Japan

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The earliest information about the parks of Japan, which we know from different information sources from of our era. Parks in Japan were intended for solitude, meditation and the quiet contemplation of the beauty of nature, these elements were embodied in the garden composition. The basic elements of composition included relief which was not only natural but frequently artificial , water devices like ponds, creeks, waterfalls, cliffs of many varied forms and sizes, the most diverse assortment of species of trees and shrubs (deciduous, coniferous and evergreen and flowering).

Before the spread and the wide acceptance of Buddhism the gardens of the ancient rulers were not intended for the concentrated observation, but they were often used for courtier ceremonies. Therefore they were designed without special features like wide alleys where the grandee could pass easily with their escorts, bright flower gardens which were arranged so that the blooming of some plants would be replaced by the blooming of others, and the large richly decorated pavilions for relaxation. But the influence of Buddhism, especially the study of Zen, leads to the fact that the high ranks of state begin to carry out many hours of meditation, trying to understand the essence of things. Therefore monks became the first landscape designers. They not only developed the ideological principles of the creation of compositions but also wrote many books which are practical guidelines on the landscape design.

As early as XII c. treatises about landscape design appeared in Japan; in them the basic theoretical conditions and principles of landscaping are presented, the rules of the use of territory and its articulation are indicated. These are the recommendations for the balance of the territory of a palace - park ensemble: 40% structures,  30%  the free spaces of the garden or park and 30% green plants. At the initial stage of development, in the period from VI c. until VIII c. landscape design in the Country of the Rising Sun bore on themselves the explicit imprint of Chinese culture. By the overall structure these gardens consisted of two basic elements: "mountains" and "water". A different symbolism was widely used for each element of a garden, all plants contained a certain meaning, and they were important for the general purpose of the garden.

The appearance of Japanese gardens relates to the time of the administration of Emperor Cheu (592-628 A.D.), that arrived into Japan from India through Korea and China. With the creation of gardens the Japanese recreated the subjects of the pictures, made with Indian ink on silk and the rice paper. The main subjects were mountains, hills, stones and water. Sometimes in the gardens there is no concrete image of hills, springs or rivers, and there is only a hint to their form - symbol. Then the so-called "dry scenery" appears, which attempts to transmit the beauty of valleys and gorges, mountain rivers without the application of water. In such gardens the stone plays a basic but fundamental role. In Japan there are gardens, which consist of only stones and sand. The gardens were executed according to the laws of painting and their miniaturization, which gives the sensation of three-dimensional depth, serves primarily as a place of admiration and contemplation.

The most known example of the rock garden is the beautiful Reandzi monastery, created at the end of XV c.- beginning of XVI c., in the ancient Japanese capital of Kyoto. The garden is a rectangular area of 23x9 m, located in front of the house with a veranda. The veranda is a place for its contemplation, since in the background the low wall located, after which a groups of trees are located in the form of a background. On the area covered with white sand, the stones are located in groups of 15. They are located, so that the structure of the stone  and the nuances of colour are visible under different angles, furthermore,  the stones cast shadows and because of the game of light and shadow the composition appears dynamic. White sand is combed by bamboo rakes in such a way that the grooves move in parallel with the long side of garden and form concentric circles around each group of 2-3 or 5 stones. Most important is the fact that you were located on whatever point of veranda, of 15 stones it is possible to simultaneously observe only 14. As a whole garden create for creating the illusion of sea waves, which washes the group of islands, it is or vice versa seemed that you are located highly above the earth and you observe on top the shroud of the clouds, through which come out high summits. Here there is no vegetation, but because of the proportions and the ingenious arrangement of stones this garden is the remarkable example of the garden design of Japan.

As a rule, the rock garden was arranged on a green lawn or a flower bed made from sand or gravel and was covered with complex patterns. For getting around these gardens paths were used which were made from flat tiles and their size was calculated to be the length of a step. Besides the gardens with groups of fifteen stones the garden of groups of nine stones was also traditional. From any point only eight stones were visible with this design. For contrast the rock garden was located near the plentiful verdure of the evergreen bushes and thickets of maple, which become ardent-red in the autumn. After that the garden was divided by a water obstacle such as a stream or a pond with a small fountain. This could also be "dry" river with a bright red decorative bridge. After it a peach garden or a Japanese cherry blossom was located, which were widely used because the Japanese liked plants that bloomed in the Spring.

Shortly after, as in the rest of the world, temple and courtier gardens appeared in Japan. But in 1473 the first tea house was built and at the peak of its popularity special gardens for tea drinking were created, in which the tea ceremonies could be conducted. These tea ceremonies quickly became a daily tradition of all Japanese people instead of being solely conducted in monasteries. The tea ceremony was a unique form of meditation, which consisted of the precise completion of all specified actions. As a rule, it occurred in the special tea pavilion with convenient low furniture. The tea pavilion was illuminated with traditional lamps and often decorated with special compositions of irises called tokonoma - or ikebana if it is located in a special niche. The pavilion was located in a secluded corner of garden, preferably not far from the pond, and had a narrow looping trail which led to it.  This was done so that the person, contemplating the beauties of garden, could compose themselves for the ceremony.

At the beginning the XX century the national gardens of Japan began to undergo the significant influence from the Western civilizations. But even with these conditions, they continue to preserve their bright individuality and philosophy. The worship of nature allowed the Japanese to approach the questions of the forming of the landscape with great care, making it possible to reveal the authentic beauty of plants, stones, water sources and ponds. The apparent simplicity of Japanese gardens is in reality always filled with a delicate and sensual meaning, which fills seemingly ordinary objects with a feeling of beauty.

The Japanese style garden is becoming increasingly popular today. The gardens have small area, but each element of the garden, even a small bridge or hardly noticeable lantern contains complex internal meaning. This landscape is organized according to the principle of the maximum sensation of calmness, possibility to rest and controlling nature. Japanese gardens are frequently compared with theatrical productions, since it has little in common with real nature.

The development of miniature gardens in a small space  helped develop the art of dwarfish trees like the bonsai. Dwarfish trees grow slowly, but the Japanese also do not like hurry. For the recreation of temple gardens on a plate they use dwarfish trees and miniature models of temples and waterfalls.