How to enjoy traditional Japanese gardens- three principles to understand Japanese gardens
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The most distinctive difference between Japanese garden and western-style garden is that Japanese ones are made as natural as possible whereas western ones in general arrange trees and rocks geometrically. Japanese garden designers follow three basic principles which are miniaturization (shukukei), symbolization (mitate) and “borrowed views”(shakkei). And those three principles are key to enjoy Japanese garden.

The first principle, miniaturization is to create natural views of mountain and brooks in reduced scale. The intention is to recreate idealized scene in a city to enjoy. This is usually applied to pond garden. The symbolization is to find dynamic landscape in small objects. Well observed symbolization is to see an island, a cape, or an inlet in an artificially-made hill or in rocks set in a pond. This can be observed in both pond garden and dry landscape garden. Lastly, you should know that in many gardens, objects outside the garden are designed to be a part of view from inside the garden. This concept is called shakkei, literally means to borrow views. Now days some gardens, especially the ones in Tokyo or center of Kyoto, lost the surrounding natural views of mountains. However, when you visit traditional gardens in rural region, you can still see mountains or ocean are well set according with the arrangement of trees and rocks inside the garden. This feature is well represented in pond garden.

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