Zen Gardens: A Brief History Of A Cultural Gardening Status

Japanese rock gardens, Karesansui, Shinzen-no Teien or Kanso-no Teien are all the names for what is known as a "Zen Garden". Naturally coming from the Japanese culture, Zen Gardens have a deep story that usually connects to Buddhism's culture, social activities and mental health. Let's break down how to easily create one, listing all the main historical facts that led us from Kyoto in the 15th-century Ryoan-Ji Empire to our present.

An Algorithmic Research

Since when they were discovered, Zen Gardens intrigued many for their design: "What is the purpose of these stones?" was the main question. In 2002, a team over at Kyoto's University was able to decipher the patterns that are used since the 15th century, saying that, combining the shadows of the above-mentioned stones, it's possible to see the shape of a tree, which is supposed to represent the Tree of Life, many times mentioned in the Buddhism's culture.

Building A Zen Garden: The Process Is Everything

Finishing a Zen Garden is not the objective: in fact, the culture behind Karesansui states that "building an artefact is the starting process in building your soul, " which is why attention to detail and focus on the overall picture is the most important part when it comes to Japanese Zen Gardens. Shinzen-No Teien have been used in many temples, in fact, in order to clarify the peace of mind and overall sense of order that the guest will find within the place. Another core element of these gardens is the fact that only minimalistic furniture like cane furniture is allowed, to boost the space's Feng Shui.

How To Arrange The Rocks

Following the first known manual of Japanese gardening, also known as Sakuteiki, "To create a garden" is described as "placing stones," Ishi Wo Tateru Koto; literally, the "act of setting stones upright."



The patterns are multiple and every single one of these represents a different shape. What separates a garden from another one are the materials and the stones' origin. For example, volcanic rocks must follow a certain pattern, because of the fact that they are associated with earth, one of the 5 core elements of nature (Earth, Water, Fire, Metal and Wind). You can create a rock garden similar to the Ryoan-ji one if you have a minimalistic approach. On the other hand, you can build one with multiple rocks of various shapes and sizes if you want it to appear more artistic and explicit like the Daisen-in garden. There is no right or wrong, once you understood all the core principles of the Zen art.

About the author Vicky Layton:

Vicky Layton

Hi! My name is Vicky, I'm an interior designer, running enthusiast and occasional model. Fashion and design are and will always be my passions and I also love sports. I am currently doing an internship but I would love to open my showroom soon!