Japanese garden (part 2)


Japanese garden: part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4.

  • Japanese garden elements
  • Composition principles
  • Space and time

Japanese garden elements

The scent of cherry blossoms reigns supreme
Like radiating from the bottom of a pond.
I never get tired of watching this
Never, until the end of the world.

Anthology "Quinyo waka" (1289)1

In Japanese culture, gardening is a high art that is akin to and related to the arts of calligraphy and ink drawing, painting and architecture. In the center of the Japanese garden there is a house, from the windows of which the whole garden is clearly visible, which is a continuation of the interior of the house, when the interior space of the house harmoniously merges into the space of the garden surrounding the house.

In addition to other architectural structures, the following elements are usually located on the site of the Japanese garden:

  • water, real or symbolic;
  • rocks or groups of stones;
  • stone lantern;
  • tea house or pavilion;
  • a hedge, fence or wall, made in a characteristic style;
  • bridge to an island or across a stream;
  • path of stones;
  • rock garden;
  • goal;
  • pagoda or sculptural image of Buddha.

In the Japanese garden, each of the listed elements, having a special symbolic meaning, are in harmony with other elements, which is filled with a deep philosophical meaning. Chinese and Japanese philosophies argue that a person can live his life more fully, opening himself to the perception of the universal rhythms of nature. In a Japanese garden, a person tunes in to the state of serenity and serenity, which are achieved in the process of meditation practiced in Buddhism. All elements of the Japanese garden, its sounds, colors and structure, carefully and carefully combined into a single composition, purposefully affect all the organs of perception so that a person absorbs this picture of harmony not only visually, but also with the help of hearing, smell and touch.

A Japanese garden can mimic a vast landscape in miniature by building artificial hills, mountains and plains, waterfalls, lakes, paths and streams. In the composition of a Japanese garden, it is necessary to take into account the various points of view of the garden, and what will be seen from each of these points. At the same time, great importance is attached to objects that are located outside the garden and make up its visible background, such as a mountain, a hill or groups of trees, which are used as components of the picturesque composition of the garden, which allows you to visually expand the boundaries of the garden space. This principle of considering the unity of space is called "Shakkey", which can be translated as "borrowed landscape".

Composition principles

The first and main principle of Sakutei-Ki is:

"According to the location of the plot of land and depending on the structure of the water landscape, you should decorate each part of the garden with taste, recalling how nature presents itself, showing its characteristics."

The following four principles that should be followed when organizing a Japanese garden state:

  • Shotoku no sansui ("Natural mountain river") - should be created in the likeness of nature;
  • "Kehan ​​no shitagau" (“Follow the line of the lake shore”) - should be planned according to the topography of the site;
  • "Suchigaite" ("Irregular numerical values") - compositions should be made from asymmetric elements;
  • "Fusey" ("Feeling the wind") - the environment should be captured and presented.

To convey the spirit of a Japanese garden, one must remember that nature is the ideal that one must strive for when creating it. Nature can be idealized or symbolized, but you cannot create anything that nature could never create. For example, you should not place a square or rectangular pond or fountain in the garden, as this cannot be found in nature. However, a group of stones can symbolize mountains, ponds - lakes, a wavy pattern given by a rake on a sandy garden area - an ocean.

Following another important principle - the principle of balance, in Japanese "Sumi", everything should be proportionate. So, the size of a stone, boulder or rock, which will have to play the role of a mountain on the site, must correspond to the size of the site itself. Therefore, all the components for your garden should be selected especially carefully, taking into account their proportionality to the area on which the garden will be laid out.

Space and time

What a stupid nightingale!
He mistook for a shady forest
Bamboo wattle.

Takarai Kikaku (1661-1707)

Every Japanese garden has a fence, since in order to serve as a place of solitude, the garden must be securely fenced from the outside world, but also a means must be created through which it will be possible to enter and leave it. Fences and gates serve these purposes, which are no less an important part of the Japanese garden than a lantern or stone. The Japanese garden is a microcosm - a separate world in which there are no worries and worries. The fence isolates us from the macrocosm - the outside world, and the gate is the border where we leave all our worldly concerns, and then prepare ourselves to face the problems that exist in the big world again.

