The Beautiful Gardens of Kyoto


Asian culture, religions and countries have intrigued me for many years. In fact, I practiced Zen Buddhism for over 20 years and my husband grew bonsai plants. So as part of a trip abroad, primarily to visit our friends in Thailand, we decided to add a week for a trip to Kyoto, Japan.

Of all the large cities in Japan, Kyoto is best known for its temple gardens. As one might expect of the Japanese culture, the gardens are immaculately cared for and are more diverse than you might think. One garden may focus on using gravel to represent water: straight lines suggest calm water, curved lines suggest waves. Bridges might be used to discourage evil spirits from entering sacred spaces. Three rocks together might represent the Buddhist beliefs regarding the Buddha, dharma, and sangha (community). Cranes and flowering trees symbolize longevity.

It’s easy to become enamored with all the symbolism of Japanese gardens and not appreciate their primary goals: bringing serenity to whomever visits them. I’ve not visited a Japanese garden yet that doesn’t transmit a sense of peace and calmness.

Entryways often seem to be welcoming the visitor…

Rock gardens provide their own austere and tranquil beauty…

And you know never know who you might meet on the path…

Or the sweetness you might encounter…

I’d love to see your photos if you have an Asian-style garden!

There are 9 comments.

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  1. Bartholomew Xerxes Ogilvie, Jr. Coolidge
    Bartholomew Xerxes Ogilvie, Jr.

    I fell in love with Kyoto when we visited there briefly in 2016. One of the lovely things about Kyoto (and really Japan as a whole, but especially Kyoto) was the way the temples and shrines are everywhere; we were surprised, while walking through a covered shopping street, to find them hidden away in between the shops and restaurants. There might be a movie theater on one side and a souvenir store on the other, but you could step through a little doorway and find yourself in a tiny, serene garden. You might be in the middle of a bustling city, but you never have to go far to find a peaceful respite.

    We’re going back to Japan this summer, and we will definitely be visiting Kyoto again.

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  2. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn

    Bartholomew Xerxes Ogilvie, Jr. (View Comment):
    We’re going back to Japan this summer, and we will definitely be visiting Kyoto again.

    We were surprised that there were so many Shinto shrines; I expected more Buddhist temples. But all of it was beautiful, nonetheless.

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  3. Arahant Member

    Susan Quinn:

    That is some serious cuteness.

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  4. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn:

    That is some serious cuteness.

    We think she was there with her parents for some kind of special ceremony.

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  5. Clifford A. Brown Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown

    Even without understanding the grammar of the temple gardens, they are beautiful. Getting to know the meanings would only deepen appreciation for the effects achieved.

    This conversation is part of our Group Writing Series under the May 2019 Group Writing Theme: Blooming Ideas. Do stop by and sign up!

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  6. Doug Watt Moderator
    Doug Watt

    • #6
  7. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn

    Doug Watt (View Comment):

    That is gorgeous, Doug. You must miss it. Here in Boca Raton, FL we have the Morikami Gardens and Museum, very similar but a little more modest: lush green trees and plants, bonsai section, cafe, demonstration of the tea ceremony (which is just beautiful if you’ve never seen it), gift store and koi ponds. That’s a wonderful video they produced. Thank you!

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  8. RushBabe49 Thatcher

    Seattle Japanese Garden.

    • #8
  9. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn

    RushBabe49 (View Comment):
    Seattle Japanese Garden.

    Thanks, @rushbabe49. There is still beauty to be found in Seattle.

    • #9

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