Thursday, June 1, 2017


By Cathy

Come take a stroll with me through a lovely Japanese garden where we'll find tranquility in the midst of a busy world. Our stroll will be serene, gentle, meditative, and natural. Japanese gardens bring together aspects of nature in harmonious landscaping.

The garden we’re strolling through is a promenade garden which is meant to be seen one landscape at a time. Think about a scroll of painted landscapes. As you slowly unroll the scroll more beauty is revealed. The pathways through the garden lead us from one landscape to another and beckon us to explore around the corner. Along the pathways we cross bridges which symbolize the path to paradise and immortality.

We want to be sure and cross the zigzag bridge which is believed to protect us from evil spirits in the garden. The myth says that evil spirits can only travel in a straight line, so the bridge traps them, allowing us to escape to safety.

Each plant and tree in the garden is chosen for its seasonal colors or religious symbolism. Nothing is left to chance. Trees are carefully trimmed to make them look more ancient, to provide beautiful scenes, and to prevent them from blocking other views of the garden. Shade sections rely on subtle color contrast and bold textural differences to create interest.

A rustic tea houses is hidden in its own little garden. Views of the garden are framed in open windows and doors, making the garden and the tea house become one.

Japanese stone lanterns, according to tradition, were added to tea gardens by the first great tea masters. Now most of them are used purely for decoration.

Notice the rocks and stones placed throughout the garden. They are chosen for their age and color creating a sense of balance and strength. A rough, vertical rock may represent a mountain. Smooth flat rocks represent the earth and are often used as stepping stones. Sand and gravel represent a beach or flowing river. Rocks are arranged in careful compositions with three rocks being the most common. The tallest rock represents heaven, the shortest rock is the earth, and the medium-sized rock is humanity. Throughout the garden rocks are placed seemingly at random locations to suggest spontaneity, but their placement is carefully chosen.

As we go deeper into the garden we hear the sound of moving water. We are led to a beautiful cascade, which represents in miniature form Japan’s famous mountain waterfalls. The cascade faces toward the moon and is designed to capture the moon’s reflection on the water. As we leave the cascade we can follow the water channel to other pools. The sound of moving water adds to the soothing nature of the garden.

The ponds and streams are carefully placed to attract good fortune.The water enters the garden from the east or southeast and flows toward the west. The Japanese believe that water flowing from east to west carries away evil and the owner of the garden will be healthy and have a long life.

I wish I could express in words what I was feeling as I walked through this beautiful garden of tranquility, but I can’t!  J. Carter Brown expressed it very well when he said, “No one will understand a Japanese garden until you’ve walked through one, and you hear the crunch underfoot, and you smell it, and you experience it over time. Now there’s no photograph or any movie that can give you that experience.” His words are so true.

Thank you for joining me as I wandered through the Mizumoto Japanese Stroll Garden in Springfield Missouri. I hope you were able to feel some of it’s tranquility.


kelly said...

what a remarkable place cathy! and your photos capture all of the peace and tranquility so perfectly. xoxo

Carol said...

I love this post. Not only is it peaceful, but it's informative - I learned a lot about eastern philosophy and yet one more way in which it is applied through art. I love that! Thanks, Cathy.

terriporter said...

Oh, the GREEN! You can't imagine what a welcome and beautiful sight that is for this desert dweller. It looks so calm, cool and relaxing. Actually, we do have a Japanese garden right in the middle of downtown Phoenix called the Japanese Friendship Garden and, although it's on a much smaller scale, it is very similar to your garden, right down to the waterfalls. I've only been there once but your post is making me want to go again!

Anonymous said...

Springfield, Missouri - what a surprise to read that! Thank you so much for the tour, Cathy. Your photos truly captured the tranquility of this beautiful Japanese garden.

Sarah Huizenga said...

I love the thought and planning and symbolism that goes into Japanese gardens, this one is beautiful. I love visiting the one here in our area too, same kind of experience.

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