Posted on April 10th, 2016 by Artisan Stone
The traditional Japanese garden is an expression of core tenets from Shintoist and Buddhist philosophy. They’re a journey and a landscape as much as they are a static image, and strolling through one you’re bound to see a deliberate, precarious intertwining of rock, sand, running water, and plant life in harmony.
In modern times, the contemporary approach to the Japanese garden maintains the feeling of a journey – there’s still often a storied pathway running along it, for example – but the end goal has transformed into creating a space that is an extension of the house, combining both human and natural elements to form a whole.
Modern Japanese gardens are serene and relaxing, but have an added element of utility to them. They’re designed equally for walking around or to just sit back and allow yourself to drink in the scenery.
There are a number of elements and design principles behind the structure and build of a Japanese garden. These include:
Fossil Grey Quartz – Artisan Stone
Take a look at the garden pictured above, paved in Fossil Grey Quartz. As in all of the pictured gardens, there’s a certain point at which the home and the garden get blurry.
One of the most influential contemporary Japanese architects, Tadao Ando, was massively influenced by the religious art of Zen. He held it as one of his core philosophies that the garden should be clean, elegant, and simplistic, emphasising simple materials such as stone and even concrete to complete the look.
As a part of this, Ando pushed the idea of the combination of human architecture and the natural garden. You’ll notice that in all of our examples the patio juts out onto the garden, often with simple, comfortable garden furniture that could easily be used indoors.
Ando wanted humans to experience the beauty of the natural world and the beauty of human architecture together. He thought that human design influenced how we saw nature and the garden, and his school of design created gardens that framed nature for viewing in a deliberate way.
Cultivating a Japanese garden is an aspirational process. It takes time and commitment to plan, but is unsurpassed in beauty as to how it can turn out. Textured, flat surfaces such as stone (or a stone substitute) work wonders for paving – the Japanese are very fond of dark pavers as a human contrast against lighter, natural tones – while just about anything in the correct measure can be used for plants.
Be wary of making your garden too crowded and noisy. Focal pieces should be distinctive, but not take up too much of the eye. Simple flower or tree arrangements and cultured hedges are a good fit, as are ponds, rock formations, and interwoven geometric patterns.
There are many ways to get the flow of natural and human going, but pay special attention to the entrance to the garden (which most people don’t immediately think of as very important). Note how in the above and below examples the glass panelling leads straight onto the yard proper, which in turn continues onto the grass, with no break. The garden should feel almost like another lived space.