The strange beauty of the Japanese karesansui garden

Coventry was part of the British Cultural City during the year, and a Japanese garden was opened in the city’s War Memorial Park last month. The children of five local primary schools built the garden in September and named it “Peace Islands.”

The Ambassador of Japan to the United Kingdom, Hayashi Hajime, organized an art exhibition in Coventry Cathedral. Children from the schools participating in the garden show and discuss the different types of Japanese culture that culminated in Noah’s play with traditional masks. In the midst of the stone.

The play is set in a fantasy karesansui – Or “dry landscape” – Japanese gardens. Author Janet Cheng, an English poet and former schoolteacher, writes under the theme “From Tragedy to Peace.” “Gardens are islands of peace,” he added.

Appropriately, Coventry Cathedral hosted the annual Hiroshima Day commemoration this month. The city of West Midlands itself was bombed during World War II, and in the years that followed it was associated with peace and reconciliation.

Virtual ‘karesansui’ gardens set Clive Barda / Arena / Pal

They include a wide range of Japanese garden categories tsukiyama (Hilly gardens) and Chania (Tea gardens). Some may show water, others, perhaps, better compacted clay than grass. Karesansui – Sometimes called “Zen” gardens, the classic in Rio de Janeiro Temple in the former capital of Japan, Kyoto – does not seem like everyone’s garden idea. They aim to create a small style landscape. Rocks and stones are bought with gravel, but very few plants.

Japanese gardens “have a strong narrative and a great opportunity to express ideas,” says Robert Ketchel, of Coventry Garden based on children’s ideas. He In 1993, he was a founding member of the Japanese Gardening Association for Japanese Gardeners.

Capitol, fascinated by Eastern philosophy, first visited Japan in 1980. He worked as a trainee for four years under a horticultural teacher in Kyoto – “He opened my eyes to the question of how I can integrate this into a different cultural context.”

In a total area of ​​more than 400 square feet[400 sq m]the children’s garden was paved with gravel to mark 70 percent of the ocean floor. Seven stones of different shapes and sizes represent continents.

Children at work in the early stages of a garden in Coventry

Children at work in the early stages of the garden in Coventry © Gosia Madera

Emphasizing the importance of space between objects, the irregular shape and position of stones in gardens often represent the most popular concept of imperfection beauty in Japan. The attraction is that this always allows space for change and improvement.

In view of the ancient Shinto and Buddhist traditions of Japan, the gardens are often regarded as spiritual places – ideal for resting the ideals needed to stabilize and stimulate the ego.

Stabilizing effect karesansui Gardens are in need of care and maintenance, said Graham Hardman, vice president of JGS and Coventry Garden Project Manager. Cutting their pebbles into straight lines and circles requires meditation, “patience, focus, and the moment.”

The dry landscape “invites you to think about the garden and its surroundings.” Unlike a man with a beautiful flower, he says, he has a better chance of evaluating “his place in relation to him, his place in the world, and nature.”

'Karesansui' or dry landscape garden in the former capital of Japan, Kyoto

“Karansansui” in the former capital of Japan, Kyoto © Sergei Priscilla

It could also be a Japanese concept at work in the gravel area of ​​Coventry Garden mu, “Declaration of emptiness.” It provides a place for meditation. In the school of the children, a bridge was erected between large stones symbolizing the unity of the people.

It is another concept shakkei, “Borrowed landscape” – for example, trees outside the garden are still part of his vision. “In Japan, the garden has been used extensively to give a broader context,” says Hardman. An unwanted area, an old valley or a cluttered parking lot, will be inspected immediately.

The gardens, designed by JGS, include one on the roof of London’s Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital. It is protected by community volunteers and is well used by staff who are “recovering” their vacation, Hardman said. Out of concern for their children’s illness, parents “have been a great help to them as a place to go and meditate.”

Numera Garden at the Great Ormond Hospital

Nomura Garden at Great Ormond Street Hospital in London, designed by the Japanese Charitable Association of the United Kingdom Charity.

