The Garden Guide

Book: Landscape Gardening in Japan, 1912
Chapter: Chapter 12. Garden Composition

Aspect and prospect in Japanese gardens

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Aspect must be considered as well as prospect. An open view to the south or south-east is a great natural advantage, as is also an elevated wooded bank or a grove of high trees to the north or west. In Japan, a southern aspect is always sought for the principal rooms of dwellings. The summer breezes mostly blow from this direction, and the altitude of the sun when in this quarter prevents its glare penetrating the eave-shaded chambers. Next in favour is the eastern aspect, because it receives the pleasant and comparatively harmless morning sunshine. The north is, of course, the coldest and most cheerless quarter, but the west is even more disliked, on account of the fierce glare of the low afternoon sunshine which enters every opening. Moreover, the bitterest and bleakest winds of winter blow from the north and west. In the neighbourhood of Tokio, however, the world-famed mountain Fujisan is to be seen towards the west, for which reason it is customary to seek a partially open prospect in this direction, some important room in the dwelling having a small round window to afford a view of this peerless peak. Rules governing the aspect of apartments must necessarily control, to a great extent, the whole garden composition. The principal living and receptions rooms of a residence form the central point of view from which the artificial landscape is regarded. Within the compass of the grounds may be several distinct views, each seen to greatest advantage from certain secondary stations, but the united composition as a whole, must be best commanded, from the dwelling itself. From here, also, should be obtained the finest prospect of some central object in the distance which dominates the landscape.