Rikugien – Garden of Waka

The word “waka” translates into “Japanese poem.” The term dates back to the Heian period (794 to 1185) when Japanese culture was being heavily influenced by Chinese traditions, such as Buddhism and Taoism. Poetry and literature were respected art forms during this period. Purists of the time came up with the word waka to describe poetry written in Japanese by Japanese artists. This was to distinguish these 31 syllable texts from the same style verse Japanese poets were writing in the Chinese language.

The Rikugien Garden in Tokyo was constructed during the Edo period (1603 to 1868). This was the time when the Tokugawa shogunate was in power and when the mistrust of outsiders was at its peak. The first shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu saw the value of foreign trade and did indeed encourage it. But he did have a fear of foreigners, their customs and religions and set about turning Japan into a closed society.

The fifth shogun of the Edo period, Tokugawa Tsunayoshi gave permission for the construction of Rikugien Garden. Built by Yanagisaw Yoshiyasu, a daimyo, or territorial lord under the shogun, construction began in 1695. The gardens were designed to emulate the original six forms of waka poetry.

The gardens opened in 1702 and originally featured 88 landscaped scenes taken from actual poems. After Yoshiyasu died in 1714, the garden was largely forgotten until 1877 when it was purchased by the founder of the Mitsubishi Corporation, Iwasaki Yataro, who revived 18 of those scenes. Today it is the property of the city of Tokyo, Japan.

Visitors pass through the Naitei-Daimon gate and are greeted by a large cherry tree, which in season sports a cascade of pink blossoms. The pathway takes you to the Deshio-no-minato, a spot on the edge of the pond that gives you an overview of the garden including the islands in the middle. The two hills on the main island represent Izanagi and Izanami, man and woman, from the myth of Japan’s ancient origins. Another smaller island, made of strategically placed stones, is called Horaijima. It represents the home of the immortals.

As you follow the pathway around the pond, artfully placed azaleas and tiny bonsai trees seem to appear out of hidden pockets. Nearing the Tsutsuji-no-chaya teahouse, you find yourself standing in a grove of maples. In fall they will be clothed in bright reds, yellows and oranges. Take a walk through the Sasakani-no-michi, a pathway lined with greenery that is so narrow it is named for a spider’s web. Cross the Togetsukyo stone bridge, built in remembrance of a romantic poem about the moon, cranes and a rice paddy.

End your visit with a traditional tea ceremony at Takimi-no-chaya, another teahouse that sits next to a stream with cascading waterfalls, bonsai trees and stone lanterns. From here you can watch the Sleeping Dragon Rock and listen to the gentle flow of the waters.

A gathering place in the land of Aloha!

The Big Island of Hawaii is probably best know for the sun washed mega resorts of the Kona Coast, its strong, rich, delectable coffee beans and of course nature’s light shows at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. But there is a hidden treasure on the island’s more laid back eastern coast.

The islands largest town, Hilo, is home to the Lili’uokalani Gardens, the largest ornamental Japanese park outside of Japan.  Named for Hawaii’s last Queen and dedicated to Japanese immigrants who worked on the sugar plantations, this thirty acre sea level park is well loved by the locals and admired by visitors who are lucky enough to find it.

This is very much a people’s park. The park is open daily and there are no gates so entry can be made from any direction. The gardens frame the shores of Hilo Bay, facing the east and are perfect for watching the sun rise over the Pacific Ocean.  Locals and visitors from the hotels on Banyan drive often head to the park in the early hours to walk or jog as the sun comes up.  Just before dawn, local fishermen will toss their nets in the ocean on the bay side of the park, or even in some of the native Hawaiian style fish ponds that have been incorporated into the garden’s design.

As the day progresses, families come out to picnic on the wide expanse of lawns.  Fathers and sons play catch, tourists sunbathe and bamboo fishing poles cast their lines into those same gently curved fish ponds.  Some of these ponds are open to the open ocean so at high tide paths leading to them tend to be water soaked.  Not a problem, just wear some “rubbah slippahs” or better yet, go barefoot.

