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Basic rules in the design of Japanese gardens
Elements of Japanese Garden
Types of Japanese Gardens
The art of gardening is believed to be an important part of
Japanese culture for many centuries.
The garden design in Japan is strongly connected to the
philosophy and religion of the country.
Shinto, Buddhism and Taoism were used in the creation of
different garden styles in order to bring a spiritual sense to
the gardens and make them places where people could
spend their time in a peaceful way and meditate.
• The line between garden and
its surrounding landscape is
• Gardens incorporate natural
and artificial elements and
thus, fuse the elements of
nature and architecture.
• In the Japanese garden, the
viewer should consider nature
as a picture frame into which
the garden, or the man- made
work of art, is inserted.
Nature is the ideal that you must strive for. You can idealize it,
even symbolize it, but you must never create something that
nature itself cannot.
Balance, or sumi. The proportions and spaces are an essential
The “emptiness” of portions of the garden. This space, or ma,
defines the elements around it, and is also defined by the
elements surrounding it. It is the true spirit of yin and yang.
Without nothing, you cannot have something. It is a central tenet
of Japanese gardening.
Hill and pond and flat styles can be shin (formal), gyo
(intermediate) or so (informal).
Formal styles were most often found at temples or palaces,
the intermediate styles were appropriate for most
the informal style was relegated to peasant huts and
mountain retreats. The tea garden is always in the informal
The concept of wabi and sabi:
Wabi can denote something one-of-a-kind, or the spirit of something.
Sabi defines time or the ideal image of something. While a cement
lantern may be one of a kind, it lacks that ideal image. A rock can be
old and covered with lichens, but if it is just a round boulder it has no
wabi. We must strive to find that balance
Both the concepts of ma and wabi/sabi deal with time and space.
Where the garden is our space, time is ably presented by the
changing seasons. Unlike the western gardener the Japanese
garden devotee visits and appreciates the garden in all the
In spring one revels in the bright green of new buds and the
blossoms of the azaleas.
In summer you appreciate the contrasts of the lush foliage painted
against the cool shadows and the splash of koi in the pond.
Fall wrests the brilliant colors from dying leaves as they slip into the
deathly hush of winter, the garden buried under a shroud of snow.
Winters is as much a garden season in Japan as spring. The
Japanese refer to snow piled on the branches of trees as sekku, or
snow blossoms, and there is a lantern known as yukimi that is
named the snow viewing lantern.
The fence is a tool to enhance the concept of miegakure, or hide
Many of the fence styles offer only the merest of visual screens, and
will be supplemented with a screen planting, offering just the
ghostly hints of the garden behind. Sometimes a designer will cut a
small window in a solid wall to present the passerby with a
tantalizing glimpse of what lies beyond.
Even if we enter the house to view the garden we may well
encounter sode-gaki, or sleeve fences. This is a fence that attaches
to an architectural structure, be it a house or another fence, to
screen a specific view. To view the garden as a whole one must
enter it and become one with the garden. This is the final step in the
true appreciation of the garden, to lose oneself in it until time and
self have no meaning.
Natural: that should make the garden look as if it grew by itself
Asymmetry: that creates the impression of it being natural
Odd numbers: It supports the effect of the asymmetry
Simplicity: that follows the idea of 'less is more'
Triangle: that is the most common shape for compositions made
of stones, plants, etc.
Contrast: that creates tension between elements
Lines: that can create both tranquility and tension
Curves: that softens the effect
Openness: that indicates interaction between all elements
a stone lantern representing four natural elements: earth,
water, fire and wind
statues of male and female lions, placed at the entrance of the
garden in order to protect the garden from intruders,
representing the two opposite forces: yin and yang (fire and
water, male and female).
water basin known as a deer chaser, which keep deer away by
making a special sound when filled up
the koi fish swimming in ponds, which has a decorative meaning
typical Japanese bridge, called a moonbridge, whose purpose is
to reflect artistic feelings.
• Ponds, waterfalls, wells,
bridges (real or symbolic)
• Stepping stones, Garden
• Stone water basins, stone
• Garden plants and trees
• Fences and walls
•It represents the sea, lake, pond
or river in nature.
•Non geometrical in appearance;
in order to preserve the natural
shapes, man- made ponds are
• The bank of the pond is usually
bordered by stones
•A fountain is sometimes found at
the bottom of a hill or hillside or
•Wells are sometimes found in a
• Usually used in tea gardens.
• flat stepping stones served to
preserve the grass as well as
orient the viewer to a specific
• step- stones are found near
the veranda or entrance of the
house or tea room. The visitor
of the house or room is
expected to place his shoes on
the step- stone before
• Two kinds of stone water basins-
kazari- chozubachi, which is kept
near the verandah
tsukubai for tea garden
• Stone lanterns are placed besides
prominent water basins whose
luminance underscored the
unfinished beauty of the tea
• Garden of the 10th to 12th centuries
contained cherry, plum trees, pines
• Influence of the Zen sect and
watercolor painting from Southern
China transformed the colorful
Japanese garden in the Middle Ages.
