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Japanese Culture
Japanese garden
Japanese garden (日本庭園, nihon teien) - Gardens in traditional Japanese style, can be found at private homes, in neighborhood or city parks, and at historical landmarks such as Buddhist temples and old castles.

Some of the Japanese gardens most famous in the West, and within Japan as well, are dry gardens or rock gardens, karesansui. The tradition of the Tea masters has produced highly refined Japanese gardens of quite another style, evoking rural simplicity. In Japanese culture, garden-making is a high art, intimately related to the linked arts of calligraphy and ink painting. Since the end of the 19th century, Japanese gardens have also been adapted to Western settings.

Of great interest for the historical development of the Japanese garden, bonseki, bonsai and related arts is the c. 1300 Zen monk Kokan Shiren and his rhymeprose essay Rhymeprose on a Miniature Landscape Garden.

The tradition of Japanese gardening was historically passed down from sensei to apprentice. In recent decades this has been supplemented by various trade schools known as senmon gakkoh. The opening words of Zōen's Illustrations for designing mountain, water and hillside field landscapes (1466) are "If you have not received the oral transmissions, you must not make gardens" and its closing admonition is "You must never show this writing to outsiders. You must keep it secret".

A catalogue of features "typical" of the Japanese garden may be drawn up without inquiring deeply into the aesthetic underlying Japanese practice. Typical Japanese gardens have at their center a home from which the garden is viewed. In addition to residential architecture, Japanese gardens often contain several of these elements:

Water, real or symbolic.
Rocks.
A lantern, typically of stone.
A teahouse or pavilion.
A enclosure device such as a hedge, fence, or wall of traditional character.
A bridge to the island, or stepping stones.

Japanese gardens might fall into one of these styles:

Kanshoh-style gardens which are viewed from a residence.
Pond gardens, for viewing from a boat.
Tea gardens, for viewing from a path which leads to a tea ceremony hut.
Strolling gardens (kaiyū-shiki), for viewing a sequence of effects from a path which circumnavigates the garden. The 17th-century Katsura garden in Kyoto is a famous exemplar.
The dry landscape style known as karesansui. These have no water and few plants, but typically evoke a feeling of water using pebbles and meticulously raked gravel or sand. Rocks chosen for their intriguing shapes and patterns, mosses, and low shrubs typify the karesansui style. The gardens at Ryōan-ji, a temple in Kyoto, and Daisen-in, created in 1513, are particularly renowned.

Other gardens also use similar rocks for decoration, some of which come from distant parts of Japan. In addition, bamboos and related plants, evergreens including Japanese black pine, and such deciduous trees as maples grow above a carpet of ferns and mosses.

Though often thought of as tranquil sanctuaries that allow individuals to escape from the stresses of daily life, Japanese gardens are designed for a variety of purposes. Some gardens invite quiet contemplation, but may have also been intended for recreation, the display of rare plant specimens, or the exhibition of unusual rocks.

Kaiyu-shiki or Strolling Gardens require the observer to walk through the garden to fully appreciate it. A premeditated path takes observers through each unique area of a Japanese garden. Uneven surfaces are placed in specific spaces to prompt people to look down at particular points. When the observer looks up, they will see an eye-catching ornamentation which is intended to enlighten and revive the spirit of the observer. This type of design is known as the Japanese landscape principle of "hide and reveal".

Stones are used to construct the garden's paths, bridges, and walkways. Stones can also represent a geological presence where actual mountains are not viewable or present. They are sometimes placed in odd numbers and a majority of the groupings reflect triangular shapes, which often are the mountains of China.

A water source in a Japanese garden should appear to be part of the natural surroundings; this is why one will not find fountains in traditional gardens. Man-made streams are built with curves and irregularities to create a serene and natural appearance. Lanterns are often placed beside some of the most prominent water basins (either a pond or a stream) in a garden. In some gardens one will find a dry pond or stream. Dry ponds and streams have as much impact as do the ones filled with water.

Green plants are another element of Japanese gardens. Japanese traditions prefer subtle green tones, but flowering trees and shrubs are also used. Many plants in imitated Japanese gardens of the West are indigenous to Japan, though some sacrifices must be made to account for the differentiating climates. Some plants, such as sugar maple and firebush, give the garden a broader palette of seasonal color.

Information source: “Japanese garden.” wikipedia.org. Article date: 4 Feb. 2008. Retrieved: Wikipedia. 12 Feb. 2008 <Japanese garden>.

Video - The following is of a Japanese Garden on the Noto Peninsula of Japan.
 
 

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