Nihon teien (a traditional Japanese landscape garden) (日本庭園)

Nihon teien is a traditional Japanese landscape garden. It is also called a Japanese style garden.


Nihon teien are often found in temples and gardens/remains of gardens of Daimyo (feudal lords), residences/remains of residences of statesmen and industrialists, and also on the premises of public facilities and hotels.

Construction of Nihon teien generally utilizes undulations of the ground or building a miniature mountain, locating a pond at the center of it, and arranging garden stones and plants so that viewers can appreciate the scenery in all seasons. Techniques are used to express water flowing down a mountain turning into a huge stream by imitating a water fall, and ishigumi (stone combinations) such as arranging stones and putting together rocks symbolizing religious significance like Horai-san mountain (a mountain island in China where a benevolent wizard who had a drug for achieving eternal youth was believed to reside) and Horai-to island (same as the Horai-san mountain, see above), tsuru-shima island (the island of the crane, which is a place to pray for a long life) and kame-shima island (the island of the tortoise, also a place to pray for a long life) are commonly used.

Among Nihon teien, sometimes a garden lantern, a small arbor and a tea-ceremony room are included. A form of garden called Karesansui (dry landscape) which uses no water, but imitates water flow with stones, sand, and plants ere also designed. The idea that white sand symbolize water flow is a characteristic of this type of dry garden, and behind the concept is an idea that water is indispensable in a garden.
This is the reason they call some gardens sansui (hills and rivers)
During and after the Muromachi period, the idea of karesansui was being connected to the thoughts of Zen Buddhism and many karesansui were constructed in Zen temples, etc. During and after the Edo era, a technique called shakkei (making use of the surrounding landscape in the design of a garden) that uses not only the objects in the garden, but also objects outside the garden has also been used widely.

When reading the books related transition of the forms of Japanese gardens, it is understood that change of a style of building and influences of religion and thoughts came from the Asian Continent changed the form of Nihon teien. Arata ISOZAKI said the reason a Japanese garden is described as a metaphor of the sea, is that people included and arranged objects that generate the metaphor as an "analogy." The description of Sakutei-ki (the oldest book concerning gardens in Japan) also introduced the idea that a pond a spring, and the ishigumi, etc., that expresses a landscape were techniques that made a garden a metaphor of nature, such as the sea, and a landscape gardening technique that reduces the scale of natural scenery. It is said the reason why they used these metaphors is that common scenery that people share was necessary for a Jodo style garden (a garden of the style of the Jodo sect of Buddhism) and Shinsen (the thought of immortality), gardens that relate thoughts from ancient times because these gardens need to communicate what they expressed as models, with a large number of the general public. These model gardens are ceremonial gardens such as funeral hall and they need to be shared by Kami (Gods) and sympathizers. Gardens of Zen temples also needed to be shared as Zen monks thought a scene was also part of their practice.

Although the problem of connecting between a building and external space is thought to be paradoxical in modern day Japan, it is because external space is self-evident in the Japanese construction environment and has opened up before our eyes, and there are no ties of form in modern day construction and each component of space becomes equivalent, thus outer space is being conscious of as a different form of space composition language. In this way, modernists who deepen their understanding of traditional space in Japan through the filter of modern day construction, were aware of the importance of external space and took up the matter for discussion.

An architect Sutemi HORIGUCHI consciously recited this. In the lecture of the theory of landscape gardening at the Department of Architecture at Meiji University, Horiguchi stated his view on gardening as an origin of Nihon teien, reciting three examples that differ from the traditional image of gardening such as an old burial mound in ancient times, the Itsukushima-jinja Shrine and the moat embankment of the Imperial Palace. He said construction, gardening, and nature come together and interact and people who achieved this did so with a very large space composition which can be suitably called "space design." That is to say, those who did the constructed did not divide the gardens and buildings, and he referred to the garden as city planning-like a total space composition that includes the atmosphere of the buildings, nature, and further premises that they were built upon. Mr. Okada's residence built in 1934 mediated a Western-style room and a Japanese-style room through an outer space garden. However, in this building, the moon-viewing tower is stretched from a hall that faces south, and the space changes into a garden of autumn grass, and was made an attractive place that opens up the building to outer space. Space compositions like this were also seen in Horiguchi's post war masterpieces. By presenting western style and Japanese style simultaneously and unifying the building and the garden, gives the scene depth, and completes the space composition that is connected to a sense of beauty of the Japanese.

