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Japanese Garden Basics

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Japanese gardening is very unique way to recreate your outdoor space. It is not very time consuming, but a very rewarding experience. Join me, in our journey through the Japanese Gardening basics.


The Japanese Garden Principles

Japanese gardening have been influenced greatly by Chinese gardening designs. They started to gain popularity in Japan in medieval times, and have developed into four unique styles: Zen Gardens, Tea Gardens, Small yard gardens and Stroll Gardens. The central idea in Japanese gardening is the serenity and meditating effect of the scenery.

The main principal of Japanese garden is to cherish nature as it is, which means not to create view that is cannot be found in nature, like purple water that is done with unnatural dye. It is also important to balance on the components, to choose wisely the forms, the space and the size. The space and time, as an important part of the Japanese Gardening, needs to be used wisely, remember the In and Yo, a Japanese equivalent of yin and yang.

Another aspect of Japanese Garden is privacy. To achieve this, different degrees of viewing the scenery are used, including fences and bridges that divide the space into parts. An archway, a separating element, is used quite often. It helps one to transfer from the everyday worries to the state of contemplation. A common way to tease the viewer is to make a small opening in the fence, so that the stroller can marvel at what lies ahead.

Before we talk about designs, we need to identify main materials that are key ingriedents in creating your own Japanese Garden. These would be:


Rocks, which is the structure of the garden. It sets out the whole tone for the style. The basic stones, as we remember from a post on Zen Garden designs, are the low vertical (the soul stone), the tall vertical (Body Stone), flat (Heart Stone), arching (Branching stone) and reclining stone (ox stone). The appropriate placing of stones is very important, but don’t overreact. Remember the simple rule of using one of each kind appropriately. Usually stones are placed in threesome.


Water. An important aspect of each garden, even if it is devoid of water, remember the Zen Garden, that uses gravel ripples representing ocean or rives. Even if the space doesn’t allow you to put there a pond or a stream, a water basin is sufficient in representing this element.


Greenery. The plants are not to be exquisite, but all natural and fitting into the general vista. Sometimes, moss is used instead of grass. The preferred trees are evergreen, which emphasize  seasonal trees.

Tenkebutsu and Shakkei.

The ornaments, once again should accent the natural scenery and serve some functional purpose, like a water basin, symbolizing a Mizu, or stone lantern for light. Shakkei stands for borrowed scenery. It denotes the objects that are not included in the garden and makes the part of the scenery. There are also four types: far – including a distant object, like a mountain; near might be a blossom on your neighbors lawn, high – above the railing, and low – seen below the railing.

The traditional designs for the garden can be characterized as formal – shin, intermediate – gyo and informal –so. Follow these three simple style technique and you have your own Japanese garden.

1.Chisen-kaiyu-shiki.This translates as hill and pond design.  The hill signifies a mountain overlooking water area, a pond. This design is usual for stroll garden.

2. Hiraniwa.Flat Garden, Usually used for the place near some temples or shrines, therefore most appropriate for Zen Garden design.

3. Roji. Or tea garden design features the path leading to the tea ceremony house as the central theme. It is best for it to look as simple and rustic.

If, while reading this, you got caught into constant contradiction – then you caught the atmosphere of the Japanese Gardening. Whether you have big outdoor space, ideal for Stroll or Zen gardens, or tiny space, for small yard, you can always build your own green sanctuary in Japanese style.

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