SEATTLE JAPANESE GARDEN T - Arboretum Foundation

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SEATTLE JAPANESE GARDENDesignedin theStroll-GardenStyleBy Corinne KennedyABOVE: The Japanese Garden, with ameandering path around its central pond.(Photo by Fr.Ted/Wikimedia Commons)The Japanese Garden at Washington Park Arboretumwas designed as a stroll garden, a style that dates fromthe early years of Japan’s Edo period (1603–1868).Large in scale and created for enjoyment, the stroll gardenfeatures a central pond surrounded by a meandering path andoften incorporates a teahouse. The modern Japanese term for itis kaiyūshiki teien, translated as “excursion-style garden.”Various garden styles preceded it. Large hill-and-pondgardens (sansui) were built by the Japanese aristocracy fromthe 8th to the 11th centuries. Viewed from pleasure boats andlarge buildings, these included large ponds and high hills,created to represent oceans and mountains.The 13th century and the rise of Zen Buddhism saw thedevelopment of austere, relatively small hardscape gardens(kare-sansui) consisting of stones, raked gravel, and few or noplants. Sometimes called “Zen gardens,” these dry-landscapedisplays were designed for contemplation and meditation.Visitors viewed them from an adjoining veranda instead ofexperiencing them from within.Summer 2020 v 3

The stroll garden at Katsura Imperial Villa, Kyoto—an inspiration for our Japanese Garden.(Photo by John Chang/Wikimedia Commons)THE TEA GARDENIn the Momoyama period (1573–1603), teamaster Sen no Rikyu refined the tea ceremonyinto a ritual of harmony, respect, purity andtranquility known as chado, “the Way of Tea.”Matcha tea, a green powder whisked into hotwater, had been brought from China to Japan inthe late 12th century. Initially used in religiousrituals, it later became associated with extravagant parties. By the late 16th century, however,the tea ceremony had been distilled into a ritualdefined by the Zen aesthetic of wabi-sabi, whichfound beauty in quiet humility, rustic simplicity, imperfection and change—and even in theprocesses of aging and decay.Simple in design and materials, the tea garden(roji)—and the teahouse itself—embody thisaesthetic. The tea garden is an enclosed spacewith restrained plantings (primarily evergreens)and moss covering the ground. A stepping-stonepath, representing a mountain trail, leads to theteahouse. Before the tea ceremony begins, thetea master sprinkles water over the garden—hence the word roji, which means “dewy path.”4 v Washington Park Arboretum BulletinGuests move through outer and inner gardens tothe teahouse, leaving behind the everyday worldto participate in the ceremony’s spiritual andethical essence.THE STROLL GARDENStroll gardens were built beginning in the early1600s, during a period of peace and prosperity. Like tea gardens, they were designed to beexperienced from within. Although travel duringthat time was greatly restricted, nobles andprovincial lords (daimyo) owned large propertiesand were permitted to design their own gardens.Reflecting their owners’ interest in aestheticsrather than religion, these gardens were magnificent, more colorful than earlier styles, andcreated for enjoyment. They were designed to beexperienced as journeys past scenes from nature,literature and art. Most contained or evolvedfrom the much smaller tea garden—a core ofsimplicity within the garden’s splendor.In the stroll garden, visitors walk slowly pasta succession of views and landscape elements,including those characteristic of earlier

TOP: The more formal northern area of our garden,with pond and wisteria arbor. A fishing village withharbor lantern is on the right, and an azumaya shelteris in the distance. (Photo by Aurora Santiago)BOTTOM: The teahouse and its inner garden, or roji.With the green simplicity of its moss and other plantings, the roji exemplifies Jūki Iida’s naturalistic designs.(Photo by Aurora Santiago)styles—ponds, streams, waterfalls, islands,lanterns, stepping-stones, bridges, teahousesand other structures. It has been describedas “a sequential garden whose almost limitless succession of views was revealed throughmovement like a great drama whose scenesunfolded only through time.” 1It has also been described as a kind of“mute music, with its own special rhythms andvariations.” 2OUR SEATTLE JAPANESE GARDENOur garden’s design was a gift from theTokyo Metropolitan Green Spaces Division.Renowned landscape architect Jūki Iida waschosen to supervise its construction. In all,seven Japanese designers—including Iida andKiyoshi Inoshita, who produced the originaldesign concept—collaborated to developdetailed plans. Charged with developing anauthentic Japanese garden outside of Japan,they described their design as having beeninfluenced by several notable Japanese strollgardens—including the earliest one extant,Katsura Imperial Villa (Katsura Rikyu).Iida’s contribution to the design was thenaturalistic and informal southern section ofthe Garden, especially the wooded mountainarea with its waterfall, cascade, and plantings of mixed deciduous and evergreentrees. The Garden’s more formal northernarea, including the fishing village and wisteria arbor, was likely designed by Inoshita.The most powerful design device usedin stroll gardens is arguably the garden path,which winds past various landscape elementsand vistas. In the Seattle Japanese Garden,we journey through the varied landscapes ofJapan—mountains, forests, waterfalls, rivers,islands and the sea. Our experience is shapedby the aesthetic principle of mie gakure (usuallytranslated as “hide and reveal”), which ensuresthat we experience the garden sequentially ratherthan all at once. Along the way, we encounter thewater, stones, plants, animals and structurescommon to many Japanese garden styles. Theelements and viewpoints are concealed and thengradually revealed.VARIED LANDSCAPES OF OUR GARDENAs we pass through the Garden’s southern courtyard and entry gate, we enter an area of mixedSummer 2020 v 5

