Classical zen gardens were created at temples of Zen Buddhism in Kyoto during the Mariachi period. They were intended to imitate the intimate essence of nature, not its actual appearance, and to serve as an aid to meditation about the true meaning of existence.
Stone gardens existed in Japan at least since the Main period (794–1185). They were largely copied from the Chinese gardens of the Song Dynasty (960–1279), where groups of rocks symbolized Mount Bengali, the legendary mountain-island home of the Eight Immortals in Chinese mythology, known in Japanese as Hora.
This kind of garden featured either rocks placed upright like mountains, or laid out in a miniature landscape of hills and ravines, with few plants. The ocean style featured rocks that appeared to have been eroded by waves, surrounded by a bank of white sand, like a beach.
White sand and gravel had long been a feature of Japanese gardens. In the Shinto religion, it was used to symbolize purity, and was used around shrines, temples, and palaces.
In zen gardens, it represents water, or, like the white space in Japanese paintings, emptiness and distance. The Mariachi period in Japan, which took place at roughly the same time as the Renaissance in Europe, was characterized by political rivalries which frequently led to wars, but also by an extraordinary flourishing of Japanese culture.
Zen Buddhism was introduced into Japan at the end of the 12th century, and quickly achieved a wide following, particularly among the Samurai class and warlords, who admired its doctrine of self-discipline. The gardens of the early zen temples in Japan resembled Chinese gardens of the time, with lakes and islands.
But in Kyoto in the 14th and 15th century, a new kind of garden appeared at the important zen temples. “Nature, if you made it expressive by reducing it to its abstract forms, could transmit the most profound thoughts by its simple presence”, Michel Marion wrote.
“The compositions of stone, already common in China, became in Japan, veritable petrified landscapes, which seemed suspended in time, as in certain moments of Not theater, which dates to the same period.” The first garden to begin the transition to the new style is considered by many experts to be Shoji, “The Temple of the Perfumes of the West,” popularly known as Koke-dera, the Moss Garden, in the western part of Kyoto.
The lower garden of Shoji is in the traditional Main period style; a pond with several rock compositions representing islands. The second, Zazen-seki, is a flat “meditation rock,” which is believed to radiate calm and silence; and the third is the partake, a dry “waterfall” composed of a stairway of flat granite rocks.
This garden appears to have been strongly influenced by Chinese landscape painting of the Song Dynasty, which feature mountains rising in the mist, and a suggestion of great depth and height. The garden at Tenry-ji has a real pond with water and a dry waterfall of rocks looking like a Chinese landscape.
Shoji and Tenry-ji show the transition from the Main style garden toward a more abstract and stylized view of nature. The gardens of Ginkaku-ji, also known as the Silver Pavilion, are also attributed to Must Hokusai.
The scene was called ginshanada, literally “sand of silver and open sea”. This garden feature became known as kogetsudai, or small mountain facing the moon, and similar small Mount Fuji made of sand or earth covered with grass appeared in Japanese gardens for centuries afterwards.
The most famous of all zen gardens in Kyoto is Ryan-ji, built in the late 15th century where for the first time the zen garden became purely abstract. The stones are surrounded by white gravel, which is carefully raked each day by the monks.
The garden is meant to be viewed from a seated position on the veranda of the hobo, the residence of the abbot of the monastery. The invention of the zen garden was closely connected with developments in Japanese ink landscape paintings.
It was the model for similar miniature mountains in Japanese gardens for centuries. The garden was built by the daimyo Too Morin, who was a convert to Christianity.
During the Do period, the large promenade garden became the dominant style of Japanese garden, but zen gardens continued to exist at zen temples. In 1940, the temple commissioned the landscape historian and architect Signori Mira to recreate the gardens.
He created four different gardens, one for each face of the main temple building. He made one garden with five artificial hills covered with grass, symbolizing the five great ancient temples of Kyoto; a modern rock garden, with vertical rocks, symbolizing Mount Hora ; a large “sea” of white gravel raked in a check board pattern; and an intimate garden with swirling sand patterns.
Smooth, rounded sedimentary rocks are used for the borders of gravel “rivers” or “seashores.” In Chinese gardens of the Song dynasty, individual rocks which looked like animals or had other unusual features were often the star attraction of the garden.