In Greater Manchester, the community was responsible for two hospice gardens, one in Prescott and the other in Bure. Hardman designed and built the latter. It is probably 30 to 40 percent gravel, but it is “surrounded by many plants, mainly greenish seasonal.” It aims at “a busy schedule. . . A lot of interest and detail that people in the hospice have been looking at for a long time. ”

One of the happiest moments of her life was when Harman, a widow, came to Bure when she was told that she wanted to die at home. When she saw the garden, she decided to stay in the hospital.

Some of the most popular Japanese gardens in Britain are the Royal National Park in Queu, and the Welsh National Park in Lantani, Karmartshinshi. Both were designed by Masako Fukuhara, an environmental planner at Osaka University. Other works by Fukuhara include the restoration of Edwardian’s Japanese garden at Cheshire Taten Park 20 years ago.

A.D. Launched in 1996, the Japanese garden in Keiw was designed to meet the Kei Chokushi-Mon or the Japanese Gateway. In 1910, the entrance to the Japan-British Exhibition in White City, west London, opened the door to interest in Japanese-style gardens in Britain, resulting in the construction of at least one building. Taton.

Hospice Garden in Prescott, Greater Manchester

Hospice Garden in Prescott, Greater Manchester, Another JGS project, Tony Foster

Located about nine miles east of Karmarton, Lanartney Garden combines traditional tea gardens, hillside gardens, and dry landscapes. A.D. The winner of the first gold medal and the best in show at the Chelsea Flower Show in 2001 was reorganized by the Fukuhara Japanese Gardeners Association and given a permanent foundation in the Welsh Plant Garden, which opened in 2000.

Recently, JGS volunteers have been called upon to assist in garden maintenance and development. Yoko Kawaguchi, a writer and cultural historian who specializes in Japanese-Western relations, discusses planting and cutting.

Born in Tokyo, Kaagucichi has lived in England since 1989 and is now living in Cardiff. She says that the most accurate Japanese cutting art is for a test. “There are many laws and there may be some agreement here. In Japan, you can’t cut without long training. ”

Do gardens reflect common cultural values ​​between Britain and Japan? Kawaguchi remembers many similarities in life in Japan and Britain. Both, for example, are the nations of the island, there are traditions of politeness and privacy, and sometimes the wrong ways to say “yes” – in fact, “no”.

In the case of gardens, the British often seem to run away from them as sanctuaries. “In some respects, British gardens have a sacred quality that is different from everyday life,” says Kechell.

Welsh National Vegetable Garden in Lanland, Karmarthenshire

A Japanese garden in Lannarni, Karmarthin re, designed by Masao Fukuhara © Colin Baglo

Is this similar to Japanese gardens and religious traditions? If you do, you’ll need to be careful about that. With karesansuiShe says, “A lot has been built in Zen Pebble Gardens. But we do not know if the monks thought so us, Or simply the ocean. We do not know if the gardens first represented Zen concepts. We are in danger of putting a backlog on the old metaphor. ”

The British road in the garden is generally in the hands of many people. Gardens focus on plants, they dig, they plant your plants, they have a lot to do with the garden. Whatever the Japanese love and floral art, Ikebana, She says, “In Japan, you start with rocks, not plants. People love stones. ”

In Japan, there is a tendency to call in professionals. She said they did not go for DIY, especially in regular gardens. Kawaguchi mentions the case of her deceased ancestor, a successful businessman. The garden was guarded by a professional gardener, and was laid out in front of the main reception area of ​​the house.

“There was no garden for you to enter into,” she said, adding that one more was left for special days and that you had to respect. “It was a scary place for kids,” she recalls.

It turned out that this was not the case for Coventry School children. On several occasions, they have helped to create a strange beauty karesansui, A place to appreciate the love of stone and nature.

In general, there may be no better place to find peace in the relative stability of the garden to promote the sharing of cultural-transcendental beliefs.

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