• Flowers, flowering plants and shrubs
were regarded as signs of frivolity and
were replaced by evergreen trees that
• Japanese garden is predominately green with
its use of evergreen trees.
• When flowering trees found in Japanese
garden are camelias, specifically the tsubaki
Scientific Name: Abies Firma
Height: 40’ to 70’
Leaf: 1.5" dark green needles are notched at
base; sharp prickly point
Flower/Fruit: 3.5 to 5" brown cones
Scientific Name: Acer
Growth Rate: Moderate
Site Requirements: Sun to
partial shade; prefers moist,
well drained soil
Form: Round head; low
Height: 30 to 35’
Flower/Fruit: Greenish white
flowers on 2.5 to 4" pendulous
raceme; attractive samara in
Scientific Name: Acer palmatum
Growth Rate: Slow to moderate
Site Requirements: Light dappled
shade; evenly moist, well drained soil;
protect from drying winds
Texture: Medium to fine
Form: Low; dense rounded top;
spreading branches; assumes a layered
Height: 15 to 25'
Flower/Fruit: Small red to purple
flowers; attractive if viewed closely but
insignificant from a distance
Scientific Name: Alnus japonica
Site Requirements: Sun to partial
shade; range of soil types
including wet and infertile soil
Form: Slender, narrow upright
Height: 12 to 25’
Leaf: Oval, narrow leaves
Flower/Fruit: Yellow brown to red
brown catkins (male flowers);
female flowers on short purplish
brown strobili which persist until
Scientific Name: Aralia elata
Growth Rate: Rapid
Site Requirements: Sun to
partial shade; range of soil types
but prefers moist, well drained
Form: Irregular to spreading;
Height: 20 to 40’
Leaf: 3 to 5.5" compound leaves;
yellow to reddish purple fall
Flower/Fruit: 12 to 18" white
flowers in August; purple fruit
Growth Rate: Moderate
Site Requirements: Sun; moist well drained
Height: 20 to 25'
Leaf: 2 to 4" alternate, simple leaves; yellow
Flower/Fruit: Nonshowy flowers
Scientific Name: Carpinus
Growth Rate: Slow
Site Requirements: Sun to light
shade; moist well drained soil
but tolerates a range of soil
Form: Rounded; densely
branched; wide spreading
Height: 20 to 30'
Leaf: 2 to 4.5" leaves; yellow to
nonshowy fall color
Flower/Fruit: 2 to 2.5" fruit
Growth Rate: Moderate
Site Requirements: Sun to partial
shade; range of soil types
Form: Picturesque; multi-stemmed ;
low branches; oval to round habit
Height: 15 to 25'
Leaf: 4" opposite, simple leaves;
purple fall color
Flower/Fruit: Cluster of short stalked
yellow flowers with drooping bracts
on naked stems in early spring; .5"
shiny red fruit in clusters in fall
Scientific Name: Cryptomeria japonica
Growth Rate: Moderate
Site Requirements: Sun to light, high
shade; rich deep, well drained soil but will
thrive in a range of soil types
Texture: Fine to medium
Form: Pyramidal; semiformal
Height: 50 to 60'
Leaf: Awl shaped, bright to blue-green
foliage; smooth to the touch; bronze tones
in winter, especially if exposed to wind.
Flower/Fruit: Small terminal cones
• There are three types of fences:
the short fence which extends from
the house into the garden
an inner fence and an outer fence.
• Short fences or sodegaki are
screens that hide unwanted views or
• They are about 6 or 7 feet high.
• Add color and texture to the garden.
• Materials used are bamboo, wood
and twigs of bamboo or tree.
For the garden to be a true retreat, we must first seal it away from
the outside world. Once it is enclosed, we must create a method
(and a mindset) to enter and leave our microcosm. Fences and
gates are as important to the Japanese garden as lanterns and
As with most things associated with the garden the fence and gates
have deep symbolic meaning as well as specific function. We are
encouraged to view the garden as a separate world in which we
have no worries or concerns. The fence insulates us from the outside
world and the gate is the threshold where we both discard our
worldly cares and then prepare ourselves to once again face the
Courtyards include a modern
alfresco (sheltered outdoor living)
area with a lush backdrop of
• Stones are fundamental elements
of Japanese gardens.
• Stones used are not quarried by
the hand of man, but of stones
shaped by nature only
• Used to construct the garden's
paths, bridges, and walkways.
• Represent a geological presence
where actual mountains are not
viewable or present. They are
placed in odd numbers and a
majority of the groupings reflect
They are artificial
mountains usually, built in
Generally between one
and five of the hills are
They are made up of
ceramics, dried wood or
Refers to a relatively small cave or
hollow set underneath the ground
near a washbasin in the garden.
The hollow produces a harp-like
echoing sound effect as water drips
into the hollow. Thus, it provides a
mysterious sound for people
strolling through the garden.
They are generally located the at
gates of the garden.
The excess water running over the
edge of the tsukubai drops down
onto polished pebbles below.
