One of the biggest things we all struggle with is our health and fitness. The garden is a great place to really improve your wellbeing and in this article I’ll go through some of the techniques the Japanese incorporate to improve the mind and body.
Japanese Gardens — Basic Design Principles
In Western garden design most areas of the garden tend to be quite strictly designed. In a Japanese garden a little improvisation is preferred and if you are working from a design allow yourself to change the plan if it looks and feels right. A Western garden is admired for its construction, colours and plantings.
A Japanese garden is about reproducing and symbolising the outside world but making it look as though human involvement is not evident — it is disguised.
Western gardens are symmetrical whilst Japanese gardens are asymmetrical with plants and trees presented in a rustic or rugged way. Many types of Japanese gardens will have flowers, trees and fruits that reflect the seasons and the gardens natural relationship to the space that it is in.
The Japanese have a love affair with nature and it is natural that this passion has been reflected in their gardens for hundreds of years. Some of the earliest gardens discovered date back to the 7th century with mini mountains and bodies of water.
The Shinto Japanese Religion teaches that the world and everything in it is influenced by nature’s creative forces. The ‘borrowing’ of distant scenery into a Japanese garden demonstrates this homage to the forces of creation.
This is called Shakkei in Japanese. A golden rule of Japanese gardening is requiring the designer to sense what works and what looks good, so if you wish to copy a landscape that you like in a Japanese garden style, you will need to either have a good memory or make use of a camera or video recorder to capture the landscape that you wish to copy in miniature.
Japanese gardens require a quiet area as their essence is contemplation, reflection and even meditation.
This serene feeling is a major factor in why so many people want to add a touch of Japan to their gardens or yards. Reflecting reality is an important principle in a Japanese garden and a great example would be a ‘Zen’ style garden with its large raked areas of gravel which depict the sea or a body of water populated by a small number of rocks or larger stones that depict mountains and in some cases land mass like islands.
Japanese gardens NEVER try and create a feature that is not present within nature — a Western garden takes natural elements and rearranges them into unnatural structures or areas.
The most popular types of designs for domestic Japanese gardens are Zen gardens or Japanese rock gardens, Tea Gardens, and Hill and Pond Gardens. Japanese gardens are often spiritual and really help us to harness the benefits of nature. It’s something we could try to improve the mind and body gardening. Often our gardens are too rigid and lack a natural look, hopefully this article is a reminder to loosen things up a little.