The West, in successive waves, regularly felt a pronounced passion for the art of Japanese gardens. This is easily understood when one knows their main base, a willingness to live in harmony with nature, that is to say, to stay connected with the divine, the universe, life, … whatever the name given to it.
Our current “stressed” society is again experiencing this craze, desperately researching that it could bring it some peace and quiet, unconsciously knowing where is its salvation. Unfortunately, this research stays very superficial, focusing mainly on some techniques and ornaments that could get it closer.
When Japanese people come in France, they give a polite smile at the sight of our so-called “Japanese” gardens, but in their heart, they think that the Westerners have strictly understood nothing. As for the Japanese garden professionals, those I know well tell me that they often see things that make them excessively sad !!!
In the West, in Europe, and I am sorry to see it, especially in France, we are the specialists of “cliché” gardens !
For example, placing a torii at the entrance or inside his garden !!! Torii are exclusively reserved for Shinto shrines. It is a religious ornament. Imagine an Asian person creating a French garden and there “sticking” an enormous crucifix at the entrance. It is exactly the same situation, but the reverse.
And then, there are also the red bridges … Ah, the red bridges !!! The red bridge (although there are still some that exist in Japan in a few rare gardens) is only the trace of the Chinese influence that marked Japan at a certain period of its history, shoin style, very tinny. This is absolutely not characteristic of Japan ! The Japanese taste is simple, natural, elegant, refinement in sobriety and a certain form of rusticity …
There is also a surge of so-called “Japanese gardens” practically devoid of shade, or even in totality, exposed all day to the fiery rays of the sun, thus in excess of yang energy. Yes, it’s true, it’s tiring to pick up the dead leaves in the fall ! An authentic Japanese garden consists of a third of a sunny area for two thirds of shaded area, bringing freshness and darkness, so appeasement and comfort, particularly appreciated by the Japanese people. To understand it, you just have to read a monument of Japanese literature, the famous “In Praise of Shadows” …
And then there’s the clouds pruning ! Yes, it is just as tiring to place and replace rope guys for several years, in order to obtain a tree, an authentic niwaki, which truly resembles what it becomes with time in nature. This requires patience … difficult in our society accustomed to getting everything, and right away. Most prefer the ease in creating the approximate, approaching, and affirm that it is Japanese garden !
So … who is able to name me a real and authentic Japanese garden, here in the West … ?