A Japanese rock garden in the dry Karesausui style is a recent addition. Half moon bridges, small pagodas, gazebos and Tori gates greet visitors as they follow the meandering pathways. Stone lanterns and bonsai trees share space with native palms, banyan and banana trees along with fragrant hibiscus and ginger blossoms.  Ocean birds visit the ponds for a quick snack, mongoose play hide and seed among the rocks and trees and the mynah birds are very vocal in letting you know they are out and about.

The Big Island of Hawaii shares Sister Island Status with Oshima, Japan and the reverence for that culture is evident. Tea ceremonies are held in a traditional Japanese Tea House named Shoroan.  It was donated by the Fifteenth Grand Tea Master of Urasenke and may be booked for special events.  The gardens also include a sumo platform and a shelter for Okinawan style canoes. Special Okinawan race days are held at the ocean side of the park fronting Hilo Bay.

Hilo is very much a sleepy island town that rolls up its sidewalks in the early evening. Most people that visit Hilo drop by on the way to or from the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. A few stay a night or two and discover the warmth of this charming area.  The very lucky ones put on their slippahs and find their way to the Queen Lili’uokalani Gardens at sunrise. Perhaps they might even go local and cast their own fishing line in a garden pond as they watch the waters of Hilo Bay shimmer with the colors of morning.

Orchids and Japanese Gardening

orchid_gardenCombining the Traditional Japanese Garden with Tropical Plants creates a beautiful retreat. Japanese gardens are elegant, deceivingly simplistic and aesthetically pleasing. The subtle shifts in colour and form tend to calm the spirit, taking us away from the busy pace of the modern world. This can even be at a subliminal level. Your mind’s eye may know the garden has placed a gossamer veil of peace around your psyche, but your body may take a while to catch on.

But it will. Spend time among the carefully placed rocks covered with velvety textured mosses, quiet ponds filled with koi fish or even next to an imaginary river made of seemingly flowing pebbles and yes, your body will eventually get the message.

It is not surprising that those who have the skill, patience and creativity to create a Japanese garden would use those same skills to nurture delicately scented orchids. Nor is it a surprise that the fragrant orchid and Japanese garden design elements can be elegantly wed.

Morikami Park, in Palm Beach County, Florida, is home to a Japanese garden with a tropical twist. Named after George Sukeji Morikami, who immigrated to the United States in 1906, the 200 acre property has expanded from a small, traditional Japanese garden and pavilion to a garden setting with almost a mile of pathways.

It has the traditional bamboo stands and tiny islands connected by zigzag bridges, as well as a “Contemplation Pavilion” that urges guests to just relax and enjoy their surroundings. The twist in this garden is that some of the traditional plants have been replaced by tropical ones, including orchids.

Instead of Japanese maples, which won’t grow in Florida, black olive trees were pruned and shaped to mimic this garden staple. Strawberry guava trees and slash pine were also trimmed to show off their elegantly shaped trunks and limbs. Fig trees form a wall, blocking out the sounds and sights of neighbouring homes.

The creator of this marriage of Florida plants and classic Japanese design is Hoichi Kurisu. Ever mindful of long held traditions, he has created a bolder, brighter colour palette that is more in sync with its tropic locale.

Adjacent to Morikami Park is a recently purchased parcel with a large greenhouse maintained by the American Orchid Society. Inside is a 15 foot high waterfall, its tiered layers covered with orchids of every colour and shape. Outside is a three and a half acre formal garden that is home to over 3,000 orchids that are growing in trees, among perennials and shrubs that line the pathways and alongside tranquil ponds.

In the wild, orchids attach themselves to tree branches in the forest canopy. They are epiphytes, getting their nutrients from the air. In this garden, orchids have been attached to the trees using wire and liquid nails. This means that you not only have beauty at your feet, but are greeted with an array of colour and hints of fragrance from above.

How small can a Bonsai get!

