The Japanese Gardens

Elements / Architecture

Although this website deals only indirectly with Japanese architecture, the connection between Japanese gardens and the buildings constructed in or beside them is of crucial significance for an understanding of both the gardens and the buildings. From the earliest history of the Japanese garden, it was always intended to be seen from one or more structures: palaces, noble villas, monastic residences, tea houses, private homes, or viewing pavilions. Certain gardens were also intended to be experienced more directly, by foot (“stroll gardens”) or by boat, but the successful integration of architectural space and the surrounding landscape was always an important consideration. It was made possible, in part, by the remarkable transparency of many Japanese buildings, in which sliding doors or hinged shutters can make possible a free flow of space from interior to exterior. The photographs below deal with this transparency, some of them showing Kyoto’s historic gardens as they were seen by those who occupied the buildings that adjoined them.

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Shinden Villa (Virtual) Daikaku-ji Katsura Kenroku-en
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Jiko-in Jiko-in Sento Gosho Shoren-in
Ginkaku-ji Chishaku-in Shusui-tei