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Japanese garden

From Academic Kids

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A spacious Japanese garden:Hosokawa Gyobu Tei, near Kumamoto Castle

Japanese gardens (日本庭園) in the tradition of Japan can be found at private homes, in neighborhood or city parks, at Buddhist temples or Shinto shrines, and at historical landmarks such as old castles. Many of the Japanese gardens most famous in the West, and within Japan as well, are Zen gardens. The tradition of the Tea masters has produced highly refined Japanese gardens of quite another style, evoking rural simplicity.

Typical Japanese gardens contain several of these elements, real or symbolic:

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Stone lantern amid plants. The shape of the roof will trap and hold a picturesque cap of snow.
  • Water
  • An island
  • A bridge to the island
  • A lantern, typically of stone
  • A teahouse or pavilion

Japanese gardens might fall into one of these styles:

  • Strolling gardens, for viewing from a path
  • Sitting gardens, for contemplating from one place, such as the tiny tsuboniwa found in machiya (traditional wooden townhouses).
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Karesansui garden at Tōfuku-ji in Kyōto

Many Zen temples feature a garden in the karesansui (or karesenzui, kosansui, kosensui 枯山水: "dry landscape") style. These have no water, but typically evoke a feeling of water using pebbles and meticulously raked gravel or sand. Rocks chosen for their intriguing shapes and patterns, mosses, and low shrubs typify the karesansui style. The garden at Ryōan-ji, a temple in Kyoto, is particularly renowned.

This garden has an abundance of plants, including seasonal flowers.
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This garden has an abundance of plants, including seasonal flowers.

Other gardens also use similar rocks for decoration. Some of these come from distant parts of Japan. In addition, bamboos and related plants, evergreens including Japanese black pine, and such deciduous trees as maples grow above a carpet of ferns and mosses.

Shakkei (借景), "borrowed scenery," is a technique Japanese gardeners use to make a small garden seem more spacious. By judiciously planting shrubs to block the view of nearby structures, they encourage the viewer to look up toward the mountains, and to think of them as part of the garden.

Some other especially noteworthy gardens within and outside of Japan are:

A strolling garden
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A strolling garden
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A water basin

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