Prior to the Heian period

From the 3rd century, integration of provinces and politics advanced, and Yamato sovereignty (ancient Japan sovereignty), the state was being established during this period, and burial mounds, such as the takatsuka style tomb (a tomb built as a mound), were constructed. Large scale use of building stones, techniques used to place huge stone blocks on top of each other and processing hard stone were applied to construct stone foundations, production of a sarcophagus and fuki-ishi (a stone covering an old tomb) were discovered, and a construction method called hanchiku (hard soil made using wooden frames) to make a hill tomb was discovered, and a large scale civil engineering such as making ponds, ditches, and embankments were carried out at the time.

During the time of Yamato rule, there appeared entries regarding gardens appeared in the Nihon-shoki (The first official history book compiled by Imperial command), however, we have to remember that some expressions about gardens were cited from Chinese books. In the Nihon-shoki for example, there is a paragraph dated February 74 that says Emperor Keiko loved the palace at Kukuri (a palace that used to exist in Mino province) so much that he filled the pond with golden carp. A little later during the Tumulus period, it is said that a garden was made around a stone that symbolized Shumisen mountain which was thought to be the center of the world in Buddhism since ancient times. It is known that a number of these symbolic mountains were being built during the 7th century. An entry made during January 199 shows that ordinary people got together out of respect for the virtue of Buno of Zhou (the father of the founder of the Zhou dynasty of China) and a miraculous marsh was created within a few days, and this reminds us about historical times when white birds were flying high and fish were jumping all over the marsh. In the entry of 413, the Empress, while playing on a farm alone picked up some Araragi (wild rocamobole) growing on a magaki (a rough-woven fence). Since magaki that divides residential and a farm land where vegetables are grown, had already been produced, this shows that substantial garden space was already established at the time, and the entry of 419 about watching cherry blossoms near a well, shows that it is reasonable to consider that a sense of beauty seen in the natural environment was already established at this stage.

According to Nihon-shoki, Empress Suiko regnant during her reign in the former half of the 7th century had a garden that had a Shumisen and Kure-hashi Bridge (a holy arch bridge which the gods crossed) and Empress Saimei regnant of the latter half of 7th century also had the same. Within the palace of the Empress Saimei regnant, in 612 a naturalized citizen from Kudara (one of the three nations in ancient Korea) built a Shumisen and Kure-hashi Bridge on Isonokami no ike (a pond in Isonokami) located south of the Imperial Palace. There is a record showing that c.a. 620, SOGA no Umako built a square-shaped pond on his residential premises and thus he was called 'shima-daijin' (the minister of islands) as his garden was unusual and won popularity. Until then, 'gardens' were built on flat agora and practically used, however, they dug a small pond with a small island, and made the 'garden' into an object for viewing. When Buddhism was imported from Kudara, it caused a controversy whether to worship the Buddha or not, and the Soga family who advocated worship finally won out and they built the Asuka-dera Temple. When considering that the garden was made by the Soga family, it is easy to imagine that gardening technique also originated from Kudara.

The spacious characteristics of the Itsukushima-jinja Shrine, originally constructed during the period of the Empress Suiko regnant, were seen in its design, first, a large torii and plain stage appeared on the sea and second, a corridor (a covered passageway) that turns, surrounds an axis connecting a large torii (gateway to a Shinto shrine) and the main shrine, and third, buildings of the shrine and the large torii that blends with the surrounding nature can be seen off and on as viewers approach, which imitate the sea, pond, spring, and the mountain behind the shrine as an object in which the soul of a god dwells, and it becomes a massive view in scale that merges the sea and mountains into one unit. The architect, Fumitaka NISHIZAWA, who surveyed the buildings and the gardens of the Itsukushima-jinja shrine said the contrast of the Jigozen-jinja Shrine on the opposite shore and Itsukushima-jinja shrine could be tasted, but are hard to illustrate.

