All things Oriental . . . A glimpse of Pan Pacific Design Elements

Zen Gardens

Japanese rock gardens have become known in the West as Zen gardens. The term was probably first used in 1935 by the American writer Loraine Kuck in her book “100 Gardens of Kyoto.” It has since also found its way into the Japanese language (“Zen Niwa being the name in Japanese).
The Zen garden has an impressive and lengthy history of use in Japan. The most famous is the dry garden, which is called a “Karesansui.” This word translates into “Dry Mountain and Water Garden” and to create the look, rocks and gravel are used representing the sea or ocean instead of water. It will be carefully raked to create the vision of waves on the 'waters' surface. The rocks themselves represent islands or rock formations jutting out from the water. The overall goal is to create a small-scale recreation of a view of a beautiful coastal scene.

This style of garden is created with balance of of both natural and man-made elements.
It is a place to go that takes away the stress of daily life, and lets you relax - enjoying peaceful contemplation.
One may rake and re-rake the sand and gravel into new patterns to simulate the changes that oceans go through. Likewise, our lives experience similar changes, meaning that the physical act of raking will become the vehicle of meditation and the careful consideration of the pattern one creates is based on ones feelings on that day. This simple and peaceful act of raking - helps one to focus.

  • It takes careful planning and design insight to create tranquility in a busy world. 
  • Without planning, a Zen garden can look contrived and out of balance. 
  • Consider whether or not this kind of garden will be in conflict within its surroundings?  

Because a Zen garden is based upon a simple style, and strong character, it may be best to separate it from the rest of the garden with a wall or fence. One of the primary differences between a Zen garden and other Oriental Style gardens is that Zen gardens do not have many if any living elements in them.  Although grass may sometimes be included, no other plant or flower species will be found in a classic Zen garden. This can be both unusual and exotically appealing to people with no past experience with the history and meaning of a Zen garden.



http://www.monrovia.com/design-inspiration/zen/ Ortho Books. Creating Japanese Gardens. The Scotts Company. 1989.
Sawano, Takashi. Creating Your Own Japanese Garden. Shufunotomo Co., Ltd. Tokyo, Japan. 1999.

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