Gardening 101: The Concealed Japanese Gardening Style

Gardening 101: The Concealed Japanese Gardening Style

There are various types of gardening today such as indoor, water gardening, community, and native plan gardening. Moreover, there are other types that are slowly emerging from century-long concealment. The world has waited long enough for such a mystery to unfold.

This great art of gardening, concealed for many years, is called Nihon Teien or Japanese gardening. These are gardens traditionally made to showcase the culture of Japan through limited space and garden container ideas. Today, such art is commonly seen in houses, parks, and landmarks. Buddhist and Shinto Temples also house the best of nature’s grandeur in such limited spaces.

Interestingly, this emerging art famous in European countries was developed from the influences and style of the Chinese gardens.

Nihon Teien as seen today was born in Fujiwara and Heijyo castle towns. The earliest designs highlight Buddhism and Taoism visions by showcasing famous Chinese mountains like the Penglaishan. Ruins of Japanese gardens found in Heijyo castle were found to include a water passage thought to be used in water poetry ceremonies.

One of the interesting developments in Japanese gardening occurred through a Zen Monk named Kokan Shiren. He wrote a rhyme-prose titled Rhymephrose on Miniature Landscape that advanced the art of bonseki and bonsai. The secret art of Japanese gardening was traditionally passed on from sensei (teacher) to apprentice. In fact, Kokan vehemently stated in the book that the writing must never be shown to outsiders and that everything in the book must be kept a secret.

Fortunately, various trade schools supplemented this knowledge as what most people know now today.

Moreover, Nihon Teien involves various styles that may serve as garden design ideas for people who tend their own gardens at home. The first in line is the Tsukiyama where water element is ubiquitous. Tsukiyama recreates the natural scenery of Japan while emphasizing on bodies of water. Ponds embody the lakes and seas, while trees, shrubs and bridges embody the creation of artificial hills, by which Tsukiyama got its name.

Furthermore, Kare-san-sui is a Japanese garden known for its traditional sand and stone elements. Also known as Zenniwa, this is considered the most conceptual form of Japanese garden found in Zen temples. Compared to Tsukiyama, Kare-san-sui includes only raked sand representing water and stones symbolizing gods, animals, or mountains.

Lastly, Japanese culture highly involves tea ceremony that is why a dedicated gardening design exists to complement it. Chaniwa are tea gardens found everywhere in Japan. They are commonly built outside tea ceremony houses to facilitate the “cleansing” of the ceremony attendees. The inclusion, a set of stones where water passes through, is one of the interesting garden design tips other countries adopted from Japan.

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