The Garden Guide

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

Sen no Rikyu compositional principles

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As mentioned previously, Sen-no-Rikiu is said to have taught a system of composition by which larger trees were planted in the front parts of the grounds, and lower ones in the background, thus assisting the effect of perspective distance,� an advantage particularly desirable in small gardens. On the same principle he maintained that more distant hillocks should be made lower than the nearer ones, and the level of artificial water higher in the background than in the foreground. This method is known by the name of the "Distance-lowering Style" (Saki-sagari), as distinct from the "Distance-raising Style" (Saki-agari), attributed to another artist�Furuta Oribe. The latter treatment consisted in placing the taller trees and more elevated hills behind, and gradually lowering the heights of objects towards the front of the garden.