There must be a deep philosophical meaning behind the garden ?
During the middle of the 11th century the first book on how to create the garden for the mansion of the aristocracy named “Sakuteiki” was written and even now this book is observed as a very important for getting the idea of the gardens.
Typical Japanese garden is consisted of three things : water, rocks, pine trees.
They are arranged in the perfect balance.
If you add just one more tree, or if you take out one small rock, you might completely spoil the garden.
Also mountains can be seen behind the garden make an important role : we can feel the garden expands unlimitedly to the nature.
In this sense Kyoto surrounded by the mountains three sides is very ideal place for creating the gardens.
I guess that is one of the important reasons there is a regulation on the height of the buildings here.
Kinkaku-ji garden ( garden of Golden Pavilion ) is worth visiting.
This is designed to be appreciated by strolling around the pond which ocupies most part of the garden.
From the every step you make you can find more and different beautiful view.
By the water there stands a three storied elegant buildeing of which two top stories are covered with 22 karat of gold leaf.
On the top of the roof alighted a bird named ” ho-o” which is said to be seen only when the world is peace under the rule by the great saintly virtuous king.
When looking at the Golden Pavilion and the pine trees are reflected on the placid water we sometimes wonder which one is real.
Traditional gardens like this there are some islands arranged.
The main island is named ” Ho-rai” : according to the Chinese legend this island is located far away east ocean and those who live on this island obtained very special magical power of for example never getting aged and of eternal life.
Those who have the power in this life, like Shogun named Ashikaga Yoshimitsu who made this Golden Pavilion as his guest house toward the end of the 14th century, want the life like this continue forever.
With the same idea there are small islands in the pond named “kame-jima” ( turtle island ) and “Tsuru-jima” ( crane island ) : those are used as a symbol of eternal life : turtle is supposed to live 10000 years and bird crane 1000 years !
However those detail explanatins are unnecessaryand actually disturb you.
Only thing I recommend you is just walk in the garden and appreciate this legacy from old Japan..
Zen Buddhism is one of the many things I can not understand at all.
As far as I think now Zen is a way to renounce every bit of things till only the core of self remains, or even this self must be renounced. Then there left unwavering spirit remains in unwavering peace.
In Kyoto there are many so-called Zen Garden, among them the garden of Ryoan-ji must be the most famous : some other zen temples must have different opinions, but I am sure they are not bothered bysuch a trifle argument.
By renouncing every thing from the traditinal typical Japanese gardens there left some stones on the gravels.
Actually 15 pieaces of rocks are arrenged in five groups on a rectangular shaped ground with gravels meticulously lined with a bamboo rake and walled by beautifully aged clay, mixed with vegetable oil.
Some say 5 groups of rock s represent the peaks of 5 famous mountains in China above the cloud symbolized by the lined gravels : others say 5 groups of rocks represents the islands in the ocean which is symbolized by the lined gravels.
Then every guide says to the group ” try to count how many stones on the graveled ground !” Then some nice people eagerly start counting…one, two,three…….None of them can count 15 stones from one spot on the floor, one or two stones are always hidden behind another stone. Then the guide says this is the teaching of Buddha : we have to be contented with what we are given even if it is not perfect like a full moon which is represented by the number 15 in China.
I forget to mention that this garden is laid out in front of the main hall of the temple, and main rooms and the wooden floor are seperated by ” sho-ji”, sliding doors made of paper with wooden flames.
That means you take off your shoes to walk into the main hall and sit on the wooden floor quietly facing the garden.
Please don’t pay any attention to the guide talking, and voice counting one, two …
Just sit on the floor and be relaxed. Sometimes I feel I am happy, sometimes I feel I am really happy.
The approach to the main hall goes through the almost one thousand year old garden once belonged to the Emperor and sorounding mountains are reflected on the calm water, some trees are so old to stand by themselves that gardeners carefully supporting them by wooden pops and give them some injections; might be some vitamins?
Some say ” I prefer this area to the Stone garden” : I start to like them.
The streets in Kyoto are designed grid pattern.
Usually houses are built without any space from the street and facades are rather narrow, but comparatively deep.
Open the door there is a narrow floor through to the end of the main house, then open space where they make gardens.
Tiny but trees are carefully maintained by a professional gardeners.
Behind the garden there often is a warehouse with thick wall made of clay and plastered.
The air can circulate through the house to the garden which can help a lot.
If they have no inner garden they don’t waste even 20 centimeter space in front of the house.
Even a ceramic or stone made water basin can be a garden with only a few flowers.
many plastic pots make naarrow street narower but nobody complains.
She really loves roses
Most apartment houses have veranda.
Mine is mesured 7 meter times 1 meter. I don’t know how many pots in there. So far I had complain 5 times from the neighber living one floor down from my place. Like berries drop, leaves drop, water drop, soil drop….. I am sure she has a right to do so. I feel very sorry for her.
Every body really likes gardens all over the world.
For you, who would like to travel in Kyoto,
Johnnie Hillwalker’s Kyoto tour
Kyoto Private guide, Shihoko Hirooka, Guide in Kyoto