The Japanese Gardens

Elements / Trees

In Chinese and Japanese thought, the pine—a tree often twisted and bent by the elements during a long life—was a particular metaphor for the aged individual who has stood the tests of time and fate, an interpretation expressed in many paintings. It is not surprising, therefore, to see Japanese gardeners carefully training and pruning evergreens to conform to this image of the ancient and noble tree. The pine was also considered one of the "Three Friends of Winter," the other two being the bamboo and the flowering plum. The reasoning behind this association was that the pine and bamboo sustain their foliage through the winter and the plum blooms when there is still snow on the ground. [This section is continued on the next page.]

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return to Elements
Ancient Trees Katsura Katsura Kenroku-en
Manshu-in Daisen-in Ginkaku-ji Joruri-ji
Heian Jingu Nanzen-ji Konchi-in Shoren-in
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