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Japanese garden

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Title: Japanese garden  
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Japanese garden

Saihō-ji (Kyoto), also known as the "Moss Garden", begun in 1339

Japanese gardens (日本庭園 nihon teien) are traditional gardens that create miniature idealized landscapes, often in a highly abstract and stylized way.[1] The gardens of the Emperors and nobles were designed for recreation and aesthetic pleasure, while the gardens of Buddhist temples were designed for contemplation and meditation.

Japanese garden styles include karesansui, Japanese rock gardens or Zen gardens, which are meditation gardens where white sand replaces water; roji, simple, rustic gardens with teahouses where the Japanese tea ceremony is conducted; kaiyū-shiki-teien, promenade or stroll gardens, where the visitor follows a path around the garden to see carefully composed landscapes; and tsubo-niwa, small courtyard gardens.

Japanese gardens were developed under the influences of the Chinese gardens,[2] but gradually Japanese garden designers began to develop their own aesthetics, based on Japanese materials and Japanese culture. By the Edo period, the Japanese garden had its own distinct appearance.[3] Since the end of the 19th century, Japanese gardens have also been adapted to Western settings.


  • History 1
    • Origins 1.1
    • In antiquity 1.2
    • Gardens of the Heian period (794–1185) 1.3
    • Kamakura and Muromachi Periods (1185–1573) 1.4
    • The Momoyama Period (1568–1600) 1.5
    • Edo Period (1615–1867) 1.6
    • Meiji Period (1868–1912) 1.7
    • Modern Japanese gardens (1912 to present) 1.8
  • Garden elements 2
    • Water 2.1
    • Rocks and sand 2.2
    • Garden architecture 2.3
    • Garden bridges 2.4
    • Stone lanterns and water basins 2.5
    • Garden fences, gates, and devices 2.6
    • Trees and flowers 2.7
    • Fish 2.8
  • Aesthetic principles 3
  • Differences between Japanese and Chinese gardens 4
  • Garden styles 5
    • Chisen-shoyū-teien or pond garden 5.1
    • The Paradise Garden 5.2
    • Karesansui dry rock gardens 5.3
    • Roji, or tea gardens 5.4
    • Kaiyū-shiki-teien, or promenade gardens 5.5
    • Tsubo-niwa courtyard garden 5.6
    • Hermitage garden 5.7
  • Literature and art of the Japanese garden 6
    • Garden manuals 6.1
    • Gardens in literature and poetry 6.2
    • Philosophy, painting, and the Japanese garden 6.3
  • Noteworthy Japanese gardens 7
    • In Japan 7.1
    • In English-speaking nations 7.2
      • Australia 7.2.1
      • Canada 7.2.2
      • United Kingdom 7.2.3
      • Ireland 7.2.4
      • Singapore 7.2.5
      • United States of America 7.2.6
    • In other countries 7.3
  • See also 8
  • Sources and citations 9
  • Bibliography 10
  • External links 11



The idea of these unique gardens began during the Asuka period when Japanese merchants witnessed the gardens that were being built in China and became so inspired by the gardens that they would frequently import many facets of the Chinese culture back to their own country. Today, in many parts of Japan and the western part of the world the traditions of Japanese garden art still maintain their full intensity of expression and continue to inspire the many artists that aspire to create a personal Japanese garden of their own.

Ise Jingu, a Shinto shrine begun in the 7th century, surrounded by white gravel

Japanese gardens first appeared on the island of Honshu, the large central island of Japan. In their physical appearance they were influenced by the distinct characteristics of the Honshu landscape; rugged volcanic peaks, narrow valleys and mountain streams with waterfalls and cascades, lakes, and beaches of small stones. They were also influenced by the rich variety of flowers and different species of trees, particularly evergreen trees, on the islands, and by the four distinct seasons in Japan, including hot, wet summers and snowy winters.[4]

