The Garden Guide

Book: Landscape Gardening in Japan, 1912
Chapter: Chapter1. History

Indian Buddhist origin of Japanese gardening

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BEFORE proceeding to describe in detail the various rules and theories which guide the landscape gardener in Japan, some reference to the history of his craft will not be out of place. Japanese writers point to India as the original source from whence ideas of garden composition were derived. This opinion may possibly be traced to descriptions of the scenery and arts of India as related by those Chinese pilgrims, who, near the commencement of the first century, studied Buddhism and philosophy in the famous Vihara of Nalanda. Even up to quite modern times, the historical mountains, lakes, and rivers, associated with the life and religion of Shakya Muni, served as ideal models for artificial landscape in the gardens of Japanese temples and monasteries. But the influence which India has exercised upon the gardening art as practised in this country has been one of religion and sentiment rather than of method and arrangement. If outward forms have been thereby modified or directed, the modification has been the result of fanciful conceptions of Indian scenery derived at second-hand, and is in no way traceable to the direct influence of the artificial and formal art of horticulture as we know it to have been practised by the Aryan people.