Below the ground is another large
basin, often a ceramic vase.
•The art of Bonsai involves the training
of everyday shrubs such as pine,
cypress, holly, cedar, cherry, maple,
and beech to look like old, large trees in
•The trees are usually less than one
meter high and kept small by pruning,
re-potting, growth pinching, and wiring
•Bonseki is the art of developing
miniature landscapes which may
include smallest of rock pieces to
The Japanese garden can include three possible methods for
The first is the reduced scale scenery method. The reduced
scale method takes actual natural elements and reproduces
them on a smaller scale.
The second technique called symbolization and it involves
generalization and abstraction; this could be accomplished
by using white sand to simulate the ocean.
Borrowed views is a technique that refers to artistic use of
elements that imply scenes other than those actually
portrayed. An example of this would be a painting of a house
in the city with a seaside dock in the middle of the street to
imply a seascape scene.
NON RECTILINEAR SHAPED WATER BODY
ROCKS AND BOULDERS
1.Karesansui Gardens or dry gardens
2.Tsukiyama Gardens or hill garden
3.Chaniwa Gardens or tea gardens
Also known as rock gardens and
waterless stream gardens.
Influenced by Zen Buddhism and can
be found at Zen temples of
Found in the front or rear gardens at
No water presents in gardens. raked
gravel or sand that simulates the
feeling of water.
The rocks/gravel used are chosen for
their artistic shapes, and mosses as
well as small shrubs.
Plants are much less important (and
Rocks and moss are used to
represent ponds, islands, boats,
seas, rivers, and mountains in an
Gardens were meant to be viewed
from a single, seated perspective.
Rocks in karesansui are often
associated with Chinese mountains
such as Mt. Penglai or Mt. Lu.
Stones are usually off-white or grey
though the occasional red or black
stone were added later.
They strive to make a smaller
garden appear more
Shrubs are utilized to block
views of surrounding
The gardens main focus is on
nearby mountains in the
The garden has the
mountains as part of its
Ponds, streams, hills, stones,
trees, flowers, bridges, and
paths are also used frequently
in this style as opposed to a
They are built for tea
Tea house is where the
ceremonies occur, and the
styles of both the hut and
garden are based off the simple
concepts of the sado.
There are stepping stones
leading to the tea house, stone
lanterns, and stone basins
where guests purify themselves
before a ceremony.
The teahouse is screened by
hedges to create a sense of
Courtyard gardens are small gardens.
One tsubo is a Japanese measurement equaling 3.3 square meters
The origin of the tsubo niwa lies in the 15th century when Japan's
economy was thriving. A lot of merchants had large house with
several storage buildings around it. The first courtyard gardens
were made in the open spaces between the house and the storage
The elements of a courtyard garden are similar to the elements of
a tea garden, however more shade tolerant plants are used. The
design principles of traditional Japanese courtyard gardens, are
very suited for create contemporary small spaces on roofs or
These are large landscape gardens. Often
existing landscapes are reproduced on a
smaller scale, or an imaginary landscape is
These are pleasure gardens, mostly built
during the Edo-period. Most of these gardens
are now public parks
Ryoan-ji (or The Temple of the Peaceful Dragon) is a Zen temple
located in northwest Kyoto, Japan. Belonging to the Myoshin-ji
school of the Rinzai branch of Zen Buddhism, the temple is one of
the Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto, a UNESCO World
An object of interest near the rear of the monks quarters is the
carved stone receptacle into which water for ritual purification
continuously flows. This is the Ryoan-ji tsukubai, which translates
literally as "crouch;" and the lower elevation of the basin requires
the user to bend a little bit to reach the water, which suggests
supplication and reverence.
To many, the temple's name is synonymous with the temple's
famous karesansui (dry landscape) rock garden, thought to have
been built in the late 1400s.
The garden consists of raked gravel and fifteen moss-covered
boulders, which are placed so that, when looking at the garden
from any angle only fourteen of the boulders are visible at one
It is traditionally said that only through attaining enlightenment
would one be able to view the fifteenth boulder.
The researchers propose that the implicit structure of the garden is
designed to appeal to the viewers unconscious visual sensitivity to
axial-symmetry skeletons of stimulus shapes. In support of their
findings, they found that imposing a random perturbation of the
locations of individual rock features destroyed the special
Lake of 1.25 hectares was dug, hills and
islands were formed, beaches made,
pavilions built and planting undertaken.
Has 16 bridges connecting the lake.
Lake used for boating parties and the
surrounding land as a stroll garden, in effect
a tea garden on an enormous scale.
The 'Katsura Tree' (Cercidiphyllum
japonicum) was associated with the God of
the Moon and the garden has a platform to
view its rising.
There are 23 stone lanterns to light the stroll
path after dark.
Stone basins were used for hand-washing
before a tea ceremony.
Garden designed not only for meditation
(Zen) but also for ceremonious courtly
Japanese Gardens by Gunter Nitschke
Slawson, David A. Secret Teachings in the Art
of Japanese Gardens
Yagi, Koji A Japanese Touch for Your Home