Japanese gardens have their roots in Japanese religion of Shinto, with its story of the creation of eight perfect islands, and of the shinchi, the lakes of the gods. Prehistoric Shinto shrines to the kami, the gods and spirits, are found on beaches and in forests all over the island. Sometimes they took the form of unusual rocks or trees, which were marked with cords of rice fiber (shimenawa), and surrounded with white stones or pebbles, a symbol of purity.[5] The white gravel courtyard became a distinctive feature of Shinto shrines, Imperial Palaces, Buddhist temples, and zen gardens.[6]

Japanese gardens also were strongly influenced by the Chinese philosophy of Daoism, and Amida Buddhism, imported from China in or around 552 AD. Daoist legends spoke of five mountainous islands inhabited by the Eight Immortals, who lived in perfect harmony with nature. Each Immortal flew from his mountain home on the back of a crane. The islands themselves were located on the back of an enormous sea turtle. In Japan, the five islands of the Chinese legend became one island, called Horai-zen, or Mount Horai. Replicas of this legendary mountain, the symbol of a perfect world, are a common feature of Japanese gardens, as are rocks representing turtles and cranes.[7]

In antiquity

The earliest recorded Japanese gardens were the pleasure gardens of the Japanese Emperors and nobles. They are mentioned in several brief passages of Nihon Shoki, the first chronicle of Japanese history, published in 720 AD. In the spring of the year 74 AD, the chronicle recorded: "The Emperor Keikō put a few carp into a pond, and rejoiced to see them morning and evening". The following year, "The Emperor launched a double-hulled boat in the pond of Ijishi at Ihare, and went aboard with his imperial concubine, and they feasted sumptuously together". And in 486, "The Emperor Kenzō went into the garden and feasted at the edge of a winding stream".[8]

The Chinese garden had a very strong influence on the early Japanese gardens. In or around 552 AD Buddhism was officially installed from China, via Korea, into Japan. Between 600 and 612, the Japanese Emperor sent four legations to the Court of the Chinese Sui Dynasty. Between 630 and 838, the Japanese court sent fifteen more legations to the court of the Tang Dynasty. These legations, with more than five hundred members each, included diplomats, scholars, students, Buddhist monks, and translators. They brought back Chinese writing, art objects, and detailed descriptions of Chinese gardens.

In 612, the Empress Suiko had garden built with an artificial mountain, representing Shumi-Sen, or Mount Sumeru, reputed in Hindu and Buddhist legends to be located at the center of the world. During the reign of the same Empress, one of her ministers, Soga no Umako, had a garden built at his palace featuring a lake with several small islands, representing the islands of the Eight Immortals famous in Chinese legends and the Daoist philosophy. This Palace became the property of the Japanese Emperors, was named "The Palace of the Isles", and was mentioned several times in the Man'yōshū, the "Collection of Countless Leaves", the oldest known collection of Japanese poetry.

It appears from the small amount of literary and archeological evidence available that the Japanese gardens of this time were modest versions of the Imperial gardens of the Tang Dynasty, with large lakes scattered with artificial islands and artificial mountains. While they had some Buddhist and Daoist symbolism, they were meant to be pleasure gardens, and places for festivals and celebrations. Like the Chinese Emperors and court, the Japanese aristocrats enjoyed their gardens in small boats with carved dragon heads.[9]

Gardens of the Heian period (794–1185)

Phoenix Hall in the garden of Byōdō-in, Kyoto, is a temple of the Amitābha or school of Pure Land Buddhism (1053)

In 794, at the beginning of the Heian Period, the Japanese court moved its capital to Heian-kyō (present-day Kyoto). During this period, there were three different kinds of gardens; palace gardens and the gardens of nobles in the capital; the gardens of villas at the edge of the city; and the gardens of temples.

