May. 10, 2018 UPDATE
Cleanse your mind and body at the Japanese gardens of Kyoto!
Let’s take a look at Japanese gardens! The different garden styles explained!
There are many temples in Kyoto, which are of course visited by both domestic and international tourists. And many of these temples have gardens, which are also a big attraction, and a place where you can easily relax a bit while sightseeing. Japanese gardens are usually divided into three different categories, chisen, karesansui, and roji. They’re all different, and the way you enjoy a garden can also be categorized into three different styles: viewing-gardens, strolling gardens, and shuyu-shiki-gardens. And now I’m going to tell you what these terms mean! So let’s take a look at the many beautiful gardens of Kyoto!
Chisen gardens have a pond in the middle and make the scenery in the garden look like it was formed by nature. This was the main style of gardens in Nara (710-794), Heian (794-1185), and Kamakura (1185-1333) periods. There are three ways to enjoy a chisen garden:
Chisen kansho-shiki (Jisso-in Temple)The specialty of chisen kansho-shiki is that you can sit down on a tatami mat, and just leisurely look at the wonderful natural scene of the pond and the greenery in front of you and slowly take it all in.
Chisen kaiyu-shiki (Sanzen-in Temple)The way to enjoy a chisen kaiyu-shiki temple is to walk on a path through the garden and enjoy the different views. While walking, you will often see signs in Japanese marking the way you should walk, and while they usually are in Japanese with the Chinese characters for “Suggested route (Junro, 順路)” written on them, they often are also in the shape of an arrow.
Chisen shuyu-shiki (Byodo-in Temple’s Phoenix Hall)Chisen shuyu-shiki gardens can be enjoyed on a boat, so you don’t need to walk around the garden. This garden style was popular among the Imperial family and court nobles of the Heian period, but after the Heian period, these gardens gradually went out of style.
Karensansui gardens are rock gardens formed by small pebbles, bigger rocks, and sometimes also moss. Karesansui gardens don’t have ponds, or water for that matter, for the flow of water is accomplished by the white pebbles. Karesansui gardens began to grow in popularity in the Muromachi period (1336-1573), especially after a shogun from the Ashikaga clan expressed his fondness for this style.
Roji gardens are also called tearoom gardens, as they’re located by a tearoom, and they became popular during the Azuchi-Momoyama (1573-1603) and Edo (1603-1868) periods when tea ceremony itself was also gaining popularity.
These are the types of Japanese gardens you’ll most often run into, so I’m sure that you’re now ready to book your flight to Kyoto. In the next part, you’ll get to know more about the chisen gardens of Kyoto!