History of Japanese gardens

Asuka Period: gardens which expressed Buddhism and Taoism visions by imitating famous mountains of Chinese origin such as Penglaishan, were created.
Archaeological research has found some ruins of the gardens in Fujiwara and Heijyo castle towns. Within Heijyo castle town the remains of a water passage seemingly used at �water poetry ceremonies�.

The Osawa Pond at Daitokuji temple in Saga (Sakyo, Kyoto) is considered to be created as an artificial pond at the detached palace for the Emperor Saga. They are precious remains of gardens in the beginning of the Heian Period.

A style of aristocratic mansions in Heian Period is called �shinden-zukuri� style. In this style, a garden was created in front of the palace (the south), and the water flowed from artificial water passage into the pond with islands in the garden. Water poetry ceremonies were held there. Although this kind of aristocratic garden style in Heian Period is described in �The Tale of Genji�, there are few remaining examples of a garden that show us the style of those days.

In late Heian Period, Sakuteiki was written. It is the first book that discusses the techniques for allotment of land, stone arrangement, artificial waterfall, water passage and planting. Because of the influence of Pure Land Buddhism, pure-land-style gardens, which imitated Paradise in the Western Pureland, became popular in this time. The main architectural style has shifted from shinden style to Amitabha hall style by this time.

Remains of gardens in Mahayana Hall (Nara), Byodoin (Uji, Kyoto),
the Jyoruri Temple, Motsuji Temple (Hiraizumi, Nishi Iwai, Iwate) are examples of this style.

Many great gardens were created between Kamakura Period and Muromachi Period, not only because garden-making technique had improved in accordance with the rise of Zen and the development of Syoin-zukuri style, but also because successive shoguns liked making gardens. In this period, great garden makers such as Soseki Muso were produced. The dry landscape style, the technique by which water currency was expressed by stone arrangement without using water from ponds or creeks, had also spread in this period.

Although the works of Soseki Muso are considered to include gardens in Saihoji Temple (Kyoto), Tenryuji Temple (Kyoto) and Zuizenji Temple (Kamakura), some believe the naturalized monk Doryu Raikei contributed to those gardens and it is still uncertain who created them. The representative examples of dry-landscape-style gardens include Hojoseki Garden in Ryuanji Temple and Daisenin in Daitokuji Temple in Kyoto.

Since the Muromachi Period, the Japanese tea ceremony has flourished. Sen no Rikyu established the style of tea house, and they usually had a roji or �dewy path� leading to them. Examples of this style include Taian Roji (Oyamazaki, Otokuni, Kyoto) and Kankyuan Roji (Kyoto).

In the beginning of Edo Period, when shoguns and daimyos built their castles and mansions, they created many excursion-style gardens, in which people could walk around the garden. One of the famous garden makers in this period is Enshu Kobori. The excursion-style gardens have a pond or an artificial hill at the centre, which are often seen in daimyo�s mansions, are called Chisen excursion-style gardens. Examples of this style include Koishikawa Korakuen (Tokyo), Kenrokuen (Kanazawa), Korakuen (Okayama), Ritsurin Park (Takamatsu), Suizenji Park (Kumamoto).

Famous gardens created after Meiji Period were possessed by businesspeople and politicians. Some of the gardens which created by the Iwasaki family of Mitsubishi finance group are now open to the public as public parks in Tokyo. Aritomo Yamagata was known to be a park lover, and he left parks such as Murinan (Kyoto) and Chinzanso (Tokyo) to posterity. As a garden designer, seventh-generation Jihe Ogawa, also known as Ueji, is famous in this period. In addition, Mirei Shigemori created innovative dry-landscape-style gardens.

(Article based on Japanese Wikipedia article translated into English and used under the GNU Free Documentation License)

Japanese Gardens


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