The architecture of the palaces, residences and gardens in the Heian period followed Chinese practice. Houses and gardens were aligned on a north-south axis, with the residence to the north and the ceremonial buildings and main garden to the south, there were two long wings to the south, like the arms of an armchair, with the garden between them. The gardens featured one or more lakes connected by bridges and winding streams. The south garden of the imperial residences had a specially Japanese feature; a large empty area of white sand or gravel. The Emperor was the chief priest of Japan, and the white sand represented purity, and was a place where the gods could be invited to visit. The area was used for religious ceremonies, and dances for the welcoming of the gods.[10]

The layout of the garden itself was strictly determined according to the principles of traditional Chinese geomancy, or Feng Shui. The first known book on the art of the Japanese garden, the Sakuteiki (Records of Garden Keeping), written in the 11th century, said:

"It is a good omen to make the stream arrive from the east, to enter the garden, pass under the house, and then leave from the southeast. In this way, the water of the blue dragon will carry away all the bad spirits from the house toward the white tiger."[11]

The Imperial gardens of the Heian Period were water gardens, where visitors promenaded in elegant lacquered boats, listening to music, viewing the distant mountains, singing, reading poetry, painting, and admiring the scenery of the garden. The social life in the gardens was memorably described in the classic Japanese novel, the Tales of Genji, written in about 1005 by Murasaki Shikibu, a lady-in-waiting to the Empress. The traces of one such artificial lake, Osawa no ike, near the Daikaku-ji Temple in Kyoto, still can be seen. It was built by the Emperor Saga, who ruled from 809 to 823, and was said to be inspired by Dongting Lake in China.[12] A scaled-down replica of the Kyoto Imperial Palace of 794 AD, the Heian-jingū, was built in Kyoto in 1895 to celebrate the 1100th birthday of the city. The south garden is famous for its cherry blossoms in spring, and for azaleas in the early summer. The west garden is known for the irises in June, and the large east garden lake recalls the leisurely boating parties of the 8th century.[12] Near the end of the Heian period a new garden architecture style appeared, created by the followers of Pure Land Buddhism. These were called "Paradise Gardens," built to represent the legendary Paradise of the West, where the Amida Buddha ruled. These were built by noblemen who wanted to assert their power and independence from the Imperial household, which was growing weaker.

The best surviving example of a Paradise Garden is Byōdō-in in Uji, near Kyoto. It was originally the villa of Fujiwara Michinaga, (966-1028), who married his daughters to the sons of the Emperor. After his death, his son transformed the villa into a temple, and in 1053 built the Hall of Phoenix, which still stands. The Hall is built in the traditional style of a Chinese Song Dynasty temple, on an island in the lake. It houses a gilded statue of the Amithaba Buddha, looking to the west. In the lake in front of the temple is a small island of white stones, representing Mount Horai, the home of the Eight Immortals of the Daoists, connected to the temple by a bridge, which symbolized the way to paradise. It was designed for mediation and contemplation, not as a pleasure garden. It was a lesson in Daoist and Buddhist philosophy created with landscape and architecture, and a prototype for future Japanese gardens.[13]

Notable existing or recreated Heian gardens include:

Kamakura and Muromachi Periods (1185–1573)

Kinkaku-ji, the Golden Pavilion (1398)
The zen rock garden of Ryōan-ji (late 15th century)

The weakness of the Emperors and the rivalry of feudal warlords resulted in two civil wars (1156 and 1159), which destroyed most of Kyoto and its gardens. The capital moved to Kamakura, Kanagawa, and then in 1336 back to the Muromachi quarter of Kyoto. The Emperors ruled in name only; real power was held by a military governor, the shogun. During this period, the Government reopened relations with China, which had been broken off almost three hundred years earlier. Japanese monks went again to study in China, and Chinese monks came to Japan, fleeing the Mongol invasions. The monks brought with them a new form of Buddhism, called simply Zen, or "meditation". The first zen garden in Japan was built by a Chinese priest in 1251 in Kamakura.[15] Japan enjoyed a renaissance in religion, in the arts, and particularly in gardens.[16]

Many famous temple gardens were built early in this period, including Kinkaku-ji, The Golden Pavilion, built in 1398, and Ginkaku-ji, The Silver Pavilion, built in 1482. In some ways they followed Zen principles of spontaneity, extreme simplicity and moderation, but in other ways they were traditional Chinese Song-Dynasty Temples; the upper floors of the Golden Pavilion were covered with gold leaf, and they were surrounded by traditional water gardens.

