This article throws light upon the top three types of Japanese gardens. The types are: 1. Hill gardens 2. Tea Gardens 3. Flat Gardens.
Type # 1. Hill Gardens:
In Japanese language they are called as Tsukiyama Sansui which means hill and water because main features of such gardens are hills, streams and ponds along with other features. There are 3 to 5 hillocks. Hill-1 forms the central feature. It should be bigger in size and should have broad views; hill-2 is employed as companion to No. 1, since it is adjacent and is somewhat lower and of secondary importance.
Hill-3 is opposite side to No. 1. It represents lower hill. Hill-4 is small but elegantly introduced in the foreground of Hill-2. Hill-5 is placed in the remotest part of the garden visible from side of hill. Lake or lake lets are automatically formed. Different islands are made because hills, lakes and islands are complementary beauties.
There are generally three islands viz:
(1) Master island,
(2) Guest island which are connected with a bridge and
(3) Central island.
Different stones are used to beautify surroundings. These stones represent different symbols like natural, mood, idea, spiritual and melodic symbols. There are five distinct shapes recognized for stones which are employed in the garden.
(1) Statue Stone:
It is a tall vertical stone bulging out towards middle and finishing conically at the top.
(2) Low Vertical Stone:
It is a short vertical stone which is rounded at the base and finishing in irregular blunted one. It resembles to bud of a magnolia.
(3) Flat Stone:
It is a low broad stone of irregular shape and has a flat top. It is little higher than ordinary stepping stone.
(4) Recumbent or Ox Stone:
It resembles trunk of a recumbent animal. It is a long curved and bent boulder, rising higher at one end than other.
(5) Arching Stone:
It is medium in height, with broad flat top and bent over to one side forming an arch like structure. The arrangement of these stones is done in composition comprising of two, triple or quintuple combination. Such compositions have different meanings when these are fixed at different places. For example, long life stone—three stones placed together on the edge of a beach.
Good luck or death stone—two stones used on the banks of lake. Water gate stone—making outlet of a lake. In hill gardens the important rocks or stones used are about ten in number and fixed at specified places.
Stone-1 is called as Guardian stone. It is a high standing stone which occupies the most central position of background.
It is a companion of stone 1 and is placed opposite of the fall.
It is broad and flat and is called worshipping stone. It is placed in the foreground and in the center of the island.
It is placed near the foreground and at one side of the garden. It is flat and broad based. It is called as interviewing stone or shoe removing stone.
It is placed on opposite side of the garden to stone 4. It is called as waiting stone.
It is called as Moon shadow stone which occupies an important position and placed between two hills.
It is called as cave stone and is standing stone which is similar to guardian stone and placed near central group of trees.
Seat of honour stone.
It is called pedestal stone and is the first stepping stone.
It is called as Idling stone which consists of a pair of stones. Stones are broad, low and round.
These are the natural stones which are placed in zigzag pathway. These are arranged in two, three or sometimes four. While fixing these, regularity is avoided. The distance between two is kept about 10 cm and intermediate spaces are kept clean.
The selection of suitable trees and planting at fixed places play a major role in gardens. The trees have been given specific names because they are planted with certain objectives.
These trees are:
(1) Principal tree:
It is a tree or group of trees planted in central part of background. These are surrounded by other trees which differ in foliage character.
(2) View perfecting tree:
It is planted in foreground on island. It adds beauty in lake scenery.
(3) Tree of Soltitude:
It is a tree or group of trees of thick foliage in the background on one side.
(4) Cascade Screening Tree:
It is a group of bushes or leafy tree (Bamboos) planted at the side of waterfall to hide of the portion of it.
(5) Tree of setting sun:
It is planted in west side to check the glare of setting sun.
(6) Distancing pine:
These are planted to give a forest type look.
Water is the life of garden and a necessary feature of Japanese gardens. It may be present in the form of big lakes or symbolically in the form of water basins. In hill gardens, water is mostly present in the form of lakes but it may be in the form of natural stream or river. The standing water may be in the shape of round, square, crescent shape, running water shape, etc.
In the tea gardens and flat gardens, water is present in the form of basins or wells. The size and shape of basins are of many types. It is proportionate to the surrounding buildings. Different shapes are ‘Square’ shape, ‘Round Star’ shape, ‘Four God’ shape, ‘Bubble’ shape, ‘Genkai’ shape, ‘Stone Battle’ shape. ‘Mt Fuji’ shapes, etc. Near the basin wooden ladel is also kept to use the water for rinsing or drinking. Rustic well of wood or stone wall may be present. The wall may be rough or smooth. These wells are complete with lever, rope, bucket, pulley, etc.
From very old time, the paved approaches or courts of Buddhist temples were decorated with lanterns made up of stone or bronze. These lanterns were presented on the eve of festivals. The height of lanterns varies from 6-18′ and .are arranged singly or in combination with trees, shrubs or water basis. It is according to scale and character of building.
