Only one of them survives, and is packed with koi
There are also many stone lanterns, which are intended to symbolize the light of our journey through life, and the paths through the gardens are not linear. Japanese plum, anemone, cherry trees, evergreen trees and bamboo are other common characteristics of the gardens of Du Cane Corte.

Australia

  • Auburn Botanical Garden , Sydney , New South Wales
  • Canberra Nara Park
  • Cowra Japanese Garden , Cowra, New South Wales
  • Himeji Gardens, Adelaide
  • Melbourne Zoo
  • “Tsuki-yama-chisen” Japanese Garden, Brisbane
  • Nerima Gardens, Ipswich
  • Toowomba Japanese Garden, Ju Raku En, Queensland

New Zealand

  • Hamilton Gardens, Waikato

Canada

  • Japanese Garden at the Devonian Botanical Garden, Edmonton, Alberta Nitobe Memorial Garden , Vancouver , British Columbia
  • Nikka Yuko Japanese Garden , Lethbridge , Alberta
  • The Japanese Garden and Pavilion , Montreal Botanical Garden , Quebec
  • Kariya Park, Mississauga , Ontario
  • India
  • Japanese Garden, Moti Jheel , Kanpur
  • Buddha Park, Indira Nagar, Kalianpur , Kanpur
Your Inspiration for Your Home The Philosophy of the Japanese Garden

England

  • Ame (rain) private Japanese style garden near Bolton Lancashire in England – an ongoing project
  • Compton Acres , Dorset
  • Dartington Hall , Devon
  • Harewood House , Leeds
  • Holland Park , London
  • St Mawgan in Pydar , Cornwall
  • Tatton Park , Cheshire
  • School of Oriental and African Studies, London

Northern Ireland

  • Sir Thomas and Lady Dixon Park , Belfast
  • Fujiyama Japanese Garden

Scotland

  • Lauriston Castle , Edinburgh-garden opened in 2002

Ireland

  • The Japanese gardens at Irish National Stud , Kildare , Co. Kildare

Singapore

  • Japanese Garden – an island garden located in Jurong Lake
Your Inspiration for Your Home The Philosophy of the Japanese Garden

United States of America

  • Claude Monet , Bridge over a Pool of Lilies, 1899, Metropolitan Museum of Serene Garden Art ( Grand Island, New York )
  • Anderson Japanese Gardens ( Rockford, Illinois )
  • Brooklyn Botanical Garden ( Brooklyn , New York )
  • Chicago Botanic Garden ( Glencoe, Illinois )
  • Earl Burns Miller Japanese Garden ( California State University, Long Beach )
  • Fort Worth Japanese Garden at the Fort Worth Botanic Garden ( Fort Worth , Texas )
  • Japanese Hagiwara Tea Garden ( San Francisco, California )
  • Hakone Gardens ( Saratoga, California )
  • Hayward Japanese Gardens ( Hayward, California ), the oldest traditional Japanese design garden in California. [64]
  • The Huntington ( San Marino, California )
  • Japanese Friendship Garden (Phoenix, Arizona)
  • Japanese Friendship Garden (Kelley Park) ( San Jose, California )
  • Japanese Garden at Marjorie McNeely Conservatory (St Paul, Minnesota)
  • Maymont Park – Japanese Garden ( Richmond, VA )
  • Japanese garden in Minnesota Landscape Arboretum (near Chanhassen, Minnesota )
  • In Kumamoto (San Antonio, Texas)
  • Japanese Morikami Museum and Gardens , Delray Beach, Florida
  • Normandale Japanese Garden (Bloomington, Minnesota)
  • Portland Japanese Garden (Portland, Oregon)
  • Seattle Japanese Garden at the Washington Park Arboretum , Kubota Garden ( Seattle , Washington )
  • The Japanese Garden (Los Angeles, California)
  • Seiwa-at the Missouri Botanical Garden (St. Louis, Missouri)
  • Shofuso Japanese House and Garden , Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • Taniguchi Japanese Garden (Austin, Texas)
  • Yuko-Elk Horn ( Georgetown, Kentucky )

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