The most notable garden style invented in this period was the zen garden, or Japanese rock garden. One of the finest examples, and one of the best-known of all Japanese gardens is Ryōan-ji in Kyoto. This garden is just 9 meters wide and 24 meters long. It is composed of white sand carefully raked to suggest water, and fifteen rocks carefully arranged, like small islands. It is meant to be seen from a seated position on the porch of the residence the abbot of the monastery. There have been many debates about what the rocks are supposed to represent, but, as garden historian Gunter Nitschke wrote, "The garden at Ryōan-ji does not symbolize. It does not have the value of representing any natural beauty that can be found in the world, real or mythical. I consider it as an abstract composition of "natural" objects in space, a composition whose function is to incite mediation."[17]

Several of the famous zen gardens of Kyoto were the work of one man; Nanzen-ji; Saihō-ji (The Moss Garden); and Tenryū-ji.

Notable gardens of the Kamakura and Muromachi Periods include:

The Momoyama Period (1568–1600)

The garden at Tokushima Castle (1592) on the island of Shikoku features water and enormous rocks. It was meant to be seen from above, from a viewing pavilion.

The Momoyama period was short, just 32 years, and was largely occupied with the wars between the daimyo, the leaders of the feudal Japanese clans. The new centers of power and culture in Japan were the fortified castles of the daimyo, around which new cities and gardens appeared. The characteristic garden of the period featured one or more ponds or lakes next to the main residence, or shoin, not far from the castle. These gardens were meant to be seen from above, from the castle or residence. The daimyos had developed the skills of cutting and lifting large rocks to build their castles, and they had armies of soldiers to move them. The artificial lakes were surrounded by beaches of small stones and decorated with arrangements of boulders, with natural stone bridges and stepping stones. The gardens of this period combined elements of a promenade garden, meant to be seen from the winding garden paths, with elements of the zen garden, such as artificial mountains, meant to be contemplated from a distance.[18]

The most famous garden of this kind, built in 1592, is situated near the Tokushima castle on the island of Shikoku. Its notable features include a bridge 10.5 meters long made of two natural stones.

Another notable garden of the period still existing is Sanbō-in, rebuilt by Toyotomi Hideyoshi in 1598 to celebrate the festival of the cherry blossom, and to recreate the splendor of an ancient garden. Three hundred garden-builders worked on the project, digging the lakes and installing seven hundred boulders in a space of 540 square meters. The garden was designed to be seen from the veranda of the main pavilion, or from the "Hall of the Pure View", located on a higher elevation in the garden.

In the east of the garden, on a peninsula, is an arrangement of stones designed to represent the mythical Mount Horai. A wooden bridge leads to an island representing a crane, and a stone bridge connects this island to another representing a tortoise. which is connected by an earth-covered bridge back to the peninsula. The garden also includes a waterfall at the foot of a wooded hill. One characteristic of the Momoyama period garden visible at Sanbō-in is the close proximity of the buildings to the water.[18]

The Momoyama Period also saw the development of the chanoyu (tea ceremony), the chashitsu (teahouse), and the roji (tea garden). Tea had been introduced to Japan from China by Buddhist monks, who used it as a stimulant to keep awake during long periods of meditation. The first great tea master, Sen no Rikyū (1522–1591), defined in the most minute detail the appearance and rules of the tea house and tea garden, following the principle of wabi (侘び) "sober refinement and calm".[19]

Following Sen no Rikyū's rules, the teahouse was supposed to suggest the cottage of a hermit-monk. It was a small and very plain wooden structure, often with a thatched roof, with just enough room inside for two tatami mats. The only decoration allowed inside a scroll with an inscription and a branch of a tree. It did not have a view of the garden.