The stones that formthe mountain area’swaterfall, includingits largest and mostimportant eight-tonstone. With time,they have developedtraceries of moss.(Photo byCorinne Kennedy)forest. Plants native to Japan—such as pines,maples, camellias, bamboo and moss—predominate, but Pacific Northwest native plants areincluded as well. East of the path is a dry streambed flowing through open woodlands. Wherethe way forks, we take the eastern path (movingcounterclockwise through the Garden) and passby three tall ginkgo trees. Then, the vista opensto our first expansive view of the Garden and itscentral pond.Ahead is the Garden’s original (eastern) entrygate, the central island with its two bridges bisecting the pond, and a moon-viewing platform onthe other side. Also revealed is the northern endof the garden, with its port village. On our waythere, we pass by the wisteria arbor, where waterfrom the pond flows out of the Garden. The cutstone dock and paths reveal the formal and humanelement that characterizes this harbor area.A seven-foot stone wall behind the villagehints of mountain foothills. Above it, a long rowof sculpted azalea—a wave of bright-pink flowersin spring—symbolizes ocean waves or mountainranges. Benches with expansive garden views arebacked by a pine-covered slope.Leaving behind the port village and thegarden’s northern end, we pass a densely forestedarea of broadleaf evergreens before arriving atthe azumaya, an open-sided wooden shelter forrest and reflection. Situated at the top of a rise,it provides a beautiful view of the Garden and6 v Washington Park Arboretum BulletinThe view just insidethe main, southernentrance, with mostof the Garden hiddenfrom view. (Photo byCorinne Kennedy)its orchard of flowering cherry, crabapple andplum. Pausing here, we appreciate the borrowedscenery (shakkei) of the larger Arboretum beyond.At the pond’s southwestern edge is the roji,a tranquil refuge defined by its many shades ofgreen. A mixed hedge of boxwood, cedar, pierisand evergreen huckleberry surrounds it, prunedin an open style suggestive of the mie gakureaesthetic. Participants in the tea ceremony gatherin a small waiting station (machiai) in the outergarden, before being led to the teahouse—a rusticvilla known as “Arbor of the Murmuring Pines”(Shoseian). Nearby is the mountain—our Garden’sfinal and most naturalistic section, and the areamost reminiscent of the landscapes of Japan.Except for its flat, highly populated coastalareas, Japan’s landscape is dominated by rocky,forested mountains and swift streams cascading down from waterfalls. Our own mountain—densely planted with maples and other trees,both deciduous and evergreen—contains amonumental waterfall, its primary stone an eightton boulder. Higher up is an eleven-story stonepagoda, symbolizing a mountain monastery.Here, the elements of water, plants and large,moss-covered stones come together to form oneof the Garden’s most powerful features.From the mountain area, we pass downhillto end our journey in the open woodlands of itsbeginning, where most of the Garden is againhidden from view. Here, and throughout the

Garden, the “hide and reveal” technique helpsus to see what is immediately before us, invitingus to experience the space slowly and mindfully.My hope is that each visitor’s journey evolves intoa personal dialogue with our unfolding, everchanging Garden.Corinne Kennedy is a retired garden designer,Seattle Japanese Garden guide, Elisabeth C.Miller Library volunteer, and member of the“Bulletin” Editorial Board. She’s also a frequentcontributor to the Japanese Garden’s blog.REFERENCES“A Guide to the Gardens of Kyoto,” by Marc Treib and Ron Herman. 1980. Kodansha USA“The Gardens of Japan,” by Teiji Itoh. 1984. Kodansha USAThe Power of StoneStone is essential to Japanese gardens—arguablymore important than any other garden element.Shinto, Japan’s indigenous religion, saw gods(kami) in all of nature, residing in stones as wellas plants and animals.Similarly, visitors to the Seattle JapaneseGarden experience the structure, power andenergy that stone brings to the landscape. Usedboth symbolically, and for practical purposes,stones represent mountains, waterfalls, streams,islands and other elements of nature. Importantgarden ornaments, such as lanterns and aneleven-story tower, are made of stone.A moss-covered stone lantern, overlooking the pond.(Photo by David Rosen/Slick Pix Photography)Stones are also essential to the Garden’sconstruction, maintenance and renovation.Used to create paths and stairs, they also holdback the soil behind the fishing village, andat the edges of the pond. Varying in size, shape,color, texture and use, stones are nonetheless aunifying aesthetic element.The photo above shows a moss-coveredlantern overlooking the pond. Together withthe stone it rests upon, it unites water, plantand stone. Yet even this small detail, like theGarden’s monumental waterfall, embodies thebeauty and power we experience as we journeythrough the Garden. mSummer 2020 v 7

SEATTLE JAPANESE GARDEN Designed in the Stroll-Garden Style B y C o r i n n e K e n n e d y T he Japanese Garden at Washington Park Arboretum was designed as a stroll garden, a style that dates from the early years of Japan's Edo period (1603-1868). Large in scale and created for enjoyment, the stroll garden

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