Contemporary dry Japanese gardens: Shinnyo-do

October 1st, 2015 - 

zen gardens

Japanese dry gardens, more accurately named karesansui are, perhaps, the most conceptualized, abstract forms of landscape design there is. It takes the garden close to a work of sculpture, investing profound cultural meaning in each and every element, shape to be found.

Karesansui gardens, or zen gardens or Buddhist gardens represent a miniature landscape thoroughly composed from rocks, water features, moss, pruned trees and bushes, and using gravel or sand that is raked to represent ripples in water; they are meant for contemplation, meditation.

Even if they appeared around year 1000 there are still in place and still new compositions – with their inherent contemporary touch – are being made nowadays (fact worth mentioning, as compared to Western civilization in which cultural customs, traditions, forms of art rarely pass from one century to another).

Shinnyo-do Temple dry garden is such an example of a centenary design featured maintain and modernized until today (yet as a Westerner who is not specialized in dry gardens, it would be a bit difficult to spot the modern elements). Shinnyo-do Temple is set in Kyoto, close to the more famous Ginkaku-ji (the Silver Pavilion) and it originates in 984.

However, like some other similar temples, it was destroyed during the Onin War (1467 – 1477) and rebuilt 200 years later.

In the temple, there are 2 large paintings displayed every six month: one shows the passing of Buddha, while the other is a mandala depicting the Pure Land Buddhism.

The dry garden represents precisely the painting of the passing of Buddha, through the geometrically arrange patterns of different colors, shapes and natural elements.

For an abstract, karesansui garden the garden here is quite diverse and rich in elements and plants – fact which also backs up the contemporaneity of the garden as well as the meaning behind it (hence, Buddha being depicted in all forms).

The landscape architect who designed this garden is Chisao Shigemori, who also happens to be the grandchild of famous garden designer, Mirei Shigemori.

via here.



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