The garden was also small, and constantly watered to be damp and green. It usually had a cherry tree or elm to bring color in the spring, but otherwise did not have bright flowers or exotic plants that would distract the attention of the visitor. A path led to the entrance of the tea house. Along the path was waiting bench for guests and a privy, and a stone water-basin near the tea house, where the guests rinsed their hands and mouths before entering the tea room through a small, square door called nijiri-guchi, or "crawling-in entrance", which requires bending low to pass through. Sen no Rikyū decreed that the garden should be left unswept for several hours before the ceremony, so that leaves would be scattered in a natural way on the path.[20]

Notable gardens of the period include:

Edo Period (1615–1867)

The garden of Katsura Imperial Villa in Kyoto (1641-1662), the prototype for the promenade, or stroll garden
The interior of the Geppa Pavilion of the Katsura Imperial Villa, perfectly integrated into the garden

During the Edo Period, power was won and consolidated by the Tokugawa clan, who became the Shoguns, and moved the capital to Edo, which became Tokyo. During this time, Japan, except for the port of Nagasaki, was virtually closed to foreigners, and Japanese were not allowed to travel to any country except China or the Netherlands. The Emperor remained in Kyoto as a figurehead leader, with authority only over cultural and religious affairs. While the political center of Japan was now Tokyo, Kyoto remained the cultural capital, the center for religion and art. The Shoguns provided the Emperors with little power, but with generous subsidies for building gardens.[21]

The Edo period saw the widespread use of a new kind of Japanese architecture, called Sukiya-zukuri, which means literally "building according to chosen taste". The term first appeared at the end of the 16th century referring to isolated tea houses. It originally applied to the simple country houses of samurai warriors and Buddhist monks, but in the Edo period it was used in every kind of building, from houses to palaces.

The Sukiya style was used in the most famous garden of the period, the Katsura Imperial Villa in Kyoto. The buildings were built in a very simple, undecorated style, a prototype for future Japanese architecture. They opened up onto the garden, so that the garden seemed entirely part of the building. Whether the visitor was inside or outside of the building, he always had a feeling he was in the center of nature. The garden buildings were arranged so that were always seen from a diagonal, rather than straight on. This arrangement had the poetic name ganko, which meant literally "a formation of wild geese in flight."[22]

Most of the gardens of the Edo Period were either promenade gardens or dry rock zen gardens, and they were usually much larger than earlier gardens. The promenade gardens of the period made extensive use of shakkei, the borrowing of landscapes in the distance, such as mountains, and integrating them into the garden; or, even better, building the garden on the side of a mountain and using the different elevations. Edo promenade gardens were often composed of a series of meisho, or "famous views", similar to postcards. These could be imitations of famous natural landscapes, like Mount Fuji, or scenes from Taoist or Buddhist legends, or landscapes illustrating verses of poetry. Unlike zen gardens, they were designed to portray nature as it appeared, not the internal rules of nature.[23]

Meiji Period (1868–1912)

The Meiji period saw the modernization of Japan, and the re-opening of Japan to the west. Many of the old private gardens had been abandoned and left to ruin. In 1871, a new law transformed many gardens from the Momoyama and Edo periods into public parks, preserving them. Notable gardens of this period include:

Modern Japanese gardens (1912 to present)

During the Showa period (1926–1988), many traditional gardens were built by businessmen and politicians. After World War II, the principal builders of gardens were no longer private individuals, but banks, hotels, universities and government agencies. The Japanese garden became an extension of the architecture of the building. New gardens were designed by architecture school graduates, and often used modern building materials, such as concrete.

Some modern Japanese gardens, such as Tōfuku-ji, designed by Mirei Shigemori, were inspired by classical models. Other modern gardens have taken a much more radical approach to the traditions. One example is Awaji Yumebutai, a garden on the island of Awaji, in the Seto Inland Sea of Japan, designed by Tadao Ando. It was built as part of a resort and conference center on a steep slope, where land had been stripped away to make an island for an airport.

Garden elements


The ability to capture the essence of nature makes the Japanese gardens distinctive and appealing to observers. Traditional Japanese gardens are very different in style from occidental gardens. The contrast between western flower gardens and Japanese gardens is profound. "Western gardens are typically optimised for visual appeal while Japanese gardens are modelled with spiritual and philosophical ideas in mind."[24] Japanese gardens have always been conceived as a representation of a natural setting. The Japanese have always had a spiritual connection with their land and the spirits that are one with nature, which explains why they prefer to incorporate natural materials in their gardens. Traditional Japanese gardens can be categorized into three types: tsukiyama (hill gardens), karesansui (dry gardens) and chaniwa gardens (tea gardens). The main purpose of a Japanese garden is to attempt to be a space that captures the natural beauties of nature.

