Image Source. As places of quiet contemplation and reflection, Japanese Zen gardens seem the perfect counterbalance to the stresses of an always-on, hyper-connected existence. While a number of universities have Zen Gardens , in the U. Their counterparts in Japan continue to be associated with religious temples, as they have for more than a millennium. During the 14th century, Classical Zen gardens that were created in Rinzai Zen Buddhist temples began to showcase a simpler style incorporating large boulders and painstakingly groomed gravel. These rock gardens, also known as dry landscape gardens or karesansui contain elements that are intended to represent larger landscapes and inspire meditation and contemplation.
The 25 Most Inspiring Japanese Zen Gardens | Best Choice Schools
Originated in Japan, the Zen rock garden defies the definition of a "garden" in almost every conventional sense. It isn't a place to find rows of lush trees, an ornate gazebo, or a pond filled with beautiful fish. There is no field of green grass but sand, gravel, and sparse scattering of moss and nondescript shrubs. Nor is there much contrast in colors, as flowers are nowhere to be seen. Before learning how you may design and create a rock garden of your own, it's crucial to understand how this unique landscaping style has come to be and what fundamental philosophy is behind its creation. To understand the evolution of the Zen rock garden, we first need to look back to the fifth century when Chinese Taoism started to make an imprint on Japanese art. It is an ancient Taoist belief that somewhere in the middle of the ocean, there are three or five islands where immortals dwell.
A Japanese Zen garden is conceived and created from the meditative inspiration of the gardener, and contemplating one is a doorway to meditation for the viewer. While no rule exists against including plants and water features, many gardens omit them entirely and construct the garden from rocks and gravel to evoke emptiness through abstraction. The Japanese term for a Zen garden that uses only rocks and gravel is "karesansui," which means "dry landscape. Despite its simple construction, a Zen garden requires maintenance to keep the raked lines crisp and to control vegetation that may grow through the gravel. This becomes a daily meditation practice for the gardener.
Classical zen gardens were created at temples of Zen Buddhism in Kyoto during the Muromachi period. They were intended to imitate the intimate essence of nature, not its actual appearance, and to serve as an aid to meditation about the true meaning of existence. Stone gardens existed in Japan at least since the Heian period —