Category Archives: Japanese Gardening

Japanese poets in the garden

For centuries Japanese poets have been influenced by the beauty, magnitude and mysterious quality of gardens from their country. Their is an evocative yet subtle quality to Japanese gardens, that are usually depicted in an ideal landscape with a very stylized aesthetic and a precise perspective. Both in terms of the form and beauty, one can see the influence of these gardens on poets from Japan.

In general, nature has been a profound influence on Japanese poetry. Particularly, the rich and delicate landscape of Japan mixed with their ever changing climate. However, in a Japanese garden, nature is depicted in a highly stylized way without the intention of being artificial. On the contrary, a Japanese garden is supposed to appear real and an authentic landscape, as if it has grown there, organically on its own. The Zen monk, Kokan Shiren wrote about Japanese gardens. Most of Shiren’s writing depicted the connection and relationship man had with nature and the landscape. Further, Shiren was interested in how the garden could actually purify or cleanse the senses and soul of a man. So, in this sense, the effect the garden produced on this poet was of a spiritual quality which evokes a more imaginative and mysterious quality of influence.

One form of poetry that has been linked to the work of gardens is Haiku. Haiku’s specific structural form and precise historical context makes it an easy target for comparison with the Japanese garden. Many Japanese poets have used the influence of Japanese gardens within the realm of the poetic form of the Haiku.┬áThe 20th Century Japanese Haiku poet, Shuoshi Mizuhara was preoccupied with gardens and their effects to man. It is obvious how much Japanese gardens played a role in the poetical works of the past few centuries. Like sculpture or painting, Japanese gardens became a type of natural artwork that become an influential source of inspiration for many poets, architects, musicians, and teachers.

Japanese gardens not only influenced the poets of Japan but poets from other countries as well. The influence was international and widespread. It has also dominated in the works of architecture and other art forms both in Western and Asian cultures. Above all, Japanese garden making is a tradition built on centuries of knowledge and wisdom that has been passed down from generation to generation, very much like Japanese poetry.



Japanese Stroll Garden, a silent place!

Imagine gliding across bamboo, around the centerpiece of a water fountain, surrounded by classical greenery, evergreens and symbolic stones, being embraced by Japan to find two bamboo seating chairs on either side of a center table holding the ever patience bonsai tree, all in the back garden. This is the stroll garden.

There are several different garden types from flat gardens to hill gardens; all of which are achievable by anyone with the desire to produce a quiet stillness, as well as an appreciation for nature. The design and existence of gardens has been a very important art in Japan for centuries. The stroll garden was developed between the 17th and 19th century, after the medieval period, due to the lack of travel. This garden has a specific purpose, the path is the importance. The path in the stroll garden has symbolic references and memories of destinations. This creates the desired transportation to those far away places. This garden succeeds at a rare accomplishment, getting away without leaving.

In earlier gardens, with artificial hills and ornaments, were dictated by belief of myth and legend. Between 1185-1392, the Kamakura period, the Zen Buddhist priests developed the gardens for meditation. Though royal gardens did flourish again, seemingly as a result of Zen gardens, the newly vivacious gardens consisted of waterfalls, hills and a variety of plants, while the tea garden still adheres to meditative qualities rather than decorative. Close attention to symbolic features and the arrangement of elements is necessary.

Creating a Japanese garden can be an inspiration. Gratification is awaiting you at the conclusion of the garden’s uprising, beyond the serenity that is created, the patience that is taught, the perseverance that is achieved… there is an invitation of peace. Remembering this is not an English garden, it is not to be extravagant and overwhelming. The garden is simple and natural and invokes the spirit of the surroundings. The ultimate objective to a Japanese garden is to solicit harmony and pursue peace.