Make a Japanese-Tea-Garden with paths,stones,gates and lanterns.

The Japanese-Tea-Garden was influenced by Zen Buddhism and dates back to the 15th century. They consist of two parts,an inner garden or tea house and an outer garden connected by a rojih or dewy path. The outer garden is entered first; it is designed as a place to wait, sometimes in an azumayah or pavilion and sets the mood to let the participant escape away from the distractions and cares of daily living before being invited through the gate into the enclosed inner sanctum where the tea ceremony is held.

Once invited the participants spirit is soothed by natures beauty with the path providing a tranquil journey over moss surrounded, firmly placed stepping stones. The spacing of the stones can even regulate the pace, a slow pace making the garden seem larger. The visitors progression along the path would be lit by weathered stone lanterns(Oribe)guiding them towards the traditional Japanese-Tea-Garden bench or machiaih and the purifying water basin or tsukubaih where guests wash their hands prior to the ceremony. Stones would be arranged in a way that requires the visitor to bend over or humble themselves, to wash.

One of my favorite stories concerns a gardener in ancient times who designed a Japanese tea garden with a view through a screen fence (Misu Gakih), the owner said he could see nothing through the space in the bamboo curtain and the gardener asked him to wash from the water basin. Then and only then could the view be seen when arising from the water basin... subtle! This is called hide and reveal or Miekakureh and normally is used for the stroll type garden.

The Japanese-tea-Garden should appear naturally wild rather than cultivated. Plantings should be somewhat sparse and plants to use could be simple evergreens, ferns, moss and maybe small maples. Stones should be randomly placed to resemble a mountain path.

The authentic teahouse or chashitsuh itself should be rustic in nature made of wood, rough-surfaced plaster or stones. The size was originally measured by the number of tatamih mats and most teahouse roofs were thatched. Sometimes they had two entrances a crawl-through opening (Nijiriguchi) and a classic sliding door walk in or noble-mans entrance(Kiningushi). The tea garden is small and should be enclosed by hedges, walls, or fences to give an ambiance of privacy and intimacy. A gate represents passage, leaving the outside world behind. . Water trickles into the basin from a bamboo flume that spills out over pebbles or larger stones placed to keep the area from becoming waterlogged. Nearby are large flat stones for setting down guests belongings while they wash in the basin. You will not find flowers in a tea garden except within the teahouse itself where an exquisite and simple arrangement could be placed for contemplation and appreciation.

"ichi go ichi eh - "One chance, one opportunity". A phrase often painted onto scrolls in the tea house as a reminder that the time together is a unique,one off opportunity and to make the most of it.