In Japanese gardens, individual rocks rarely play the starring role; the emphasis is upon the harmony of the composition. Make sure that all the stones, right down to the front of the arrangement, are placed with their best sides showing.
If a stone has an ugly-looking top you should place it to give prominence to its side. Rocks are rarely if ever placed in straight lines or in symmetrical patterns.
At the end of the Do period, a new principle was invented: the use of steam, “discarded” or “nameless” rocks, placed in seemingly random places to add spontaneity to the garden. Gravel is usually used in zen gardens, rather than sand, because it is less disturbed by rain and wind.
The act of raking the gravel into a pattern recalling waves or rippling water, known as Simon () or home (), has an aesthetic function. Rakes are according to the patterns of ridges as desired and limited to some stone objects situated within the gravel area.
Developing variations in patterns is a creative and inspiring challenge. Stone and shaped shrubs (Karimi, hako-zukuri topiary) are used interchangeably.
Hiragana, which is a black-speckled granite from Kyoto, Japan, was prized for its ability to hold raked grooves and was previously used in Oregon's Japanese Garden. Oregon's Japanese Garden has subsequently been forced to look for alternative sources of gravel with similar properties, and has experimented with granite chips from Canadian quarries.
In the Japanese rock garden, rocks sometimes symbolize mountains (particularly Hora, the legendary home of the Eight Immortals in Taoist mythology); or they can be boats or a living creature (usually a turtle, or a carp). It is for this reason that, when you construct a landscape, you must at all cost place rocks around the mountain.
Some classical zen gardens, like Dieseling, have symbolism that can be easily read; it is a metaphorical journey on the river of life. Many theories have been put forward about what the garden is supposed to represent, from islands in a stream to swimming baby tigers to the peaks of mountains rising above the clouds to theories about secrets of geometry or of the rules of equilibrium of odd numbers.
This was well before scholars jumped on the bandwagon in the 1990s to deconstruct the promotion and reception of Zen. The critique comes down to the fact that Buddhist priests were not trying to express Zen in gardens.
A review of the quotes of Buddhist priests that are taken to “prove” Zen for the garden are actually phrases copied from Chinese treatises on landscape painting. In Japan the critique was taken over by Yamaha Shoji who took a critical stance to the understanding of all Japanese culture, including gardens, under the nominator of Zen.
Christian Tag sold summarized the discussion by placing perceptions of the Japanese garden in the context of an interdisciplinary comparison of cultures of Japan and the West. Zen's priests quote from Chinese treatises on landscape painting indicating that the Japanese rock garden, and its Kansans garden scenery was and still is inspired by or based on first Chinese and later also Japanese landscape painting.
Though each garden is different in its composition, they mostly use rock groupings and shrubs to represent a classic scene of mountains, valleys and waterfalls taken from Chinese landscape painting. p. 20) from Kansas Main Process, NARA 2001 The Kansans definition was extracted with permission from The on-line “living” guide to realize a Zen garden by P.M. Ratings.
^ Michel Marion, Les Jar dins- Paysagistes, Jardinieres, Poets, pp. “Visual Perception in Japanese Rock Garden Design” (PDF).
^ We Footer, Themes, Scenes, and Taste in the History of Japanese Garden Art, pp. 150–60, Maponics Uberlândia Volume 3, Given Publishers, Amsterdam ISBN 90-5063-021-9 depot.our.NL ^ Grotesques, Elizabeth ten (2003).
“Reviewed work: Themes in the History of Japanese Garden Art, We Footer”. Shots in the Dark, Japan, Zen, and the West, The University of Chicago Press, 2009 ^ Christian Tag sold, Spaces in Translation: Japanese Gardens and the West, University of Pennsylvania Press, 2017 ^ Footer, We (March 2013).
“Composition of Scenery in Japanese Pre-Modern Gardens and the Three Distances of Go Xi”. Themes, Scenes, and Taste in the History of Japanese Garden Art.
Le Hardin baronies: Angle droid ET form naturally. , Editions Robert Lamont, Paris, (ISBN 2-221-06707-X) Video Phrase (1996).
Its oldest title is Sendai His, “Secret Extracts on Gardens “, and was written nearly 1000 years ago, making it the oldest work on Japanese gardening. It is assumed that this was written in the 11th century by a noble man named Taliban no Tichitsuna.