These lanterns are of mainly two types i.e. Standard and legged type. Standard lanterns have cylindrical standard whereas legged type may have three, four or six legs over which the main lantern is fixed. There are hanging type lanterns too. In past these were used to be made up of brass but now-a-days lanterns made of papers are used frequently. These are hanged by a chain in verandah, house, or tea rooms.
It is an ornament in Japanese garden which is purely decorative. It may be in the form of stone tower or pagoda. These pagodas may be standard type or legged type and have three, five or seven, nine or eleven separate roofs.
There are many kinds of bridges in Japanese gardens which are used to connect different islands. In old days they were made up of wood and stone but now-a-days iron bridges are more common. The shape and size varies according to width. Mostly single stone or plank was used to make bridges.
In many cases many pieces have been used artistically to make a bridge e.g. Yatsuhashi Bridge was made in Iris field by uniting wooden planks in zigzag manner. These planks were supported on wooden support in mud. Mostly garden bridges are arch shaped. Other types of bridges are ‘Wooden Trestle’ bridge, ‘Peeping’ bridge, ‘Granite Slate’ bridge, ‘Curved bracket’ bridge, ‘Chinese Full Moon’ bridge, etc.
Type # 2. Tea Gardens:
A garden attached to tea house is called as Tea garden. The tea ceremony was started in China in 6th century by Buddhist monk Luwuh, who formulated a code of conduct of tea ceremony. The tea was served to monks who took it as medicine which helped in meditation.
The tea gardens are divided into three sections. The outer section is called as Sotoroji. There is waiting place called as Machi ai and visitors wait here before entering tea room. The inner section is called as Uchiro ji. The guests or samurais when visited a tea garden for religious discourse or advice, used to wait at the waiting place and remove their shoes and swords.
At waiting place there is a sword rack and stepping stones arranged in such a way that it facilitates the hanging of swords on the rack. The entrance of tea room consists of low door and guests are obliged to enter in bending postures which indicates humbleness and respect. The host used to enter from another door in the tea room.
The inner garden is made in such a way that it looks extremely simple and natural. Garden objects like stones, lanterns, rocks, water basins are selected which look as antiques. Trees, shrubs and grasses are often arranged in an un-kept manner, so it looks wild. A rustic looking well is an important feature of such gardens. Pathway is made up of stepping stones in meandering circulation, connecting water basin, waiting shed, lavatory and gateway. Wall is covered with hedges which also look natural.
The different stones in tea garden used are:
It is a flat stone suitable for placing the kettle.
It is placed in front of low basin stone.
Sword hanging stone:
These are double stepped stones and are used for hanging swords on sword hanging racks. First stone is used for standing.
Candle stick stone:
It is placed in one corner to be used for keeping lantern or placing candle when ceremonies take place after dusk.
Low basin stone:
It is hollow stone and is filled with water to wash the hands.
Type # 3. Flat Gardens:
These are known as Hira niwa in Japanese language. Such gardens are devoid of hills, streams or ponds. Flat gardens are mostly planned for confined places or for lying-out in front of buildings of secondary importance. Designs mostly adopted are either mount valley type or extensive moor and planting is done accordingly. For mount valley type surrounding should be thickly planted whereas for moor type it should be bare and open.
Other garden ornaments like stones, well, water-basin, tree, etc. are used in such a way that it creates a scenic beauty. The surface of flat garden is covered with raked sand on beaten earth to give an effect of water current of ocean showing appropriate in let and out. In between, stones or boulders are arranged in an artistic manner e.g. Ryoanji temple, Kyoto. The rocks or pebbles are so arranged that they give an effect of diversion or rush of water.
Plant material used in Japanese garden. For meditation green colour is more helpful whereas colourful plants distract mind during meditation and one does not feel peaceful. This is the reason; Japanese gardens are not planted with colourful trees. On the contrary, colourful plants are planted around castles to make these more attractive. Following is the list of plant material which is commonly planted in Japanese gardens.
Pinus desi-flora, Pinus thunbergii, Pinus parui-flora, Pinus karaiensis, Abies barchyphylla, Abies firma, Podocarpus macrophylla, Quercus acuta, Quercus cuspidata, Nandina domestica.
Deciduous trees like:
Maple (Acer parvifolium, etc.). Birch (Betula Alba), Elm (Ulmus montana, Ulmusparviflora), Willow (Salix babylonica), Poplar (Populus tremula), Mulberry (Morus alba) etc.
Amongst flowering trees and shrubs the commonly planted ones are: Cherry (Prunus pseudocerasus); Camellia japonica, Rhododendron, Azalea, Magnolia, Wisteria sinensis, Wisteria Alba, Hydrangea, pomegranate, peach, plum, pear, Quince, etc. Other common flowering plants are Chrysanthemum, Carnations, Irises, Lotus, Peonies, Orchid, Freesia, etc. Different kinds of bamboo like Bambusa nana, B. aurea are commonly planted.