Mystery in Japanese gardens

We had a chance to visit the Japanese garden at Pocantico Hills in Tarrytown, New York. The garden was originally designed by two Japanese, Mr. Ueda and Mr. Takahashi, in the property of John D. Rockefeller. In the 1960’s David Engel redesigned the garden when the garden was relocated. Mystery is an important keyword when designers […]

Sansui- Mountains and Water in Japanese Gardens

At our talk in April in New York, among a variety of questions we were happy to receive, there was an interesting one that could be called a linguestic question: “What does sansui (山水) mean? Does it mean nature or a garden?” In Japanese, san (山) means a mountain and sui (水) means water. Combined, […]

Beauty of Not Showing All in Japanese Architecture

Is this, seen on this picture of Machiya townhouse in Kyoto, an opening or a wall? Japanese architecture have neither, not in a clearly defined way in Western architecture. An element that looks like a wall is thin and can slide open. Other things that look like openings are just perforated walls. The architecture’s post-and-beam structure and Japan’s […]

Kamo River – Water to divide life and death

In Japan,  people think that water sometimes becomes a border to divide two different worlds. Kamo River, which runs through Kyoto City, also used to be thought as the border to separate the world for the living from that for the dead. There was a crematory in the area called Toribeno. This area is located at […]

Garden for Salvation – Cosmology in Japanese Gardens

One of the reasons why people build gardens is to materialize their images of heaven. Good examples are seen in Japanese gardens and other gardens in the world. Historically, since Buddhism has influenced Japanese culture throughout history, the image of heaven in many Japanese gardens is defined by Buddhist cosmology. “Nine Mountains and Eight Oceans” is a part of the cosmology of Buddhism. It […]