The ritualistic-related remains of Jonokoshi-iseki excavated in Iga City, Mie Prefecture revealed architecture that provided information about form and structure showing a consciousness about the maintenance of scenery and its technique and was thus designated as national scenic beauty and historical site as well, and being protected. This remains are thought to be from the latter half of the 4th century which corresponds to the early Tumulus period, and three springs supply water to a large ditch that flows down near the colony, and the spring is surrounded by arrangement of stones and processed wood in a well-like fabrication and has bricks for supporting the embankment. At the cape where the water merges, are large stones and some of them are standing and it is thought that these were for arranging the scenery. It is said that this technique led to the consciousness of a method for adding stones at the bending point.

After the Taika Reforms, a garden was built at the residence of an Imperial Prince of Emperor Tenmu, Prince Kusakabe. Its scene was composed in a waka poem by the moaning toneris (servants) of Kusakabe's Court for his premature death which was left in volume 2 of "Manyo-shu" (the Japanese oldest collection of songs, entitled "A Collection of a Myriad Leaves"). The garden of Prince Kusakabe can be understood clearly from the waka poem. A pond was dug in the garden, and a combination of stones placed to simulate a rough shore line, between the stones are azalea, and at the center of the pond is an island thus his palace was called the Island Court of Tachibana (an inedible green citrus fruit native to Japan). In this way, representing the sea by digging a pond was adopted by Nihon teien of the coming age. It is significant that there are many portrayals of sea scenery such as; the seashore, the rough shoreline, and an islan, in records to evaluate it as a nucleus to form Nihon teien, and even in mountainous areas far removed from the sea, ocean scenery, especially from that of the Seto Inland Sea, was an object of remembrance and adoration since that time. Japanese people tried to reproduce them in gardens and effort was developed to compose a traditional form of Japanese garden with a small mountain, a pond, an island, white sand, a stream, and a water fall, and this was already positioned as a form during the period.

Remains of Gardens in the Asuka Imperial Palace and Heijo-kyo (the capital of old Japan during the Nara era) are being excavated and knowledge that was not found in literature, has been added. When a long and narrow pond of 55m in length and 5m in width with a lot of bends and round stones embedded in the bottom was excavated at Sakyo-sanjo-nibo-rokutsubo (the old address of the garden excavated in 1975), it drew attention that it was a garden that public kyokusui no en (the feast on a bent stream held in March 3 where attendants enjoyed composing poems while drinking) were held. The pond is shallow and a boundary line between a pond and the land curves in a complicated manner, and the bottom of the pond is embedded with round stones and large stones are arranged around the edge of the pond, which suggests the gardening technique of the Nara period and the garden of the tim, when it was produced.

During and after Heian era

While at the end of the 8th century, the capital was moved to Heian-kyo, the new capital Kyoto was surrounded by thick green mountains in three directions and rich pure water and it was a land of beautiful picturesque scenery. Forests, ponds, and springs were everywhere. The mountains of three directions belonging to the Paleozoic strata have gentle ups and downs, and around the border in the basin, some independent small hills are seen here and there. While from the mountains and rivers of the Paleozoic strata, beautiful garden stones and white sand were obtained, a natural environment like this could provide high quality gardening materials such as trees, stones, water, and sand, and the Heian-kyo was an ideal place for gardening because of its topography and available materials.

It is said that in Kyoto, there were large gardens like the Shinsen-en garden, said to be as large as east to west approximately 218m and north to south approximately 436m, Reiszei-in imperial villa, Suzaku-in imperial villa and Junna-in imperial villa. Today, only a small part of the Shinsen-en garden is left which reserves an ample amount of spring water and those who made it skillfully utilized it, which is reminiscent of the past. It is said by choosing suburban beauty spots and building an imperial villa (detached palace) or a villa (country house) with gardens began around this time. The Daikaku-ji Temple at Saga, Ukyo Ward, Kyoto City is said to be the remains of the garden of an imperial villa built by Emperor Saga, thus the remains are a valuable example as a form of gardens from the early Heian period. Osawa-no-ike pond, which is main part of the garden, has two large and small islands near its north shore and a standing stone at the center of the pond, and Nakoso-no-taki water fall at the north, which shows us the broad-minded manner of the early Heian period today.