The small space given to create these gardens usually poses a challenge for the gardeners. Due to the absolute importance of the arrangement of natural rocks and trees, finding the right material becomes highly selective. The serenity of a Japanese landscape and the simple but deliberate structures of the Japanese gardens are what truly make the gardens unique. "The two main principles incorporated in a Japanese garden are scaled reduction and symbolization."[25]

Cascade at Nanzen-ji garden in Kyoto

Japanese gardens always have water, either a pond or stream, or, in the dry rock garden, represented by white sand. In Buddhist symbolism, water and stone are the yin and yang, two opposites that complement and complete each other. A traditional garden will usually have an irregular-shaped pond or, in larger gardens, two or more ponds connected by a channel or stream, and a cascade, a miniature version of Japan's famous mountain waterfalls.

In traditional gardens, the ponds and streams are carefully placed according to Buddhist geomancy, the art and science of putting things in the place most likely to attract good fortune. The rules for the placement of water were laid out in the first manual of Japanese gardens, the Sakuteiki, or "The Creation of Gardens", in the 11th century (see "Literature" below). According to the Sakuteiki, the water should enter the garden from the east or southeast and flow toward the west because the east is the home of the Green Dragon (seiryu) an ancient Chinese divinity adapted in Japan, and the west is the home of the White Tiger, the divinity of the east. Water flowing from east to west will carry away evil, and the owner of the garden will be healthy and have a long life. According to the Sakuteiki, another favorable arrangement is for the water to flow from north, which represents water in Buddhist cosmology, to the south, which represents fire, which are opposites (yin and yang) and therefore will bring good luck.[26]

The Sakuteiki recommends several possible miniature landscapes using lakes and streams: the "ocean style", which features rocks that appear to have been eroded by waves, a sandy beach, and pine trees; the "broad river style", recreating the course of a large river, winding like a serpent; the "marsh pond" style, a large still pond with aquatic plants; the "mountain torrent style", with many rocks and cascades; and the "rose letters" style, an austere landscape with small, low plants, gentle relief and many scattered flat rocks.

Traditional Japanese gardens have small islands in the lakes. In sacred temple gardens, there is usually an island which represents Mount Penglai or Mount Horai, the traditional home of the Eight Immortals.

The Sakuteiki describes different kinds of artificial island which can be created in lakes, including the "mountainous island", made up of jagged vertical rocks mixed with pine trees, surrounded by a sandy beach; the "rocky island", composed of "tormented" rocks appearing to have been battered by sea waves, along with small, ancient pine trees with unusual shapes; the "cloud island", made of white sand in the rounded white forms of a cumulus cloud; and the "misty island", a low island of sand, without rocks or trees.

A cascade or waterfall is an important element in Japanese gardens, a miniature version of the waterfalls of Japanese mountain streams. The Sakuteiki described seven kinds of cascades. It notes that if possible a cascade should face toward the moon and should be designed to capture the moon's reflection in the water.[27]

Rocks and sand

Rock, sand and gravel are an essential feature of the Japanese garden. A vertical rock may represent Mount Horai, the legendary home of the Eight Immortals, or Mount Sumeru of Buddhist teaching, or a carp jumping from the water. A flat rock might represent the earth. Sand or gravel can represent a beach, or a flowing river. Rocks and water also symbolize yin and yang, (in and in Japanese) in Buddhist philosophy; the hard rock and soft water complement each other, and water, though soft, can wear away rock.