It is true that Bonsai are miniaturised versions of the wild things that can be found on the edge of famous lakes and gardens or seen hanging off the edge of cliffs. But did you know that Bonsai too have their miniature versions!

These Bonsai are commonly known as Shohin and Mame.

Shohin is a Japanese word that means ‘tiny thing’ and in Bonsai this means that the tree has to be within a certain size to qualify as a Shohin. So the rule is that the tiny-thing must be 35 cm wide and 21 cm high.

Mame are another thing. These can be between 10 to 15 cm. These are also called ‘mini-bonsai’.

Some Bonsai classifications:

  • Up to 2.5 cm high: Keishi
  • Up to 7.5 cm high: Shito
  • Up to 15 cm high: Mame
  • Up to 40 cm high: Kifu Sho
  • Up to 60 cm high: Chu
  • Up to 100 cm high: Dai

Creating Mame Bonsai

Creating Mame is a very difficult task. It’s challenging enough training a normal Bonsai tree, but these Mame are incredibly small.

One of the most important aspect of growing Mame or any Bonsai is to understand your tree and its growing habits.

Selecting the right species for your small bonsai adventure is very crucial to its success. Ideally you should go for a plant with naturally small leaves; this will make it easier to train the bonsai as it grows. Due to their extremely small size it would be very difficult to trim the leaves and roots, you could use a magnifying glass to help you whilst carrying out these activities on your plant. Best plants to use, are the Chinese Elm or Cotoneaster. These have naturally small leaves and would be best to start off with.

Another important aspect of growing your Mame is choosing the right kind of pot. You would need to get an equally small pot to give your bonsai the effect of miniaturisation. Watering such small bonsai is a difficult task. You could easily over water these plants, as the pot sizes are small and it becomes difficult to gauge the exact amount of water required by the plants. To create a moist atmosphere for your tree, keep the pot buried in damp sand, only to bring out for presentations.  However your Mame cannot completely do without water.

Considering the fact that Mame Bonsai do not have a lot of growth to support, fertilizers should be used less than you would use with normal Bonsai. It’s probably best practise to dilute your fertilizers.

Since the size of the pot is small, the amount of soil is also very less. As a result of this the soil looses its fertility very early. Hence you must repot the Mame more frequently than you do repotting for normal bonsai trees. The average repot time for normal bonsai is every two years. See Repotting Bonsai.

For more information on Shohin Bonsai, check out Shohin Bonsai Europe.

Karesansui Gardens

In romantic love and even Bonsai love, we seek to find the hidden magic behind the power of physical love. In a Karesansui Japanese garden, we are asked to imagine water that is not there and islands that exist only as a stone placed within a bed of sand. In seeking both visions, we are asked to see beyond what our eyes tell us. We are being asked to seek from within.

The Karesansui style of Japanese garden first appeared in the Muromachi period (1392 to 1568). Influenced by Zen Buddhism, and much favoured as a meditation retreat, this garden style creates entire landscapes by using sand, moss, rocks, smaller stones and small plants. Sand is raked to simulate water movement. Rocks are placed in the middle of the sand pond to represent islands. Moss covered rocks surrounding the pond become gently rolling hills, and the tiny trees create miniature forests. Not a drop of water in sight, yet we delight in the search for it.

The Karesansui garden is an abstract which can have many interpretations. That is the intent. Just as no two people experience love in the same way, no two people will meditate at a Karesansui garden and come away with the same impression. What looks like a mountain in a tranquil lake to some may look like a ragged cliff with wind driven ocean waves to another. Love to one person might feel like a gentle breeze, to another like a raging storm.

The Tsukiyama style of Japanese garden that gained favour in the Edo period (1603 to 1867), takes a slightly different approach. Rather than a search for meaning in an abstract form, a Tsukiyama style garden presents an accurate representation of the natural world. Real water flows in streams crossed by curved bridges or cascades from waterfalls into quiet ponds. Koi fish brighten the ponds with their gold and calico colours. In larger gardens pathways lead you from one display feature to another. In smaller affairs, a vantage point has been created so the garden can be viewed from the best angle.

