Japanese Gardens Design like Chinese Garden Design has a great spiritual influence. Unlike the Chinese Gardens, they are more simple and sparsely designed whilst still using rock-piles, water, pagoda structures and domestic courtyards.
Shinto, the traditional religion of Japan along with the introduction of Buddhism and their belief in a powerful sense of gods and spirits in nature, is reflected in Japanese Garden Design. The Buddhist approach is to make a symbolic re-recreation of an ideal landscape whilst helping man to meditate and take the road to spiritual awakening.
Japanese Garden Styles are driven by concepts, such as closeness with nature is the essence of life.
The principles behind Japanese Gardens must suit the site, not vice versa. The placing of stones comes first, then the trees, then the shrubs. Nature is the ideal that you must strive for and never create something that nature itself cannot.
There are several styles including;
Hill and Pond fronts a hill (or hills) and the pond can be an actual pond or represented by raked gravel. This style always denotes a mountain area and usually uses plants indigenous to the mountains. Stroll gardens (always hill and pond) are large gardens that are a reproduction of an existing landscape, many of which are now public parks.
Flat Garden style stems from the use of open, flat spaces in front of temples and palaces used for contemplation. These tend to be more of a Zen Buddhist style and are representative of a seashore area. Courtyards are always flat style gardens.
Tea Gardens are practical and include buildings and furniture to facilitate elaborate tea ceremonies. Pathways will always twist and turn as devils are thought to walk in straight lines. There may be stone lanterns, but otherwise features are sparse. Most of the time they are small enclosed gardens.
Zen Gardens consist of rocks and gravel, and like all Japanese gardens it focuses on the perception of balance. Tall stones must have a low companion, whilst water must be balanced by rocks. This theme is repeated in every element of a Zen garden.
Waterless Rock and sand garden is influenced strongly by the Zen-Buddhist doctrine. The basic stones are the tall vertical stone, the low vertical stone, the arched stone, the reclining stone, and the horizontal stone. These stones are often set in triads.
Courtyard Gardens have similar elements of a tea garden but more shade tolerant plants are used and are set in more contemporary small spaces on roofs or terraces with obvious differences from a Japanese rock garden.
Paradise Garden always contains water (or representations of water) and stones. Japanese gardens are traditionally minimal in colour, so flowering plants are used sparingly.
Layouts may include;
Structures may include a;
Water, widely used, may have a bridge that crosses over denoting a journey symbolic of moving from one world into another. Japanese water basins, called a deer chaser, are a hollow bamboo stick that fills with water and hits the basin making a slight noise. Koi in the pond is also a common feature.
Plantings amongst the stones include trees, shrubs, and perennials which help to display the passing of each season. Tradition has limited the list of plants used as it is in bad taste to use showy exotic plants.
Widely used plants include;
Ornaments are used as architectural accents. This is only done when it complements the overall design, with the use of stone and rock formations as a preference. Although ornaments tend to be kept to a minimum, lanterns are often used and come in three basic styles;
Bridges especially make time for one to contemplate their journey through the garden, and so through life. Bridges, like paths, represent your spiritual journey, reflective places where one can consider ones' position in relation to nature.
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