Rough volcanic rocks (kasei-gan) are usually used to represent mountains or as stepping stones. Smooth and round sedimentary rocks (suisei-gan) are used around lakes or as stepping stones. Hard metamorphic rocks are usually placed by waterfalls or streams. Rocks are traditionally classified as tall vertical, low vertical, arching, reclining, or flat. Rocks should vary in size and color but from each other, but not have bright colors, which would lack subtlety. Rocks with strata or veins should have the veins all going in the same direction, and the rocks should all be firmly planted in the earth, giving an appearance of firmness and permanence. Rocks are arranged in careful compositions of two, three, five or seven rocks, with three being the most common. In a three-arrangement, a tallest rock usually represents heaven, the shortest rock is the earth, and the medium-sized rock is humanity, the bridge between heaven and earth. Sometimes one or more rocks, called suteishi, ("nameless" or "discarded") are placed in seemingly random locations in the garden, to suggest spontaneity, though their placement is carefully chosen.[28]

In ancient Japan, sand (suna) and gravel (jari) were used around Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples. Later it was used in the Japanese rock garden or Zen Buddhist gardens to represent water or clouds. White sand represented purity, but sand could also be gray, brown or bluish-black.[29]

Selection and subsequent placement of rocks was and still is a central concept in creating an aesthetically pleasing garden by the Japanese. During the Heian era, the concept of placing stones as symbolic representations of islands – whether physically existent or nonexistent – began to take hold, and can be seen in the Japanese word shima, which is of “particular importance … because the word contained the meaning ‘island’” Furthermore, the principle of kowan ni shitagau, or "obeying (or following) the request of an object", was, and still is, a guiding principle of Japanese rock design that suggests "the arrangement of rocks be dictated by their innate characteristics." The specific placement of stones in Japanese gardens to symbolically represent islands (and later to include mountains), is found to be an aesthetically pleasing property of traditional Japanese gardens. Here are some of the aesthetic principles, as stated by Thoams Heyd:

Stones, which constitute a fundamental part of Japanese gardens, are carefully selected for their weathering and are placed in such a way that they give viewers the sense that they ‘naturally’ belong where they are, and in combinations in which the viewers [sic] find them. As such, this form of gardening attempts to emblematically represent (or present) the processes and spaces found in wild nature, away from city and practical concerns of human life[30]

Rock placement is a general “aim to portray nature in its essential characteristics”[31] - the essential goal of all Japanese gardens. Furthermore,

while the cult of stones is also central to Japanese gardening … as stones were part of an aesthetic design and had to be placed so that their positions appeared natural and their relationships harmonious. The concentration of the interest on such detail as the shape of a rock or the moss on a stone lantern led at times to an overemphatic picturesqueness and accumulation of minor features that, to Western eyes accustomed to a more general survey, may seem cluttered and restless.[32]

Such attention to detail can be seen at places such as Midori Falls in Kenroku-en Garden in Kanazawa, Ishikowa Prefecture, as the rocks at the waterfall's base were changed at various times by six different daimyo.

Garden architecture

In Heian Period Japanese gardens, built in the Chinese model, buildings occupied as much or more space than the garden. The garden was designed to be seen from the main building and its verandas, or from small pavilions built for that purpose. In later gardens, the buildings were less visible. Rustic teahouses were hidden in their own little gardens, and small benches and open pavilions along the garden paths provided places for rest and contemplation. In later garden architecture, walls of houses and teahouses could be opened to provide carefully framed views of the garden. The garden and the house became one.[33]

Garden bridges

Bridges first appeared in the Japanese garden during the Heian period. At Byōdō-in garden in Kyoto, a wooden bridge connects the Phoenix pavilion with a small island of stones, representing the Mount Penglai or Mount Horai, the island home of the Eight Immortals of Daoist teaching, The bridge symbolized the path to paradise and immortality.[34]

Bridges could be made of stone (ishibashi), or of wood, or made of logs with earth on top, covered with moss (dobashi); they could be either arched (soribashi) or flat (hirabashi). Sometimes if they were part of a temple garden, they were painted red, following the Chinese tradition, but for the most part they were unpainted.[35]

During the Edo period, when large promenade gardens became popular, streams and winding paths were constructed, with a series of bridges, usually in a rustic stone or wood style, to take visitors on a tour of the scenic views of the garden.

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