Traditional Culture of Japan - Traditional crafts and culture

Drinking matcha tea in a Japanese garden


The Japanese traditional garden is called "Nihon teien." Famous examples of the traditional Japanese garden are mostly found in the grounds of temples, but they may also be seen in the homes of businessmen or at public facilities.


Japanese gardens have certain unique characteristics that make them different from ordinary gardens. For example, there is a technique known as "karesansui" that uses stones to represent water. Using this technique, a garden may contain a “pond” without necessarily using water. This unique way of looking at things originated in the traditional Japanese garden.




Japanese gardens transform themselves with the changes of the seasons
Japanese gardens can be seen all over Japan. Even in urban areas, if you go into the back streets, you can find Japanese gardens. Often, they are like another world in microcosm. Away from the noise of the main road, they appear as an oasis of quiet and calm.


If you visit the same garden in winter and summer, you will find it appears totally different. A garden where green leaves are everywhere in summertime will turn into a stark white scene in wintertime.


A Japanese garden is constructed around a pond at its center. It also has something constructed to represent a mountain and many plants and trees. What all Japanese gardens have in common is that you can enjoy viewing the changes of the seasons. Japanese gardens are designed to change in appearance each season.


As was mentioned above, there is a technique known as “karesansui” that can represent a water flow by using stones and sand instead of water. Representing water through sand and white stones is in itself an acknowledgement of the notion that the element of water is necessary for a garden.


With the passing of time, the charm of a Japanese garden becomes deeper. For example, as moss grows in the garden over the years, the garden tends to look more attractive. When Japanese-style gardens are constructed in private residences, it often happens that a ten-year-old garden will create a better impression than one that is newly constructed.


  Japanese gardens and the Way of Tea
The Way of Tea is deeply connected to the Japanese garden. Like the Japanese garden, tea ceremony is an expression of traditional Japanese culture. The Way of Tea is known as an integrated art form. It requires an understanding of many areas including the techniques of the Japanese garden.


Instead of simply admiring a Japanese garden for its beauty, try viewing it while drinking matcha tea. If you visit a famous Japanese garden at a Buddhist temple or in public facilities, in many cases you can pay to be served with matcha. It is very calming for the spirit to drink tea in the surroundings of a Japanese garden.


It is something special to drink matcha as used in tea ceremonies while enjoying the beauty of nature. Of course, this is not the full-scale tea ceremony. It is simply about enjoying a cup of matcha and a Japanese-style sweet in the pleasant environment of a garden.


But you can't know the true beauty of a Japanese garden just by viewing it. The beauty of a Japanese garden will be greatly enhanced if you sit down and enjoy drinking tea at your leisure and admire its beauty in a relaxed frame of mind, just as people did in former times.


Japanese gardens are generally regarded as being most beautiful in autumn. Almost all Japanese gardens have maple trees that turn yellow and red when autumn comes. Many people are spellbound by the sight of autumn leaves in thick masses on the trees or falling softly to the ground.


A Japanese garden also looks different at different times of the day. It is said that morning is the best time to admire a Japanese garden, when the air is crisp and the rays of the sun are fresh and new. You can cleanse the mind drinking matcha in the morning amid the surroundings of a garden

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