The form of residence of the aristocracy during the Heian period is called shinden-zukuri and the form of the building is generalized, and the form of the gardens had been improved upon as shinden-zukuri gardens accordingly. At the Face (south) side of the shinden, a garden with a pond with an island in it, into which a stream from outside flows, was built. And Udaijin (minister of the right) MINAMOTO no Toru's garden at his residence, Kawara-no-in imitated the sea scenery of Shiogama, Mutsu Province and Uki-shima island (one of the islands in Matsushima Bay) of Matsushima (the islands in Matsushima Bay), and Rokujo-in imperial villa imitated Amanohashidate (the sand spit in Miyazu Bay in Tango Province, known as one of the three best scenes in Japan), and all of these are extensions of shukukei (an artificial scene constructed in a garden, which mimicked a famous natural scene) technique from the previous era. Shukukei gardens imitating sea scenery from the Nara period is widely used during the present period, too, however, the technique has changed from vague unspecified sea scenery to more specified sea scenery.
Further, waka poem competitions were held by making garden scenery the subject of the poem, it is also characteristic of Nihon teien that the garden itself is literary and emotional, but there was a period of transition when life styles were changing from 'old-fashioned' to 'modern.'
It was a time when Chinese painting imported from China became Japanized eventually and so-called Yamato-e (pictures in which Japanese scenery or customs were drawn or painted) was established around this period, and also literary works began to be written in kana (the Japanese syllabary) against Chinese poetry literature around this time.

And from the middle of the Heian period, the Jodo style garden that mimics the idea of Western Paradise under the doctrine of the Jodo thoughts of Buddhism (thoughts of going to heaven through praying to Amida Buddha) was prevailing. Worshipers walked through Nanmon (south gate) and crossed an arched bridge to a temple via the island in the pond. The reason ponds and gardens were made in a fixed form is because their designs were based on the compositions of Jodo mandala.

Examples: the remains of the garden of the Daijo-in Temple (Nara City), the Byodo-in Temple (Uji City, Kyoto Prefecture), the garden of the Joruri-ji Temple, the Motsu-ji Temple (Hiraizumi Town, Iwate Prefecture), etc.

The gardens during this time are particularly known today because "Sakutei-ki" (the oldest book about gardens in Japan) supposedly authored by TACHIBANA no Toshitsuna, remains available today. In the book of secrets "Sakutei-ki," that describes the technique of allocating space, water fall/stream, plant gardening written in the late Heian period, insists that the motif of a garden should come from natural scenery. And the relationship between nature and the producer of a garden is described as "to follow as requested." This means that land forms and rocks of nature request the form of garden, and there is a unique Japanese view of nature in the idea that nature makes requests to humans. It means that nature is not an object opposed to human and to be overcome, but an object that a human adapts himself to and a human should produce gardens subject to nature. In this book, there are many techniques and ways to show the garden like "streams in the garden where there is no pond, should be exceptionally wide and long" and the description to show the garden is an expression leading to the techniques to produce a Japanese garden developed in later years. The book describes emotional world of literature like composing Japanese poems by incorporating each season, water falls, streams, a garden path mimicking a way in the field, plants in the garden arranged in and around the garden which Japanese like when producing a garden. As "Sakutei-ki" was written by a court noble, court nobles at the time were also first class landscape gardeners. The author's father was FUJIWARA no Yorimichi who built Byodo-in Temple. It is said that FUJIWARA no Yorimichi produced the garden himself because he could not find a favorite gardening specialist when he tried to build a garden at the Byodo-in.

Medieval age

MINAMOTO no Yoritomo who established the first samurai government also built the Eifuku-ji Temple garden of which form was following Jodo style garden in Kamakura (Kamakura City). It is said that Yoritomo was much moved by the solemnity of the Chuson-ji Temple, Motsu-ji Temple, and the Muryoko-in Temple, he saw and heard of in Hiraizumu at the Battle of Mutsu province in July, 1189, he built the Eifuku-ji Temple to repose the souls of his younger brother Yoshitsune, FUJUWARA no Yasuhira and many other officers and men who died in the Battle. Excavation researches aiming principally at certification of remains of major temples mainly the Nikai-do Temple, the Amida-do Temple and the Yakushi-do Temple, and gardens spread in front of these temples have been continuously conducted by the Board of Education of Kamakura City since 1978. Approximately 12,000 square meters have been excavated up to 1993, and the position of temples and scale of the halls have gradually been determined.

