Asian Zen Garden
The Zen garden is an important part of Japanese culture. Dating back to the early 6th century, the Buddhist monks created meditation spaces out of sand and rocks. Later the gardens transitioned to be enjoyed by Warlords, Emperors and Aristocrats moving from meditation to aesthetic pleasure. During the 17th century gardens peaked in their use for tea ceremonies. Then in the following Edo period, gardens departed from minimalism as the ruling class redesigned the gardens for extravagance and recreation. Current gardens from the 19th century to date entered the age of modernization and have become private and public strolling gardens.
The typical elements designated in a Zen Garden include:
- Water or simulation of water
- Paths and bridges
- Sensory elements
- Simplicity and asymmetry
The purpose of a Zen garden is to help quiet and focus your mind, awaken the senses and make the viewer more attune to nature. Each element of a Zen garden holds symbolism.
Bamboo - strength, growth and living a straightforward life.
Azaleas - femininity, remembrance of home, elegance and wealth.
Japanese Maples - a symbol of grace personified, balance, calm and at peace.
Weeping Cedar - humility.
Water contributes to the expression of nature and symbolizes renewal, calm, wonder and continuity in the hereafter.
Stones are a symbol of duration and omnipresence of the forces of nature and anchor the garden.
Paths represent the journey to enlightenment, leading to new opportunities as well as leads the eye to other areas of the garden sparking exploration.
Bridges symbolize life changes, transition.
Lanterns represent love, purity, brightness and protection from evil. There are four pieces to a typical Japanese lantern.
- The top adornment is called the Jewel
- The roof or umbrella
- The light compartment
- The post or pedestal
Toriis are traditional Japanese gates found at the entrance of temples, where it symbolically marks the transition from the secular to the sacred or the mundane to the divine.