Chishaku-in: a Kyoto garden of deep repose

Original text and photo – STEPHEN MANSFIELD

As a garden, Chishaku-in has many of the attributes of Japanese landscape design that should attract a good number of visitors. The fact that the temple in Kyoto’s southeastern Higashikawara-cho district is rarely crowded, and that scant attention is paid to it in guidebooks, is therefore somewhat surprising.

The site now occupied by Chishaku-in was once home to Shoun-ji, a temple the famed warlord Toyotomi Hideyoshi built for his son, Sutemaru, who died in 1591 at the age of 3.

There is a touch of irony in the fact that another generalissimo, Tokugawa Ieyasu (1543-1616) — the founder and first shogun of the Tokugawa Shogunate (1603-1867) — placed Shoun-ji in the hands of the priests of Chishaku-in, a temple in Kii Province (present-day Wakayama Prefecture) that was torched to the ground by Hideyoshi’s forces in 1585. Being the headquarters of the Chizan school of Shingon Buddhism, Shoun-ji carries a certain authority.

Chishakuin

Photo: www.kyotoasanoxn.com

Some garden scholars have credited the original design of Chishaku-in to the revered personage of Sen-no-Rikyu (1522-91), but this claim is unsupported. Herbert Plutschow’s excellent book on the tea master, “Rediscovering Rikyu,” for example, makes no mention of any time he spent working on the garden. We do know, though, that Rikyu much admired the arrangement and doubtless enjoyed moments of quiet reflection in this pond-viewing garden, which was rebuilt in 1674 under the supervision of the priest Sosei.

Falls.Chishaku

Photo:www.learn.bowdoin.edu

With Kyoto fortunate to have been exempted from Allied bombing raids in World War II, many of the area’s gardens have survived. However, yet another irony attending Chishaku-in is the fact that both the temple buildings and garden were ravaged by fire in 1947 — two years after the war. Nonetheless, its outline and stone arrangements — the essential schemata for most Japanese landscapes — appear to have survived intact.

Read more via Chishaku-in: a Kyoto garden of deep repose | The Japan Times.

A world-class Japanese Garden in the Irish homeland

The Irish National Stud’s Japanese Gardens were created between 1906 and 1910 by Colonel William Hall Walker, a wealthy Scotsman from a famous brewing family with the help of Japanese master horticulturist Tassa Eida and his son Minoru. Through trees, plants, flowers, lawns, rocks and water, the gardens aim to symbolize the “Life of Man”. That plan was executed to perfection and Eida’s legacy is now admired by the 150,000 visitors who soak up the peace of the gardens every year.Very much representative of JIrish National StudVery much representative of Japanese gardens from the early 20th century, Eida’s work traces the journey of a soul from oblivion to eternity and portrays the human experience of its embodiment as it journeys by paths of its own choice through life. Birth, childhood, marriage, parenthood, old age, death and the afterlife are all brought to mind as the gardens, a seamless mixture of Eastern and Western cultures, are explored.

Eida left Tully in 1912 with 34 years passing before the gardens gained their next supervisor, Patrick Doyle, who remained in charge until 1972, since when the gardens have continued to flourish and surge in popularity.

Among the most loved of all Ireland’s gardens, the Irish National Stud’s Japanese Gardens are a veritable feast for the eye and ear with the sight and sound of trickling streams perfectly complementing the greenery and vivid colours that provide a tranquil backdrop to the beautiful Bridge of Life and Tea House.

Irish National Stud

The Japanese Gardens are a place for contemplation, meditation and reflection. Since they were first enjoyed more than 100 years ago, they have never failed to please.

via Visitors – Attractions – Europe’s Finest Japanese Gardens – Irish National Stud.

Meet Shunmyo Masuno, Zen priest and modern garden designer

Masuno gardenZen Buddhist priest Shunmyo Masuno of the Kenkoh-ji Temple in Yokohama is the man behind some of the most breathtaking modern gardens  in urban Japan. He is also the last active garden designer in his order.

Video: The Zen Gardens of Shunmyo Masuno

Masuno is bringing the spirit of the traditional Japanese garden into the hectic world of the modern Japanese.