In the early 13th century, a court noble and a Daijo-daijin (the Head of one of the highest administrative organizations) of the early Kamakura period, Kintsune SAIONJI acquired a feudal estate of Nakasuke-o, Kitayama-villa north west of Kyoto, and built Kitayama-dai (Kitayama residence) and invested a fortune to build a garden. In the garden there was said to be a pond at the center and a number of halls and residences such as the main hall Saion-ji Temple were placed there, in front of the pond was a Tsuri-dono hall (a hall facing a pond which looks like a fishing rod) and in the pond was an island where pine trees were planted. FUJIWARA no Teika who visited the villa in 1225 wrote with warm praise in the Meigetsu-ki (the Diary of FUJIWARA no Teika) that there was a water fall approx. 13.6m and the water of the pond was like lapis lazuli and the spring and the rocks were clear and really incomparable. And the garden is also described in Masukagami (a historical novel which describes the events during the Nanbokucho era) and the skillfulness of landscaping at the time is known to us now.

Yoshimitsu ASHIKAGA, the Muromachi Shogun at the time took over Kitayama villa in 1397 and he was called Kitayama-dono (Lord Kitayama). The scale was enlarged and the Villa Kitayama-dai (the Villa Kitayama hall) was managed and the famous Shari-den (a hall for placing a bone of the Buddha) Kinkaku (a golden pavilion) of a three-layer lofty building was constructed. Kinkaku is a main building of the garden that was constructed to face the pond, and making it possible to look down on the garden from a lofty building, a new way to appreciate the garden, and traffic was possible between Kinkaku and Tenkyo-kaku. The garden equipped with Ryumon-baku (Dragon-gate water fall), a spacious Kyoko-chi pond, Iwajima (an island in the pond, which consists of only rocks and stones) and Kusen-hakkai-seki (stones expressing nine mountains and eight seas) is near Western Paradise, and it is said that Yoshimasa ASHIKAGA praised its scenery as being no less beautiful than that of Saiho-ji Temple. Yoshimitsu modeled the garden for Sento-gosho (an imperial villa for retired emperors) and invited delegations from the Ming dynasty, and was honored by the visit of the emperor and he used the villa for official purposes. After the death of Yoshimitsu, the Kitayama villa became Rokuon-ji Temple (the Kinkaku-ji Temple), and then in 1422, the it became a Zen temple, but a large part of the major buildings were reconstructed in a new location, and at the time, the garden seemed suffered considerable damage, it is said that broken garden stones were left there for a long time. Today's scene of Kinkaku-ji Temple is one of repair and revival work led by the chief priest Joshu HORIN of the Edo period.

From the Kamakura period to the Muromachi period, among the Zen monks at the gosan (Zen temples highly ranked by the government) literature prospered, and suiboku-ga (a drawing in India ink) and sansui-ga (a landscape painting in Eastern Asia) were introduced from the Southern Song Dynasty, and including court nobles, they made a waka poetry club. As places for these clubs, studies were quite often used, and as matter of course, gardens attached to studies developed. Condensed natural landscapes were created in the narrow space of front of small studies. At the Daisen-in Temple, a garden is located in the east of the study, a standing stone was placed there, trim plants were planted, two-tier water fall rocks were arranged like rocky mountains, white sand representing a flowing current over which a stone bridge is built, rock island is in place, a stone dam is laid downstream, and a stone bridge crosses over it, and all of which are arranged within only 100 square meters. The scenery is all in common with sansui-ga.
Refer to Karesansui

During this period, many gardeners like the Soseki MUSO, appeared one after another. Muso kokushi (the most reverend priest) loved nature and made many sophisticated gardens at the places he visited. Among them, the Saiho-ji Temple garden is a masterpiece and it is composed with a view of the world as seen from Zen sect Buddhism, and the influence of this garden on future gardens was immense. While the garden somewhat resembles the scenery of a mountain village described in "Sakutei-ki," it reminds us of the strict world of Zen. Records show that Muso kokushi said to build a garden was not a pleasure, but part of an ascetic practice, thus he felt pain when it was required to destroy fields in order to build a garden. It can be said the sophisticated gardens comparable with other first class art were born from this state of mind. His garden is a very suitable environmental composition for the front yard of a Zen hall, and it is a peak level of stone arrangement.

