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Dictionary of Japanese gardening terms

Started by don, January 11, 2008, 06:38:34 pm

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Hi Ben
you are going to miss me  ;D


Hi, Mike

Truer words were never said .... I have great respect for your character and your knowledge ..... I wish you well in your new home and hopefully we will interact here in these pages.



Hi Don. Micheal
Let's make one. also list of plants .trees, bamboo, ground cover
  I made list of bamboos for Jgarden.org but Robert somehow removed it from it's website I was working on list of tree and shurb for jgarden.org  I wil check my old note.


Yama-san, let me know how you want to proceed.


Hi Don
I am thinking that list of Japanse garden term aslo list of Plants like Jgarden.org had.
plants list seems easy to start.   Japanese name, botanical name and common English name and how, where  to use is it. and adding some intrestin note about tree/plants, medicenall use, growth habit,  use of plnta tree other than in garden and hardness zone etc.
I see wisteria planted at many Japanese garden in USA are not same as Japanese do.Plase look Jgarden.org's plants list. 


Hi Don
I am not forgetting or giving up to make .  I can't work this project with computer I am useing now. It is not mine. Once I settled in in Japan, I will work on it.


Mike, we have a beginning list already started for both Japanese garden terms and tea ceremony terms.



March 22, 2013, 09:05:55 pm #24 Last Edit: March 22, 2013, 09:58:10 pm by Michaelinseattle
As a novice I was working to understand some terms.  Just a few terms I find occupy my mind most when thinking of my garden design process. Interacting with some of the forum members seeking clarification (Thanks Edzard )

I thought I would post the enhanced wording here for a critique:

  • Fuzei ?? ~  'elegant' in today's world: an elegant woman has 'fuzei' and has certain 'air', as another one of the numerous readings of 'fresh breeze''mountain air'..  As in the sentence of 'the gardens a fresh breeze of (refreshing) design and offers a mountain air'..That is fuzei. Beyond that.. we go back to Keane and the Heian era..  Direct English Translation: appearance, air, taste, elegance, entertainment. The word is written with the characters of "breeze" and "feeling" in Japan. In gardening... That sense of what you feel when you experience reflections on the water, a deep shaded area...

  • Shakkei ?? - using "borrowed landscape" from outside the garden as a part of the garden composition.  Shakkei is not the 'distant view'. Shakkei is the device that 'captures' the view, except that capturing a live view is 'ikedori' and is a negative implication. Though 'ikedori' is the origin of 'shakkei'.  Shakkei, which attempts to capture nature alive rather than create a less spectacular version, is included in sh?toku no sansui (?????, "natural mountain river"). 

  • Miegakure ?? -  A technique whereby providing only a partial view creates expectation.  And the expectation and focus brings a revealing.  Meigakure is 'revealing' the view/item, rather than hiding it: nature 'reveals a view, allows us to discover Nature in revealing itself'.  It is well expressed in the phrase, "the flower bud, hidden from the eyes, becomes a bloom."   


Michael a few thoughts that may be difficult to condense.., and these can be added to, or so I have found, as terms bridge meanings rather than frame meanings, infinite rather than finite. We seek definition, and yet these definitions to some specific degree, evolve and are infinite in their methodology. This makes them difficult to define as a definition. As once mentioned elsewhere the observation that "once we have defined 'it', that 'it', becomes obviated".

in old garden references, fuzei is moreso the 'breath of fresh mountain air' that one can find on an upslope in a copse of pine.

for shakkei I would suggest leaving out the ikedori part entirely as it is a reference of esoteric knowledge for the refinement of the methods once the mnemonic device is in place. One would probably ask, "how effective is that device you use, does it capture the sense of ____ alive? Is there life?" Confinement of a wild thing is anathema. Please see below*
The best text on the subject is by Teiji Ito, Space & Illusion. I do however, for simplicity to get started with a solid grasp of the variables is from Despina Sfakiotaki and would suggest to stay with:

Shakkei ??: Literally borrowed scenery. The method of incorporating a distant vista
into the composition of a garden. A river, the ocean, fields, forests, large trees, or even a
building may all serve as shakkei, but the most frequently borrowed scene is a distant

(my note: Gunter Nitschke also mentioned that the immediate micro scenery is borrowed through various devices within a short range of vision. the question is, "what should be emphasized and noticed?")

Enshaku ??: Distant borrowing, one of the four classified types of shakkei.

Fushaku ?: Downward borrowing, one of four classified types of shakkei.

Gyoushaku ??: Upward borrowing, one of the four classified types of shakkei.

Rinshaku ??: Adjacent borrowing, one of the four classified types of shakkei.

with these four directions, the devices may be the bamboo blind that is drawn down to 'frame a view', or horizontal branches or other angles that echo the borrowed scene, or the trunks of pine on either side, or the mnemonic shapes of shrubs in the foreground that echo the mountain in the background. The stones in a pathway could echo the tops of hills and mountains: one horizontal plane echoing the vertical plane.

*In the esoteric, when one begins to use mnemonic devices, the more subtle unconscious borrowing such as the pathway stone example, then one begins to feel that the scene is subtly 'alive/held', similar to a painting encapsulating a feeling that only comes visible in specific light or 'impressionism'. The entire space comes 'alive' rather than the focus on the one distant item that is being captured. The opposite of the wording holds, wherein the elegant description is that this space and this space alone has 'come alive' and the mnemonic devices 'hold the scene here'. Another way of expressing 'captured' to someone that does not get the nuance, which, is hard to 'get' and understand, necessitating much onion peeling and tears.   :'(

Meigakure literally means 'hidden from sight', and in typical cryptic garden manner the opposite is what one does with the definition, reveal what is hidden from sight.

Having said all this, as with peeling an onion, these definitions/explanations would be deemed incorrect at another phase of learning, either previous or after the phase from which I am currently speaking from.
    it all endlessly infinitely evolves.. but stays the same..  thank you for working through terms         edzard

K.T. Cannon-Eger

Quote from: gardesignr on May 06, 2008, 01:28:43 pm
Cool, Don, thanks!!  8)

This is a long ago thread, recently renewed. So I'll post one of my long-time favorite sites for plant names.
I like this one because it includes scientific name as well as Japanese name.
I occasionally visit this old site and wander around quite a bit. There are so many links to other sites.

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