Nanzen-ji Private HouseGardens created|Gardens managed

This private residential garden, located not too far from Nanzen-ji Temple, was created to complement a house newly built on the property as a second home.

Partly because the property lies close to Nanzen-ji Temple, its main house is done in a traditional sukiya (or tea aficionado) architectural style. Likewise, its garden is a traditional Japanese garden that divides broadly into three sub-gardens: a garden for the entrance area, a pond garden facing the living room and dining room, and a small inner garden at the back of the property’s north side.

First, on the right side of the flagstone garden path leading from the entrance area to the front door, there is the water running down from a stone trough and flowing in a stream into a water basin. Here in the Nanzen-ji Temple neighborhood, there are many gardens that use the Lake Biwa Canal as a water source; this stream’s water uses the Lake Biwa Canal as a water source too, and travels underground from the bottom of the water basin into the pond garden on the other side of the garden path.

Then there is the pond garden, which is the main garden, from where the house’s living room and dining room can be viewed. On the property, which extends long and narrow in the north-south direction, there is a pond built that spreads out almost as if to fill up the premises, and a large waterfall stone arrangement installed on the south side. Not only does the pond have a stone bridge erected across it and water-crossing stones installed, but there is also water that gushes out from a stone well curb, calling to mind the many gardens created in the Nanzen-ji Temple neighborhood since the modern period that use traditional techniques yet feature a spacious atmosphere.

The small inner garden also provides a background for a waiting arbor that is used for the large tea room (hiroma) and for the hand washing basin. It also has an old plum tree in front of a hogaki fence* that draws the eye.

By incorporating an abundance of traditional approaches such as using in each area famous stones taken from the Seven Stones of the Kamo River**, including Kibune stones and Kurama stones, and planting trees like cherry blossoms, maples and Japanese red pines (akamatsu) that take into consideration the Higashiyama area’s original pine forest landscape, this private residential garden allows people to savor the changing scenery of each season from early spring through the periods of fresh spring greenery and autumn colors.

*Hogaki fence: A fence built by lining up finely detailed sheaves of bamboo.

**The Seven Stones of the Kamo River is a collective term for Kamo River stones, which are some of the most representative stones used in Japanese gardens. They are comprised of Kurama stones (light brown stones from the Kurama area), Maguro stones (deep black stones), Kibune stones (blue-tinted stones from the Kibune tributary of the Kamo River), Itokake stones (silica stones that look like they are wrapped in thread), Fugoroshi stones (a flint stone known as a “lowering basket” said to have once been delivered using rope baskets), Kumogahata stones (chert stones from the Kumogahata area) and Benikamo stones (red colored chert stones).

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Location: Sakyo-ku, Kyoto
Accessibility: not open to the public
Garden construction period: in 2012

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