Japanese garden: a spring of harmony

18 September 2017

The Japanese garden is really peaceful and in every corner you can experience the balance between theman 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.

The japanese garden, a microcosm in harmony

To understand that particular harmony that reigns during the walks in a Japanese garden, first you must knowthe 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 aimperfect 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 alreadyenough to provide a well defined point of view on the man, an approach to the garden not exactly occidental.

La Foce, Chianciano Terme
Kenrokuen Garden, Kanazawa Japan

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. 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.

Landscape evocation in the japanese garden

Starting from VI century in Japan Buddhism was declare the official religion, and due this cultural influence theChinese 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 aspace for meditation can be found.

Contemplation in famous japanese garden

The landscaper monk Muso Kokushi redesigned several noble gardens and during the Nara epoch transformed the Shotoku garden in the famous Moss Temple, one of the UNESCO World Heritage Site, and where you can findabout 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 asea of gravel, and surrounded by flat stones, which are the ideal spot to practice the Zazen, the seated meditation.


The dry garden

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


The japanese garden as ispiration

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 e cerastium around stone
Cerastium and stones in our Chianti design