The Karesansui garden encourages us to search for our spiritual interpretation of love. Just as the sand ponds never change unless we take the rake and alter the waves, this intangible part of love does not change unless it is of our doing. The Tsukiyama garden lets us reflect on the beauty of love that can be touched. This is the tangible part of love, affected by the passage of time, just as the gardens change with the passing of the seasons.

the heart takes notice
of inner beauty enhanced
by timeless wisdom

M. Rose 2010

The Haiku and the Japanese Garden

misho journeyPrecise in structure yet allowing artistic creativity, the haiku is a form of Japanese poetry that can well be compared to the meticulously designed gardens that prove inspirational to those who craft using the power of the pen. This poetic art form goes back to 17th century Japan and the trick is to convey meaning within seventeen syllables in a precise five-seven-five format. Traditionally, haiku was used to express views and impressions of the natural world.

Matsuo Basho, whose birth name was Matsuo Kinsaku (1644 to 1694) one of the most recognized poets of Japan’s Edo period, is credited with fine tuning the “hokku” format. A hokku was an opening verse that introduced the “haikai no renga”, a form of collaborative poetry popular at the time. It wasn’t until the late 19th century, long after Basho’s death, that the word hokku was changed to haiku and the format became a standardized, stand alone art form.

Just as the haiku uses discipline for creating beauty, so does the Japanese garden. The Karesansui, or dry landscape style of garden is perhaps the best comparison. These gardens were influenced by followers of Zen Buddhism, who found the simplistic design conducive to meditation. One well known example of this garden style is in the Daisen-in sub-temple, part of the Daitoku-ji grounds in Kyoto, Japan. It was completed in 1513.

Much like a haiku, where the words on paper need to be studied to get the full meaning, these dry landscape gardens must be studied to interpret what the designer intended. In a Karesansui garden you must use your imagination to see that carefully raked gravel or sand as a tranquil pond. You must imagine that those rocks strategically placed in that pond are islands. The beauty of the garden and the haiku is this is that no two people will have the same vision, the same interpretation.

In Basho’s poem “Temple Bells Die Out” shown below, the poet describes dusk experienced by someone relaxing in a Japanese garden. The chiming of the bells is man made. The fragrance of the flowers is nature personified. The contrast, much as that found between carefully constructed pathways and the timeless sound of water cascading into a pond, both features of Japanese gardens, make for “a perfect evening.”

words upon a page
pathways through tended gardens
lead to inner peace

M. Rose 2010

temple bells die out
the fragrant blossoms remain
a perfect evening

Matsuo Basho (written between 1686 and 1691)

The Chinese Venice of Suzhou

chinese-templesSuzhou is one of the most beautiful cities of China. Its the motherland of silk and one of the oldest traditional forms of Chinese opera – Kunqu, listed as one of the Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity (UNESCO).

The city is located in the south of the province of Jiangsu and enjoys mild climate and beautiful nature. Marco Polo called Suzhou, this city of canals and gardens 85 km west of Shanghai, the “eastern Venice”. One Chinese proverb even says “There is heaven in the sky, and Suzhou on earth”. Its gardens appeared 2500 years ago and are still the best place to come to and enjoy the world as it is seen by Chinese poets, artists and men of wisdom. But for this they have to arrive there in advance, before crowds of people deprive the gardens of their calm charm. The city had about 250 gardens during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). Nowadays there are about a hudred of them left, and only a few are opened for visitors.

Far from a distance the city impresses with its magnificent walls and gates, its ancient pagoda produces a fantastic impression as well. In the old times Suzhou was renowned as “the land of fish and rice”, and this patriarchal appearance is still characteristic for the city. The hubbub and laugh produced by local people is a typical Chinese “song”. There are several attractions not to be missed while staying in Suzhou.

Blue Wave Pavilion (Canglang Ting) is the only garden part of which is not fenced. Moreover, this is the oldest garden in Suzhou. It is filled with the atmosphere of wilderness, decorated with stone hillocks, artificial mounds and bamboo groves. The name of the garden derives from the name of the pavilion built here in 1044.

