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att. Japanese Culture - The Charm of Japanese Gardens
att. Culture - The Charm of Japanese Gardens
You are here: att.JAPAN > General Information > The Charm of Japanese Gardens
att.JAPAN Issue 45, March 2009

The Charm of Japanese Gardens

Blessed by beautiful nature, Japanese people have loved natural beauty and seasonal changes in the scenery. Such Japanese people have created and fostered Japanese gardens. Once, “flower” simply meant cherry blossoms for Japanese. In spring, they enjoy seeing cherry blossoms blooming gorgeously, and in early summer, they enjoy a cool breeze, surrounded by fresh greenery. In autumn, the country is clothed in the colors of autumn, and in winter, gardens become silvery landscapes when it snows. Even if you visit a garden, if you visit only once, you may not understand the whole charm of the garden. Visiting again and again, you will not fail to find new attractions.

 Water
Water provides a soothing atmosphere to Japanese gardens. Brooks and waterfalls also create something dynamic – feelings of movement such as streams, lights and sounds – in static gardens.

1. Rikugien: In the early 17th century, daimyo feudal lords started to build large gardens near their houses. Rikugien is an elegant circuit style garden, with themes from Japanese waka poems.

2. Motsu-ji Temple: This temple’s garden is Japan’s oldest garden based on concepts of Pure Land Buddhism. Aristocrats of the Heian Era enjoyed boating on the pond of the garden. Sounds were amplified by the water and aristocrats must have enjoyed the superb “stereo sound.”

3. Katsura Imperial Villa : The garden is fine example of a circuit style garden.

4. Tenryu-ji Temple: This temple has a circuit style garden with a pond.

5. Meiji Jingu Shrine: This shrine enshrines the deified souls of Emperor Meiji and his consort, Empress Shoken. There is a springwater well, which is rare in the center of the big city.

6. Kenrokuen: As you walk around the garden, a variety of landscapes comes into view.

 


 Karesansui (Dry landscape garden style)
In karesansui gardens, waterfalls are depicted with rocks, without using water. Variously shaped rocks puzzle you as to what they represent and invite you into a world of unlimited imagination.

1. The front garden of Tofuku-ji Temple: The garden has motifs from Zen and other Buddhist thought.

2. The northern garden of Tofuku-ji Temple: The original garden of a Zen temple has been developed as a garden attached to a tea-ceremony house ensconced among trees.

3. Ryoan-ji Temple: The front garden consists of 15 rocks and white sand.

4. Adachi Museum of Art: The garden is a modern-style dry landscape garden. It contains all elements of the Japanese garden, such as white sand, green pines, miniature hills and “borrowed landscapes.”

 


 

 Shakkei (Borrowed landscape)
A shakkei garden utilizes the view of surrounding hills or mountains and woods. Features of the surrounding scenery that harmonize with those of the garden itself are “borrowed” and integrated into the garden.

1. The Upper Garden of Shugakuin Imperial Villa: Spectacular scenery spreads forth from the back of the garden.

2. Senganen (Iso Garden): Majestic Sakurajima can be seen looming in the background, a splendid example of "borrowed scenery."

 Framed Garden
Tenryu-ji Temple: Peaked eaves cut the sky, framing heaven and earth, and gardens and scenery seem like a picture shown on a wide screen.


  Plants
Trees give a feeling of vitality to a garden, while flowers and autumn leaves add color.

1. Sankeien: Trees supply perspective to the landscape and blend in the building.

2. Kenrokuen: Overlapping trees give depth to the scenery.

3. Tenryu-ji Temple: Autumn leaves become vivid with the sunlight shining through. Leaves of the maples and willows are stirred by breezes.

4. Shisendo: The shape and size of trees is reduced through being trimmed and this brings the features of plants and the background scenery into relative prominence.

5. Shinen of Heian Jingu Shrine: The climax of “Sasameyuki” (The Makioka Sisters), a famous novel by Tanizaki Junichiro, is a cherry blossom viewing at Heian Jingu Shrine in Kyoto.


  Four Seasons
1. Rikugien
Spring / Cherry Tree

2. Motsu-ji Temple
Summer / Iris

3. Tenryu-ji Temple
Autumn / Foliage

4. Kenrokuen
Winter / Snow

 

 Museum with a lovely garden
The Kodansha Noma Memorial Museum (Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo) is located in Mejiro, a calm area with abundant greenery. Modern Japanese art works including ones by Yokoyama Taikan collected by Noma Seiji, the founder of Kodansha, one of the leading publishing companies, are exhibited. The big weeping cherry tree in its garden is well worth seeing, as are the magnolias and Japanese wisterias. An exhibition featuring two Japanese painters, Yokoyama Taikan and Kimura Buzan, will be held from March 14th through May 17th. Nearby are Chinzanso, a hotel famous for its splendid Japanese garden, Shouuen, which also has a fine garden but is not opened to the public except for tea ceremonies or film shooting, and Bashoan, which commemorates haiku poet Matsuo Basho, so visiting the museum may be one of the fun things to do when you walk around this interesting area.

 

 Garden List
Outstanding Gardens of Japan PDF144KB

 

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