The Garden Guide

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

Tea garden rules of design

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From the close of the fourteenth to the end of the sixteenth century most of the famous compositions were of the "Tea-Garden" class, and were governed in their arrangements by the severe rules of design and ethics that distinguished this cult. The principal Tea Professors have each recorded his ideal conception of the sentiment that a perfect Tea-Garden should express. Rikiu's fancy was that of the "lonely precincts of a secluded mountain shrine, with the red leaves of autumn scattered around." Enshiu is reported to have said that his ideal garden should express "the sweet solitude of a landscape in clouded moonlight, with a half gloom between the trees." Another designer named Oguri Sotan considered that the best conception was that of a "grassy wilderness in autumn with plenty of wild flowers." Different as were these conceits, they all agree in ascribing to the Tea-Garden a character of wildness and sequestered solitude.