Examples: Although it is said that gardens of the Saiho-ji Temple (Kyoto), Tenryu-ji Temple (Kyoto) and the Zuisen-ji Temple (Kamakura City, Kamakura) can be given as examples produced by Soseki MUSO, there is an explanation that a naturalized priest Doryu RANKEI was involved in building them, but this has not been confirmed. Typical karesansui gardens are those other than the Daisen-in of the Daitoku-ji Temple, there is a stone garden of the hojo (hojo is a space of three meter square) of the Ryoan-ji Temple (both are in Kyoto City).

Since the Muromachi period, chanoyu (tea ceremony) came into style among the merchant class town people of Kyoto and Sakai City, as a popular amusement. By having tea and appreciating tea things with each another, and hosts and guests tried to harmonize. Chanoyu is called suki (refined pursuit) and practiced in a house in the mountains made in a town. The house was located deep inside the town, and guest visiting in expectation of chanoyu walked down through an exclusive narrow path differing from a gate to a Japanese style room specifically for tea ceremony. The garden space where the lane and the house in the mountain town area are located are functionally fused together and called roji (the garden outside a ceremonial tearoom) for wabi-cha (a simple tea ceremony). There seems to be a conceptual change in gardens from sea scenery to deep mountains, and this expression of gardening developed a new frontier.

Examples: Taian roji (Oyamazaki-cho, Otokuni District, Kyoto Prefecture) and Kankyuan-roji (Kyoto City), etc.

Modern times

During the Edo period, Shogun (Head of the lords) or Daimyos (feudal lords) often constructed a landscape garden in the go round style within their castles and residences in Edo where they could walk around (Daimyo gardens are typical in ponds and Tsukiyama (artificial hill in the garden) and promenades in the garden and they were called Chisen-Kaiyu-shiki-teien (go around the pond style garden). Refer to Daimyo-teien.

Examples: Koishikawa Koraku-en garden (Tokyo metropolitan area), Kenroku-en garden (Kanazawa City), Koraku-en garden (Okayama City), Ritsurin-koen park (Takamatsu City), Suizenji Joju-en garden (Kumamoto City), etc.

Recent times and today
During the Meiji period, the Iwasaki family of Mitsubishi zaibatsu (Mitsubishi financial combine) acquired former daimyo residences one after another. Some of the so-succeeded former daimyo residences have been maintained and passed under the fires of war, and opened to the public as Tokyo Metropolitan property or run by the Ward like Kyu-Yasuda Teien (the former Yasuda garden). With the influence of the West, the life style of the people and buildings had been changing, and there rose a new movement also regarding the gardens. Former Daimyos, high officials of the government and new industrialists reproduced new Japanese gardens by replacing ponds with turf such as old Kyu-Iwasaki-Teien, Seibi-en garden in Aomori Prefecture and a second residence of Akitake TOKUGAWA, Tojo-tei garden. These gardens are bright and equipped with wide turf instead of wide water surfaces and have Western-style houses on them, and they are half Japanese style and half Western style, and it is said garden parties are taking place on occasion.

In the capital at the time, Tokyo, many daimyo-residences and attached gardens were destroyed one after another, and Keijiro OZAWA seeing this, collected records and data of these old gardens in his spare time outside his duties, and after his retirement, he researched these teiens and published Meiji Teien-ki (A Record of Gardens during the Meiji period) in 1915. Records and data collected amount to over 800. He was not a mere historical researcher of gardens but also produced gardens himself such as Tennoji-koen (Tennoji Park), outer park of the Ise Kotai-jingu Shrine and the Toyouke-daijingu Shrine and he restored scenery in Ritsurin-koen park and even produced a Nihon teien exhibited in The Japan-British Exhibition held in London, and Kyuka-koen Park for centennial festival of Sadanobu MATSUDAIRA at his own birth place, Kuwana City, Mie Prefecture built in 1928. Not only gardens, he also has a deep knowledge of the Chinese classics and he described a collection of Chinese poems, 15 volumes of "Banseido Shiso."