In Japanese gardens, the seemingly "emptiness" of space in a part of the garden, which is a key element of the composition of a Japanese garden, is also striking. This is empty space, in Japanese it is called "Ma", characterizes emptiness, gap, interval, intermediateness, location between other spaces, people and objects. The empty space "ma" both defines the elements of the garden that surround it, and is itself determined by the surrounding elements. Such "empty" space is necessary, because without "nothing" you cannot get "anything". This concept is in line with the spirit "In and yo"which is better known for Chinese words Yin and yang.

The unconditional emptiness of "ma" can be seen on the curls of patterns on the white sand surrounding the stones in the famous rock garden in Rean-ji, which reveal the continuity of form and emptiness in the place of space occupied by the philosophical concept of emptiness. The principle of ma beauty can also be seen during the famous Japanese tea ceremony. The application of the principle of "ma" can be observed in the presence of empty spaces in the teahouse, which reflect the artistic preferences of simplicity, restraint and austereness of rural life, expressed in such traditional Japanese aesthetic concepts as "wabi", "sabi" and "shibui"2.

In the process of creating a Japanese garden, the interaction of "wabi" and "sabi" is also key.

Concept "Wabi" can be interpreted as "one of a kind, separate, exceptional, solitary."

"Sabi" defines the time or the ideal image and is most correctly translated as "patina, trace, imprint." A cement lantern may be one of a kind, but it lacks the perfect look. The stone may be old and covered with moss, but at the same time, if it is in the form of a ball, then it will be devoid of "wabi".

In turn, the concept "Shibui" can be interpreted as "refined restraint". For the Japanese, the concept of "shibui" is a manifestation of the highest beauty. "Shibui" can be described as an elusive beauty that can be illusory to the one who is trying to create it. This beauty is natural or contains a natural component. Shibui is what catches our eye over and over again when we sense that we have missed something. Shibui can refer to objects, manners, human behavior, clothing, food, gardens, in fact, all aspects of our lives.

A manifestation of shibuya in nature can be a lovingly decorated garden in which man-made objects are a harmonious combination of material, design, craftsmanship and natural beauty. This natural beauty can manifest itself in the form of trees or in the patina acquired by various objects in the garden over time. This plaque of time can be created by accident, or through inattention, or simply in the process of aging of this object. Objects that have a touch of time can tell us quietly about what new ones cannot.

Read in the third part of the article:

  • Three basic rules of the Japanese garden
  • Garden plan
  • Making a mini garden
  • Sample list of plants for a mini garden

Zarine Arushanyan, Yerevan


1 Translated by Z.L. Arushanyan
2 Steve Odin, The social self in Zen and American pragmatism


Japanese rock garden

The inhabitants of Japan are sure that the stone is endowed with a symbolic meaning. He is perceived as a frozen spirit. Despite the shape of the stone, it embodies the strength, grandeur and attractiveness of nature. The sacred meaning influenced the location of the rock gardens in the land of the rising sun. From the 14th century, such gardens began to be laid out in Buddhist temples.

The most famous of all is the garden of the Ryoanji Temple, but it is not known who exactly was its author. Chaotically placed, as it might seem at first glance, fifteen stones are subject to the strictest laws. They are divided into five groups, which are distributed from east to west. It is noteworthy that only 14 stones can be seen in any place. According to legend, a person who sees all 15 stones at once will be granted enlightenment.

You are unlikely to comprehend Zen Buddhism by simply creating a rock garden on your site, but you will definitely get a place where you can feel world harmony and unity with nature. To create a balanced composition, the stones should be placed in a specific pattern.

An important detail in the arrangement of a rock garden is considered to be a heptagonal geometric grid of lines. Stones should be placed strictly at the intersection of these lines.


Rustling ferns

The ferns were planted with native species. They were placed in all open spaces: in gravel, between wooden planks, under bamboo and other trees. This one gave the garden integrity and formed laconic and filigree textures. All plants have taken root well and cast shadows in soft light in the evenings.


Japanese garden

To begin with, it should be recalled that a Japanese garden is, first of all, a corner of natural nature, made in miniature: it can occupy an area of ​​only a few square meters. To imitate natural objects, a variety of materials are used that can reflect an image: for example, a large stone depicts a mountain, small stones and cobblestones - a waterfall or mountain stream, white gravel - the sea, a pile of sand - a hill, a stone tower - a temple.

Circles and squares are sometimes used in Japanese garden compositions. The most common are asymmetric options from stones and pebbles, mosses and short plants or groups of trees, taking into account the periods of their growth and flowering. The predominant colors are green, gray and brown, complemented by bright spots of flowers and fruits. Open spaces are an essential feature of a Japanese garden.


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