Masuno: “The fact that time is moving faster means that it is getting more and more difficult for people to take control of time, or even just to take time off and relax. And it is precisely this dilemma which led to the demand for gardens today to be sanctuaries of contemplation, where one feels embraced by nature. In essence, gardens which provide people with peace of mind, a sense of stability and a feeling of contentment. It’s no longer enough to merely provide a green zone here, or an occasional floral embellishment to a skyscraper there. What we need today are gardens that can reach deep into people’s hearts.”  

He brings traditional garden design precepts into the scope of the modern landscape architect.

Masuno: “Fundamental to Japanese garden design is the belief that all things in nature, be they stones or mountains have life and we must honor these lives that exist beyond ourselves so every single, independent characteristic of the thing considered must be discovered, brought out and reawakened to life. A landscape architect must attempt to identify this special character of a given object and honor its worthiness by assigning the exactly appropriate role to play, so in a Japanese garden, crooked or curved trees are viewed as equally valid, as are stones which symbolize movement. We honor the heart of the natural object.” 

Garden-making for Masuno is an intensely personal exercise.

Masuno: “There is a Zen proverb that says if a poisonous snake drinks water, it is changed to poison. If a cow drinks water, it is changed to milk. That means that it is up to me whether the same water I drink is changed into poison or into milk. If my heart is not addressed, I can’t just create beautiful gardens full of spirituality. Therefore, such gardens are also a mirror of myself. They are myself.” 

 

Gardens eased Japanese Americans’ WWII internment experience

During their World War II internment, Japanese Americans created gardens to improve their prison-like surroundings, using whatever materials they could find.

Manzanar National Historic Site in California was established to protect and interpret historical and cultural resources associated with the incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II. The site recently completed preservation work at two of its dozens of Japanese gardens with the help of US and Japanese volunteers . Both the Block 12 Mess Hall Garden and the Arai Family Fish Pond in Block 33 provide visitors with a glimpse of how some of the 11,000 Japanese Americans coped with their confinement during World War II. Visitors can see both gardens via short walks from the auto tour road.

Like other gardens at Manzanar, the Block 12 mess hall garden illustrates many traditional characteristics of Japanese gardens, with features representing a mountain, a stream, waterfalls and cascades, and crane and tortoise rocks. The Arai pond featured a stream, rock borders, three islands, a fish tunnel, and even water lilies. It was a “place of beauty and serenity,” according to Madelon Arai Yamamoto, the daughter of the pond’s creator.

Garden preservation and restoration is an important part of meeting the Site’s mission, but most of the gardens at Manzanar had been long abandoned, buried, and forgotten. Preservation work included removal of invasive vegetation, archeological excavation and mapping, cleaning and repair of damaged concrete, resetting of displaced rocks, and, in some cases, reconstruction of damaged or missing features.

In the summer of 2013, disastrous flooding reversed much of the stabilization work that had already been completed. Manzanar’s historic preservation specialist John Kepford noted that the labor contributed by volunteers was critical to overcoming not only the slow deterioration and burial caused by decades of abandonment, but also the rapid damage caused by the recent floods. Thanks to the volunteers, Kepford remarked, “the gardens can now help tell the story of the resiliency of Japanese Americans during their internment.”

According to Professor Kendall Brown of California State University Long Beach, the Japanese gardens at Manzanar are noteworthy because they were created during World War II, when resources were scarce and when anti-Japanese sentiment was at an all-time high. Even more remarkable, Dr. Brown says, is that “this is garden art of a very high order … Arguably this is the most interesting, compelling collection of Japanese gardens in America.”

Ten Japanese gardens at Manzanar have been documented and stabilized to date, but more await archeological investigation and preservation. Volunteer opportunities are posted on the Manzanar website as they become available.

The Manzanar Visitor Center features extensive exhibits, audio-visual programs, and a bookstore. It is open 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily. Manzanar is located at 5001 Hwy. 395, six miles south of Independence, California. For more information, please call (760) 878-2194 or visit our website at HYPERLINK “http://www.nps.gov/manz”nps.gov/manz.

via Gardens that softened life of imprisonment restored | Sierra Wave: Eastern Sierra News.