The large scale residences and attached gardens built during late Meiji era Tokyo by the newly risen bourgeoisie were introduced by Shoichi KONDO's "Meien 50-shu" (50 types of excellent gardens). In this book, gardens that combine Japanese and Western styles of architecture are detailed, and it is understood that the residence of Eiichi SHIBUSASWA, Aii-sonso (Aii country house) has both Japanese and Western houses, a Western style garden as well as Japanese style garden, and a tea ceremony room and a garden around a tea house. While the Mitsubishi Fukagawa Shinboku-en (the Mitsubishi Fukagawa Shinboku Garden) was designed by a tea master and garden producer Soyo ISOYA of the Mushanokoji family in Kyoto, the western style house in it was accomplished by Josiah Conder. After that, Conder built Kyu-Iwaski-tei-teien (the former Iwasaki Residence Park) where a Japanese style residence with garden, and a Western style house with garden coexisted, Tsunamachi Mitsui Club, Rokka-en (Rokka-en Garden), and the former Furukawa-teien (the former Furukawa Garden).

Murin-an hut Aritomo YAMAGATA built in 1896 west of Nanzen-ji Temple in Kyoto was also skillfully landscaped ion a narrow piece of land and used Higashiyama as shakkei and a stream was supplied from a canal that runs through its turf. Jihei OGAWA (Ueji), who constructed Murin-an hut, later built many famous gardens such as Nomura Hekiun-so (Nomura Hekiun country house), the garden of the Heian-jingu Shrine, the garden of the Sumitomo family (Keitaku-en garden), the main garden of Keiun-kan in Nagahama, the Fukasawa residence garden in Tokyo of Mrs. Yone and Mr. Kinya NAGAO, and their second residence in Kamakura, Senko villa. Ueji's techniques were taken over by his nephew Kotaro IWAKI and other local gardeners in Japan.

Shintaro Oe who landscaped Senko villa with ueji, presented the idea that methodology leads to the design of gardens, which is not a view point of other gardeners nor a way to appreciate gardens, a discussion titled "The Designs of Landscape Gardening" in Ars Complete Lectures of Architecture published in 1924. In the published drawings, lines representing views and the fields of visions from the major points in a garden are indicated, and he added tsuboniwa (a small garden made between buildings or as a part of a building) and gakeniwa (a garden on a cliff) to the three conventional demarcation of Japanese gardens, namely Tsukiyama (artificial hill), Hiraniwa (plain garden), roji, and cited Nageire-do of the Sanbutsu-ji Temple as a typical example of gakeniwa.

From the Taisho period to the Showa era, many gardens that skillfully utilize natural landscapes and environments were produced. A garden that utilized, with dexterity, a valley in a cliff of a terrace built during the Taisho period, Tonogayato-teien (Tonogayato Garden), a second residence of Sadae EGUCHI, who later became the vice president of Southern Manchuria Railways Co. and second residence, Sorosen-en garden of Shogoro HATANO, and the garden showing the landscape of Musashi-no (the field of Musashi province) at the time, the residence of Roka TOKUTOMI, the Roka Koshun-en garden were produced. These sophisticated gardens left in Tokyo were newly restored and opened to the public like Kokyo Higashi Gyoen (the East Garden of the Imperial Palace), Soma-tei teien (the Soma Residence Garden) handled by Yasuhei NAGAOKA, the pioneer of modern gardens and a garden now called the Otome-yama park in Shinjuku Ward.

The inner garden of the Meiji-jingu Shrine produced by Yoshichika KODAIRA and others who worked for the Ministry of the Imperial Household has a gently curved garden path on the turf, and a forest with miscellaneous small trees and a natural looking pond, which was called a naturalistic garden. Kodaira comprehended the way conventional Japanese gardens were made while being involved in constructing many Imperial gardens at the time, and tried to add characteristics of a large-scale garden of the natural scenery style prevailing in advanced countries like in Europe and America.

And there were some landscapers who did not copy of scenery, but embodied the taste of natural scenery in their gardens, and they became plastic and decorative gardens filled with subjectivity. Rokasensui-so (Rokasensui country house) in Otsu City was created by a painter, Shunkyo YAMAMOTO together with gardener Seigoro MOTOI, and was said to be a garden of literary taste, and Saichi KOJIMA who took over the style produced the Kawada Residence garden in Kyoto City. The garden of miscellaneous small trees propelled by Juki (Torasaburo) IDA in the early Showa era called by Juki as "natural taste" (Juki called other gardens as "gardening taste"), and the style was taken over by Kenzo OGATA and rapidly spread as cities became increasingly artificial. What Juki IDA and his sympathizers did differently from Ueji was they found miscellaneous small trees grown naturally in the fields and mountains of the entire country are robust and consist of a number of species and are easy to transplant, and they were able to depict nature by themselves, in full-scale. Later, this method succeeded because of the availability of material supply and transport, closeness of the field as a reference, the establishment of selection methods, and the formularization of cultivation of immature trees. Later, this method was distributed by planting the acquired miscellaneous small trees from the mountains on the farm. A garden with natural taste of the Juki IDA harmonized with the buildings made of steel, glass, and concrete, wide premises, and narrow ones.

