Takahiro Naka . Variety and Concept in Japanese Garden Design
In 2017, over 27 million international tourists visited Japan. Although they come for a variety of reasons, it is likely that the country’s gardens are a primary attraction. Kyoto, which served as Japan’s capital from 784 to 1868, in particular is home to a great many historical gardens, and even today a garden from as early as the 9th century is still in existence. There are many categories of gardens, including those made for the residences of members of the court and the houses of samurais and merchants, and those on the grounds of temples. Below, I will introduce a few examples.
Figure 1 shows the karesansui, or dry landscape garden, at the temple Ryōan-ji, in northwest Kyoto. This garden of uncertain date is composed of gravel and fifteen rocks, which were brought here from different sources, including rivers, mountains and beaches. The rocks are arranged in five groups and are in their natural state; they are neither broken nor polished. Many visitors to the temple sit on the adjacent veranda and contemplate the garden in silence, some for over an hour.