Humble Administrator’s Garden (Zhuozheng Yuan) is one of the largest and the most beautiful Chinese gardens. Its a magnificent ensemble, with water as its focus: the areas next to its ponds are covered with ornaments of summerhouses and pavilions, the ponds themselves are covered with islets, which can be reached by refined bridges and narrow stone dykes.

Lingering Garden (Liu Yuan) is dominated with a high rock, pavilions are rather big, and its main landmarks are the Yuanyang (mandarin duck) Hall and the luxurious Wufengxian Hall. The garden’s attractions are connected with a corridor 700 meters long. Hundreds of windows with patterned guards are overlooking the rocks, plants and water.

Master of the Nets Garden (Wang Shi Yuan) is Suzhou’s smallest garden. However, its small size is compensated with its elegant layout, which set a good example for other Chinese gardens. Names like the Hall of Captured Grace will help you get inspired with the atmosphere of calm contemplation which former owners created here. In summertime the garden is opened till late. It is illuminated with lanterns while musicians and dancers entertain visitors.

The nine-storied North Temple Pagoda (Beisi) was built in the end of the X century, then reconstructed several times. Visit the pagoda for unforgettable views over the city suburbs. Another city landmark – the leaning Yunyan Pagoda – can be found on the Tiger Hill (Huqiu). It is in fact taller than the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

Xuanmiao Guan, or the “Temple of Mystery” is thought to be one of the best local Taoist temples. Built in 276 AD, it was later demolished and rebuilt again. And, finally, a spot not to be missed is the Suzhou Market street, covered with restaurants, shops, stalls, theatres, snack bars, silk stores and confectioner’s.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Tatyana_Kogut

Free Bonsai Classifieds


A new Free Bonsai Classified Ads web site was launched at the weekend. Bonsai Bazaar will give you the opportunity to create your own Bazaar for selling or exchanging anything Bonsai.

Packed with great features you will be able to setup and manage your own ‘Bazaar’. Sell those unwanted Pots and acessories. Want to swap a tree for a Yamadori? Anything related to Bonsai is allowed…

Take a look at the list of features:

  • Register and create your own ad listings.
  • Ad Editing – You can edit/pause your ads from within your dashboard.
  • Create comments – Give and receive feedback on posted listings.
  • Image Uploading – Multiple images can be attached directly to your ad.
  • Seller Contact Form – Visitors can easily contact you right from your listing. (Emails are sent from BonsaiBazaars email engine).
  • Receive notification of someone who is interested in your product.
  • Create a featured showcase Ad for the front page. €10 for 60 days to give maximum exposure.
  • RSS Feed – Visitors can subscribe to the rss feed from any feed reader and instantly see your latest classified ads.
  • Email and Print – You can now easily have your visitors print and/or email classified ads by clicking a link!
  • Tags – Each classified ad supports multiple native tagging for improved organization and searching.
  • Ad Visitor Counter – Shows how many daily and all-time visitors on each specific classified ad.
  • Member Profile Page – You can update your own info, change your password, upload a picture, and much more. Anyone viewing an ad can click on the authors name to see your profile page. (We use email cloaking software to protect your email address from spammers)
  • Google Maps – See exactly where each ad listing is physically located. This feature utilizes the Google Maps so each ad will show a map of the item location. Accurate down to the street name.
  • Social Media Marketing – All ads are posted to Facebook, Twitter, Reddit and over 20 other social media sites to maximize the reach of your ad.
  • Embed Video – Include videos in your Bonsai classified ads. Supports YouTube, Google Video, MetaCafe, Vimeo or any site that provides “embed” code.

These are just a few of the features available, more will be added in the near future.

  • Bonsai Bazaar America. (July 2010)
  • Spanish version of Bonsai Bazaar (July 2010)
  • Event management
  • Bonsai artists profiles
  • Practical bonsai blog

Check out the Getting Started Guides and videos on ‘Bonsai Bazaar‘.