The Essence of Japanese Gardens

Japanese gardens are places full of harmony and beauty. A Japanese garden is made up of natural elements arranged in a unique way that sets its visitors at ease. The rocks, green plants, bridges, and areas of water in a Japanese garden all contribute to the peaceful scene. Japanese gardens are popular places for meditation and quiet reflection.

What is a Japanese Garden?

The rocks, plants, sand, bridges, water, and lanterns of Japanese gardens combine to create an atmosphere of tranquility. A person touring a Japanese garden observes the natural elements of the space along with a variety of appealing views. A visitor may stop and sit on a stone bench to meditate in a Japanese garden. Alternatively, a guest may prefer to move slowly through a Japanese garden taking the time to admire its many views of nature.

Common Elements

A pathway created with stones is a common element found in a Japanese garden. The path leads a visitor through a space filled with subtle touches of beauty. In addition, floating plants are often seen in small ponds within the garden. Furthermore, these ponds are sometimes filled with brightly colored fish. In many cases, the pathway in a Japanese garden takes on a character of its own. For instance, if there is a curve in the path it exists there in order to guide a visitor’s eyes toward an appealing feature of the garden.

Creating Unique and Inspiring Japanese Gardens

Someone who undertakes the creation of a Japanese garden should keep the focus on its natural elements. The rocks, stones, and green plants should be arranged in a way that gives an observer a sense of order. A designer can be creative in setting up a Japanese garden while still using the basic elements. Ultimately, a tour of a Japanese garden should leave its visitors with a sense of ease.

Types of Japanese Gardens

When it comes to design, there are several types of Japanese gardens. For example, there is a Zen garden. This type of garden generally consists of sand, gravel, or rocks. These items symbolize bodies of water and mountains. A second type of Japanese garden is a water garden. A water garden often involves a scene of floating plants,koi fish, and arrangements of rocks. A Japanese tea garden combines water, rocks, plants, and trees to create a natural path of quiet discovery for its visitors.

  • Water Gardens – Popular in many home landscapes, water gardens typically consist of a small body of water filled with colorful fish and exotic plants. Often rocks and other fixed features are included in order to add interest to the water itself. Often the pools or ponds of water gardens appear to have existed for a long time causing all kinds of natural greenery to have emerged, however, they intentionally are made to look this way. Some plants that are common in water gardens are water lilies and other submerged plants, plants which have roots submerged but sit above the water such as the lotus plant, and flowering plants that float on the surface of the water. Exotic fish are also found in water gardens. Most popular is the koi, but other types of fish have also been known to be kept in water gardens.
  • Zen or Rock Gardens – Also called a “dry landscape garden”, Japanese rock gardens are often found at temples as a quiet place for meditation. Often abstract, the Japanese rock garden, or karesansui is used to represent a miniature landscape as a way to express the beauty of the cosmos. Rock gardens include only dry elements. There are no ponds or streams present in Japanese rock gardens. Often sand and gravel are used to represent water, being raked into patterns to symbolize waves and movement, while stones are used to represent other natural elements like mountains or people. Moss is sometimes used to cover an area where forest would be present in the landscape.
  • Tea Gardens – Japanese tea gardens are sometimes referred to as Chaniwa gardens. Originally built as a place to hold traditional tea ceremonies they usually are nearby or surrounding a Japanese tea house where the ceremony itself will take place. In the garden, where those participating in the ceremony may meditate and purify themselves in the stone basins, there are stepping stones leading visitors through the garden to the tea house.
  • Strolling Gardens – This type of Japanese garden is one that must be walked through in order to be appreciated. Strolling gardens often line a path and are arranged in a way that directs the attention of the visitor to certain points of the garden by the use of uneven surfaces.

Japanese Garden Resources

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