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Japanese garden: a spring of harmony

Saihouji-kokedera giardino giapponese

The Japanese garden is really peaceful and in every corner you can experience the balance between the man and the nature. How come?

Who makes a distinction between the garden and the asceticism, it cannot be said that he found the way.

From “Dialogues in the dream”, Kokushi Muso, monk and landscaper.


To understand that particular harmony that reigns during the walks in a Japanese garden, first you must know the religious matrix that permeates the culture of Japan. The native Japanese religion, Shintoism (from Shinto, “the way of goods”) contemplates a deep reverence for nature and natural phenomena. The world isn’t a imperfect reflection of a divine reality, but it represent the definitive divine reality. The universe is harmony, the men is good, wealth and work are good; basically, the paradise is here and now. Those concepts are already enough to provide a well defined point of view on the man, an approach to the garden not exactly occidental.

In the italian garden the man dominates the nature, and a rigid schematism defines different sectors. The garden is a background for the dominion of man.

foce italian garden chianciano topiary

La Foce italian garden in Chianciano

In the Japanese garden the man blends with the nature, and harmonize himself with it. The plants are induces to follow their natural growth and even when subjected to topiary art, like for karikomi, they look natural.

Kenrokuen_Garden_Kanazawa Japan japanese garden

Kenrokuen Garden, Kanazawa Japan


Starting from VI century in Japan Buddhism was declare the official religion, and due this cultural influence the Chinese style was adopted also in Japan, both in architecture and in gardens. The landscape enters in the garden trough miniatured natural elements, lakes with winding banks, rock compositions. As time passes, emerges the need for a zen garden, a place of tranquility, an haven defended agains the difficulties of life, where a space for meditation can be found.

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The landscaper monk Muso Kokushi redesigned several noble gardens and during the Nara epoch transformed the Shotoku harden in the famous Moss Temple, one of the UNESCO World Heritage Site, and where you can find about hundred different kind of moss. In the garden temple, among the moss carpet and the trees around a pond, the shape of a dry waterfall reminds the water, with its rocks disposed in a way that simulates islands in a sea of gravel, and surrounded by flat stones, which are the ideal spot to practice the Zazen, the seated meditation.

daisen-in japanese garden



The idea behind dry waterfalls (to recall the water trough rocks), is more developed in the dry gardens (the so-called “karensansui”). In those japanese gardens, gravel was shaped in weaves using a special kind of rake, and the simple act of maintaining them already means meditating. Some famous dry garden in the XVI century, situated in Kyoto, are Daisen-in, Ryogen-in, and finally the Ryoan-ji, probably the most meditative and evocative with the landscape reduced to its minimalistic essence. Inside the Daisen-in, the evocative suggestion of water reaches sublime levels thanks to the skillful use of rake on the gravel to turn it into sinuous forms. Thanks to the technique of the “concentrated view”, stones and plants (dwarf pines and camellias) are expertly positioned in such a way that recreates, as miniature landscape, a stream flowing between the mountains.

Kyoto-Ryoan-ji japanese garden



We’re fascinated by Eastern philosophy and in the Japanese Garden we find inspirations for our design. The use of combed gravel may be a good example of evocation of water even in a western garden.. Water management can sometimes be complicated, especially for maintenance, and the use of the gravel can be a great ploy. Even using plants according to a “Japanese” style can be a great way to give naturalness to a garden.. This does not change the design work, it just makes possible to create a design where the plants look like they have always been there, around that stone, as in the stones placed around the pool in our landscaping project in Chianti.

erigeron cerastium stone japanese garden

Erigeron e cerastium around stone

erigeron karviskianus cerastium tomentosum garden japanese stone

Cerastium and stones in our Chianti design

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