During the Taisho era, how modern urban areas and residences should develop and become part of the movement of life improvement in the architecture world, along with gardening, drew attention. Theories about gardening amongst modern architects differ in view points from that of Sakutei-ki, namely not in the visual evaluation of a garden, but functionality and spatial evaluation was thought to be more important. At the time, gardens were included in the 6 principles of the union of life improvement, and the Association of Japanese Gardens was established in 1919. Mainly initiated by the Association of Japanese Gardens, research on old gardens and investigations of new gardens were conducted by contemporary architects, gardeners, and the garden producers. Minoru KOUDA energetically wrote about garden-related columns and Katsuya YASUOKA published many books regarding invitation to tea-ceremony rooms and architecture in the style of a tea-ceremony pavilion. Mirei SHIGEMORI, who started to research gardens alongside this movement, measured gardens remaining in the whole country, and when entering Showa period, produced many karesansui gardens, and criticized naturalistic gardens existing within temples and revived symbolic gardens.

The job of measuring gardens was also done by Fumitaka NISHIZAWA as well as Shigemori, and their exquisite measuring charts were published and compiled as measured drawings. Further, a collection of arguments and discussions on courtyards are published by Sagami-Shobo Publisher.

Three outstanding gardens in Japan
The following three gardens are major Daimyo gardens to appreciate snow, the moon, and blossoms and are called the three outstanding gardens in Japan or the three largest gardens in Japan.

However, the origin of why these three are or the criterion for selection is not clear. It is pointed out that not all types of Nihon teiens were considered and the chosen three are all large scaled Daimyo teiens.

Kenroku-en Garden, Kanazawa City, Ishikawa Prefecture. Koraku-en Garden, Okayama City, Okayama Prefecture.
Kairaku-en Garden, Mito City, Ibaraki Prefecture

Influence outside Japan

In the latter half of the 19th century, Japanese gardens including garden stones, arch bridges, garden lanterns and a tea-ceremony houses were being built in Europe and in America as the Japonism came into style there. Although there are gardens designed by local gardeners who only imagined Japan and produced their own wild designs by the inviting Japanese workmen, they are also called Nihon Teiens (Japanese gardens).

The Paris World Exposition held in 1867 was the first international exposition where Japanese delegations were dispatched (Tokugawa shogunate, Satsuma clan, and Saga clan), and since a Nihon teien was produced for the first time outside Japan in this expo, Nihon teien has been one of the eye-catchers among the exhibits. In Europe, the aristocracy and millionaires actively produced Japanese style gardens and also in the North American Continent, Japanese style gardens and tea houses were produced in the corner of parks. A Japanese gardener who worked during this period in Europe was Wasuke HATA and in the North America it was Isaburo KISHIDA.

A British architect Josiah Conder who visited Japan as Oyatoi-Gaikokujin (foreign residents in Japan employed to teach new techniques) published "Landscape gardening in Japan" in 1893 from the Publisher, Kelly & Walsh. He wrote about the history of Nihon teiens and the method of composition, citing photographs taken by Isshin OGAWA, and made it easier to understand visually, Conder explained the idea behind Japanese landscape gardening is to pick up the characteristic part of the surrounding environment and re-present them. This book was sold in Shanghai and Singapore besides England, and according to Sanehide KODAMA, at the time, Nihon teiens were in fact produced by referring to this book overseas and in the United States. This book was reprinted in America after the World War II, and also a reprinted edition has been published by Kodansha International today.

After the World War II, as part of cultural exchanges between sister cities, sometimes Nihon teiens are newly designed by Japanese landscape gardeners. In the United States, a journal has been published for enthusiasts of Nihon teien.

[Original Japanese]