In a Japanese garden, green moss is one of the most important components. It is a symbol of smallness of a human being in contrast to the great nature and the flow of time, as it takes long period of time for moss to cover the entire rocks or ground. Therefore grown moss tells us the shortness of a human life and is a good sign to correct the arrogance of human beings.
As you may know, values of Japanese are strongly related with Shinto and Buddhism. Shinto, the oldest Japanese religion, worships the great nature and does not intend to control the nature. Buddhism, which also deeply influences on our way of thinking, tells that a life of a human being is so short in the long history of the world.
From these perspectives, moss that naturally grown on the surface of rocks or on the ground represents our aesthetic to value simplicity, modesty and constant change. Japanese prefer simplicity as we have a feeling of modesty that we should keep the natural objects as they are since we human being are such tiny in front of the nature. Also, constantly growing moss represents the Buddhism philosophy of “everything including me changes constantly”.
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