Seattle Japanese Garden opens on March 1

Parkways » Seattle Japanese Garden celebrates Opening Day First Viewing

The Seattle Japanese Garden’s 2014 season opens on Saturday, March 1 with a celebration from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. To ensure a wonderful season, Reverend Koichi Barrish of the Tsubaki Grand Shrine will honor the Japanese Garden with the traditional Shinto blessing at noon.

This 3 ½ acre formal garden evokes another time and place, a unique and artistic representation of nature influenced by Shinto, Buddhist, and Tao philosophies. Designed and built under the supervision of world-renowned Japanese garden designer Juko Iida in 1960, the garden is a quiet place, allowing reflection and meditation through the careful placement of water, garden plants, stones, waterfalls, trees and bridges.

Admission fees for First Viewing are: $10 for adults 18-64, $5 for youths 6–17, senior adults 65+, college students with ID, and people with disabilities, and free for kids younger than 6.

For free, the community is invited to enjoy the opening of a beautiful new photography exhibit “A Celebration of Spring”  from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the Tateuchi Community Room.  The juried show also on March 1 celebrates nine photographers and their fantastic views of the Garden from a spring workshop in 2013.

The Japanese Garden offers monthly tea presentations and demonstration at the Tea House and other great community events during the March -November season when it is open to the public.

via Parkways » Seattle Japanese Garden celebrates Opening Day First Viewing.

A Japanese garden in Corvallis, Oregon

 

Photo: http://www.gardenofgentlebreeze.com/

The world-famous Portland Japanese Garden is but the start of a North American Asian garden exploration in the Pacific Northwest. The area, so like Japan in climate and horticulture, is teeming with many hidden gems like the “Garden of Gentle Breeze,” a private haven located in the university town of Corvallis, Oregon.

Photo: http://www.gardenofgentlebreeze.com/

Photo:http://www.gardenofgentlebreeze.com/

Photo: http://www.gardenofgentlebreeze.com/

Photo: http://www.gardenofgentlebreeze.com/

From the website: “Garden of Gentle Breeze is a green oasis  crisscrossed by footpaths, three gentle  ponds with the soothing sounds of small waterfalls. The large boulders and stones  help us to feel grounded in the earth while above us and around us stand the towering firs, flowering shrubs and plants, all carefully placed to create a sanctuary of tranquility.The garden is a place of harmony that integrates the four elements–earth, air, water, and fire–and achieves a balance between Yin and Yang. As a wedding venue, it is a perfect place to begin one’s life journey with the one you love and a place that you can return to again and again for inspiration, rekindling fond memories and renewing your vows as the years go by.  Family and invited guests will always remember what a special and beautiful day they spent being part of your wedding.  They too can return to visit the gardens whenever they feel the need to relax and rejuvenate.”

via Garden of Gentle Breeze | Corvallis Japanese Garden in Oregon.

New botanic garden to rise in the Isle of Man

Planners have approved applications for a ‘botanical garden of global standing and worthy recognition’ in Santon.

Mark Shuttleworth, the first South African in space and multi-millionaire founder of the Ubuntu computer operating system, is the brainchild behind the project.

And the garden can be created within about 71 acres of land that he owns in Ballavale Road, subject to a number of planning conditions.

In the design statement submitted with the applications (13/00830/B), (13/00831/B), (13/00832/B) and (13/00834/B) it stated: ‘The intention is to create an estate, and associated buildings, that will contribute significantly to the island’s heritage, creating a botanical garden of global standing and worthy recognition.’

When open to the public, the plan is for the gardens to be presented in a manner to inform and educate visitors in a relaxed environment’

Wildlife and biodiversity are considered to be intrinsic elements of the masterplan.

As much of the existing mature vegetation as possible will be retained, and will be enhanced by additional planting schemes specifically designed to conserve and encourage the growth of local planting species, attract wildlife and encourage biodiversity.

There will be wetlands, a glen, a meadow orchard, Japanese garden, gardeners’ compound, sensory garden, water cascade and a walled garden.

A large production house will enable a substantial and constant seasonal supply of plants and flowers’ to be grown.

A sensory garden will be developed in close collaboration with a number of charities including the Manx Blind Welfare Society and Rebecca House children’s hospice.

And an amphitheatre will provide an outdoor stage for theatrical performances and educational presentations.

via Plan to create botanic garden ‘of global standing’ – Isle of Man Today.