A Japanese Stroll Garden is a Good walk for the Mind?



The Japanese Stroll Garden style of spacious garden with meandering paths,stepping stones, ponds and bridges was designed for the nobility of the early 1600s to the late 1800s (EDO PERIOD).They differed from the traditional western garden where everything was visible and symmetrical with no secrets versus the Stroll garden having many hidden mysteries that were only revealed to the discerning viewer.Also known as the Excursionist garden (KAIYU-SHIKI TEIEN)they were designed as a series of paths around a pond whereby the designer controls the speed by which the "veiwer" walks and also what he sees and the mind senses.The paths, never straight, can be made with stepping stones stratigicaly placed to ensure that the "stroller" has to watch his step and look down and slow his progress. Or they can be zig-zag (evil spirits always go in straight lines!!)revealing new and subtle views that the garden designer has formulated. The KATSURA garden built in the 1600s in KYOTO is a good example of this style.

The "hide and reveal" (MIE-GAKURE)principle is very common in the Stroll garden design ensuring that the observer sees all the facets of the garden and that it hopefully lifts the veiwers spirits by way of traversing the garden in a state of "walking meditation".

Tea houses and bridges are incorporated into the Stroll garden design with large stones representing mountains and gravel streams mimicing streams flowing into the pond (ocean).The stroll gardens were on a grand scale(TOYAMA-SO was 450,000m2) and were designed on themes (e.g. the four seasons) or based on famous places (Mount Fuji)or even from the classic themes of poetry whereby guests could go on "excursions" that trancends time and space via the nobles private gardens.

Japanese Stroll Garden showing paths, bridges, ponds and stepping-stones.

Famous Japanese Stroll Garden in the U.S.A.. a short video.